Click Your School for Extensive Team Coverage

Pitt Training Camp: Days 2 and 3 Q and A

As Pittsburgh has gotten going with training camp this weekend, Pitt’s Media Relations staff has graciously provided ACCSports.com and other reporters with extensive quotes from Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi, as well as several Panther players and assistant coaches. Take a look at what Narduzzi and the Pitt players and assistants had to say following workouts on August 11 and August 12.

DAY TWO (TUESDAY, AUGUST 11)

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

Opening Statement:

“We’re excited to hold media day here today. Camp starts tomorrow even though we’ve been here since Sunday working and organizing, but the kids are excited and the staff is excited. We’ve been anxious all summer. You start to look forward to this day.

“I think it’s important for our kids to have media day. I think it’s important for our coaches to get exposure because of the type of coaches they are and the type of people they are. I asked them in a team meeting last night—really, I didn’t ask them, I guess I told them we’re having media day (today), I didn’t give them a choice—I said, ‘What do you guys think of that?’ They were all excited about media day. So I know they’re as excited as I am to get it going.”

On the facility upgrades:

“(The renovated team room) has been an amazing tool for us so far. We’ve been here two-and-a-half days and we’ve spent hours in here coaching and teaching—teaching about character, having seminars on everything. We’ve had a lot of team building sessions in here. We’ve probably sung the fight song here about 10 times so far and we’ve got many more to go. We’ve got to practice everything. We haven’t really coached any details. Obviously, I want to thank [Athletic Director] Scott Barnes for all his support. In the short time he’s been here, we’ve got everything we’ve needed. For him to be over here today, I know he’s got a thousand things to do. The same thing with the Chancellor [Pat Gallagher]—he sat in a two-hour meeting, which is unbelievable, so we thank them.”

On camp goals:

“The first goal really as a football team, because it doesn’t matter about talent, we talk a lot about chemistry. The number one goal really coming into camp is having our football team come a lot closer than they have been. How do we do that? It’s those sessions we have in here, it’s putting them together in a dormitory. So they’re staying in Sutherland Hall together as a team, which is the way camp is supposed to be. We installed that. Coaches will be in there with them. It’s fun for me to go around and bed check, at least check in on some of the guys and talk football at 10:30 at night and see what they think and what questions they have. It’s a different setting for our kids. We better have that chemistry.”

On team relationships:

“We talk a lot about relationships. We build relationships with recruits and their families, but that’s a lifelong relationship. We start that lifelong relationship with our players right now. When you look as the summer goes by, we’re not around them and the NCAA doesn’t allow us to get around them. That’s why I’m staying in the dorm with them is to get around them more, to see how they live, what kind of music they’re listening to in the evenings, what they are eating, those types of things. It’s been great there. So we’re staying there and, obviously, build that chemistry. Our kids, if they feel they can be great with each other, love each other and have that relationship where the coaches love the players, the players love the coaches, we will win some football games. That’s number one is getting our chemistry going.”

On prioritizing effort:

“We are out there to push them and to get them to play with great effort. I talk about it all the time and you guys have probably heard me say that probably 50 times is playing with effort. It is coached. It’s not saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to play with effort.’ We’re out on the field and the coaches are sprinting around with our players. It is coaching effort every play. If we don’t get effort, there’s going to be something you have to pay. There will be consequences there.

“Through our first two days of practice, I’ve been pretty happy with it. Our kids are running around out there in T-shirts and shorts, they do have a helmets on, but they’re doing what we call ‘whiz tempo,’ which means you’re whizzing past the guy as fast as you can on defense. Offensively, they know they can catch the ball and turn and go. Tomorrow comes a little more contact. Although we’re not tackling and full speed, helmets and shoulder pads go on. I will say this, everybody’s got a plan until they get hit, offensively or defensively. So tomorrow, you find out who’s got that plan and who doesn’t have the plan. Again, there’s probably some more separation. It’s really hard to say, ‘Hey who’s your starting right tackle? Who’s your starting safety?’ until the pads come on. It’s a heavy, heavy install the first two days and who can react and we’ll go with that.”

On conditioning:

“As far as our kids’ shape—knock on wood here—as far as camps I’ve been to, were about as healthy and strong as I’ve seen. We watch it out there. [Athletic trainer] Rob Blanc said we don’t need a trainer for a meeting to go through an injury report because there are none.

“We are very healthy right now, we need to stay healthy. Dave Andrews, our strength coach, has done an unbelievable job this summer. It’s a cliché, but we’re bigger, faster, stronger—we truly are. We gained 262 pounds combined—he calls it horsepower, that’s strength. We have a lot more horsepower than we’ve had in the past.

“I’m watching our punter [Ryan Winslow] out there today in the punt period. I was out there last spring. I’m watching him punt the ball, we started out on the hash, and he’s punting and he’s hitting the beams on the indoor [facility.] So I was like move it inside. So we move it into the NFL hashes and he still hits it. Then we go team period, we’ve got the ball flat in the field and he still hits the ceiling. ‘I might have missed something but did you hit the ceiling in the spring?’ And he goes, ‘No, coach.’ That’s the horsepower we’re talking about. If you can see it in the punters leg, I think you’re going to see it in some other people.

“We’re excited about that. We lost 230 pounds of cargo or fat I guess. So we’ve trimmed the fat and put some muscles on our kids. Again, Dave Andrews has done a great job.”

On adjusting to the head coaching role:

“As a head football coach, you don’t get these [press conferences] as a defensive coordinator. Sometimes I’m busy scripting and I have meetings with our defensive coaches, but I get to go sit in offensive meetings now and I never got to do that before. As I move around and sit in different meetings, I want to get around to every position throughout camp. I’ll go sit with the offensive line or quarterbacks or whatever it may be. I see it at defensive meetings, I get more and more impressed with the quality of football coaches we have around here. Our staff is excellent in doing a great job in teaching and I can’t tell you how impressed I