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Pat Narduzzi On Penn State Football’s Signal Changes: ‘Usually The People Who Are Paranoid Are The People Stealing Them’

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was asked about James Franklin and Penn State football changing its signals after John Petrishen’s transfer from Happy Valley to the Steel City on Thursday. He responded to that question with a nearly 500-word monologue, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s John McGonigal.

Narduzzi touched on a lot of different topics throughout his answer, which lasted for two minutes and 44 seconds. His rant included a few indirect jabs against Franklin and the Nittany Lions.

“We haven’t been thieves, I guess,” Narduzzi said, “but usually the people who are paranoid are the people stealing them [the signals].”

It’s not uncommon to see Penn State’s offensive players glance at their coaches on the sideline immediately before running a play. Narduzzi claimed they do this to steal the defense’s signals — and not to make a late adjustment to their original play call.

“The team that looks to the sideline — they’re doing it for a reason. They’re doing it to steal [the opponents’] coverage signals,” he said. “Have you seen Kenny Pickett ever look to the sideline to get a second call? The ones who don’t look to the sideline are just running a play. Does that make sense? It’s just funny.”

Narduzzi referred to this topic as “funny” multiple times during his long-winded answer. He thinks that Pitt can’t steal opposing teams’ signals for a few different reasons. First of all, Narduzzi said that the Panthers just don’t have enough time to invest in learning an opponent’s signals.

And even if they did, those signals wouldn’t be useful because whichever team has the ball “controls the tempo” of the game.

“We’re busy getting our own signals in,” Narduzzi said. “Just think about this: Are we going to signal to our defense, and then tell them what the offensive play is? There’s no time for that. Our eyes are on our kids, our signals.

“I mean, I could have their notebook. If I had their notebook sitting right here — maybe I do, I don’t know — that ain’t gonna help me win a football game. I can promise you that. Defensively, your hands are tied — you can’t steal signals. Maybe I’m just a dumb defensive coach.”

Narduzzi said Petrishen wouldn’t have time to figure out exactly what the Nittany Lions’ defense is running and relay that information back to offensive coordinator Mark Whipple unless there was a “two-minute play clock.”

Eric Thatcher — a former Pitt football player who now serves as an assistant recruiting coordinator at Penn State — was also brought up during Narduzzi’s rant. Pitt’s head coach said he’s sure that Thatcher, who served on Narduzzi’s coaching staff in 2015 and 2016, is trying to “fill in” Penn State’s players on what his team will run this weekend.

“He sat in the defensive meeting rooms for two years,” Narduzzi said. “I’m sure he’s a ball coach this week trying to fill them in on what we do. A 35-year-old guy or a 21-year-old guy that’s been playing one position, I don’t think [Petrishen’s] worried about offensive signals or defensive signals.”

So according to Narduzzi, it’s impossible and impractical for a college football team to steal an opponent’s signals — even if there are players and staffers who have been members of both teams. If this is the case, why would James Franklin use his team’s time to change the signals and then bring it up at his weekly press conference?

“I don’t know,” Narduzzi said. “Because whatever.”

Penn State and Pitt’s 100th-ever meeting will kick off at noon Saturday back at Beaver Stadium.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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