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Head Coach Pat Narduzzi
April 9, 2015

Pitt Live Wire Feature: Cornerbacks Coach Renaldo Hill

Post Practice Interviews:

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin

Tight Ends Coach Tim Salem 

Defensive Back Dennis Briggs

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, Spring Practice #11 Quote Sheet

Opening Statement:

"The kids played hard today. There was a lot of intensity. We finished with an overtime period so we worked on that situation. The kids are having fun and it was a good day at work."

On the tight ends:

"We have a few tight ends. Devon Edwards is back as well. He was banged up heading into spring practice, but he is back. We have multiple weapons at that position. They all do a little bit of something different. They are all athletic enough to line up in a one back set, and also empty with 13 personnel, so I think it is an advantage for us."

On having a sense of where the team is:

"I have a good sense of where we are. We have been with them for almost three months now. We still don't know what they are going to be like on game day when the big lights come on, but we have a great sense of their attitude. I think there is great attitude and emotion and I think they are really having fun. You will have to ask them, but I think they are engaged. There are a handful of guys that are disengaged -- not playing as much as they would like, but for the most part we have a locked-in football team."

On the change from being an assistant to being a head coach:

"Not a whole bunch has changed. It's football. I even coached some defensive ends today in position drills. It is really no different."

On evaluating guys from the fourth quarter program to the transition on the field:

"When you watched guys in the fourth quarter program, you had a vision of what some guys were like in terms of effort, or some guys being lazy and needing to turn it on. But little by little guys have picked it up. There has been change -- change in bodies, change in attitude. You can't lock guys in and say `This is what you are.' What are you going to do in 10 days? What are you going to do in 15 days? That is what we are looking for -- change. Nobody is perfect. We are just trying to make everybody a little better every day."

On reasons why Reggie Mitchell has anchored himself at safety:

"Reggie has done a great job. He's really anchored himself at the free safety spot. He's athletic enough to play corner, but I truly believe that our free safety position is the most critical position on our football team. With what we're trying to do with the structure of our defense, people will try to attack him during the year. If he plays great football, we have a chance to be pretty good."

On Malik [Henderson] hitting a freshman wall and how he gets past that:

"Time. Everybody has been there. It's nothing we were surprised by. You see it happen in fall camp when most of the freshmen come, but when fall camp comes around, the rest of the freshmen will be hitting a wall and he'll be climbing the wall. That's the beautiful thing. He came in mid-year, he's getting this out of the way now. He'll have a great knowledge base when August camp starts. It's just time. He's trying to adjust to a new tempo form high school to college. For the most part, he's doing a great job. We're throwing new stuff at him each day, a new coverage, a new front, new blitz. He has to pick it up. So eventually, you're going to hit the wall. To be honest, I thought he was going to hit the wall faster than he did, so that's a plus."

On his impressions of everyone calling him intense:

"I don't know. Maybe I just have to calm down a bit. I'm just having fun out there and it's what we like to do."

On hosting coaches from Mexico City:

"They're awesome. We have five or six guys here from Mexico City. They're having a great time trying to learn football and we've had a great time. They'll be here on Saturday, so they'll spend a week in Pittsburgh. Next week I'm going to spend a week in Mexico City."

 

Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin Quote Sheet

On the safety position:

"Jevonte [Pitts] has done a really good job at the boundary position. All those guys are taking a lot of strides. Reggie [Mitchell] has elevated himself above and beyond what we thought he could be and he is only going to continue to get better. He is playing with a lot of confidence but we are leaning on him to be more of a vocal leader. We need to get some depth there though."

On Ryan Lewis:

"He has been a pleasant surprise. He is playing corner and has gotten better every single day. He is probably our third guy on the depth chart, and that moves every day, but that's where he is this week."

On who the nickel has been:

"Right now it has been Dennis Briggs. We are repping Sean [Oluwaseun] Idowu with Pat [Amara] not being out there. There are a few guys we are repping to see if they can pick it up. There are a lot of mistakes in that package because there are nuances to learn, but I am really happy with the progress."

On Dennis Briggs and his transition from offense to defense:

"We want Dennis to sink his teeth into the nickel package first, but I think there is a spot for him at corner as well. His skill set is suited for a nickel. Hopefully he can progress to give us some much needed help at the corner position. He is dynamic off the edge. He doesn't have extreme speed but he is explosive off the edge. His transition is going good. The first few days he did some really good things so my expectations grew for him, and then I got on him and had to come back and say `You have to be patient with it, you are coming from offense.' But I have been really happy with him."

 

Tight Ends Coach Tim Salem:

Impressions on his group after four weeks of practices:

"The one thing we've been working on very hard here is developing a point of attack. We're really an extension of the offensive line first, being a tight end we're blocking and then we're catching passes."

On if there's separate roles with the tight ends in the offense:

"The first goal is for everyone to learn everything then once we decide who really does what and who's better at one segment, then we can essentially put those players in those slots."

On if he has a feel for who's going to be where:

"I had a feel after the first day. It's been fun because we're still trying to push the issue. If we improve the individual then we're going to improve the team. Every kid is getting a lot of repetitions and a lot of attention. It's not just J.P. [Holtz] because he started last year, he gets 80 percent of the turns, and it's been pretty much evened out between every practice."

Impressions of J.P. Holtz thus far in spring practices:

"The biggest thing I want J.P. to be is a senior. Senior leadership. He takes the field, this is his team. Being a senior, every practice day is the most important practice he has being a senior. He has the chance to show the younger kids what it's like to play in the ACC at this level of competition and what it's like to win."

On there not being a lot of seniors on the offense:

"That's why those seniors are very vital as this program moves forward."

On the tight ends receiving more passes this year than in the past:

"We have pass plays put in for the tight ends. Plus we have the guy, number 23. It's kind of nice when we catches passes. They can't just put 11 guys on 23 and leave the tight ends open. The tight ends have caught some good quality passes this spring."

On Scott Orndoff being able to help this season:

"I think number one, as a blocker, he has gotten stronger since January. The weight room has been good to him, just like all the tight ends. They are really working hard in the weight room. When we finish up the spring game on April 18, there should be great improvement, in my opinion, to when we come back in that first part of August."

 

Wide Receiver Tyler Boyd:

On the ways Coach [Jim] Chaney runs the offense compared to the past:

"The tempo and speed of the offense. We're getting back to the line quicker and quicker each day. I think he's spending a lot of time trying to get the offense moving and exhaust the defense a little bit more. I think that's the upside for the offense, to keep dominating on our behalf. If he continues to move the offense quickly, then we should have no problem scoring."

On Coach Chaney's plans on using him in creative ways within the offense:

"It's still early, so he's still putting the system in. I'm still trying to learn my part before he can flip me around by September."

On adjusting to head coach [Pat] Narduzzi's coaching style:

"He's just a really aggressive guy. He's a guy that brings a lot of momentum to the team. He wants everyone to play high tempo."

On Coach Narduzzi being involved with the offense:

"He tries to do his part as being head coach, but he's a defensive mind so he's going to help the defense a little bit more."

 

Defensive Back Dennis Briggs:

On being moved to defensive back:

"It was the coaches' idea, but it was always in the back of my mind. I played both sides of the ball in high school. Coach approached me one day in the weight room. He knows I played defense in high school and they said they had their eye on me throughout winter ball and they asked me if I'd like to make the switch. Ultimately they left it up to me. I thought it was a good opportunity for me to change it up."

On if the switch was a tough choice:

"It wasn't that tough. I'm the type of player that will do whatever I can to help out the team. My goal coming in to spring ball was to contribute whatever I could and really just get on to special teams. I'm doing that now. The team thought I could be of assistance on the defensive side of the ball. It made sense for me so it wasn't that tough."

On getting back in the rhythm of being a defensive back:

"It was just getting my footwork back. It was stuff that I had done before, but that position has a lot of muscle memory. My biggest thing right now is improving my mental aspect of the game."

On if his teammates have been helpful with the transition:

"One of the biggest guys is Reggie Mitchell and also Pat Amara because he was playing the position before me. Pat has really been helping me with my eyes. Reggie keeps giving me the confidence every day I go out. He's a veteran and I'm somewhat of a rookie. Everyone's been helping me out. They know I'm new to the position. They're really encouraging me to step my game up because at some point I have to take the wheel."

Quoting the Panthers: Spring Practice #11

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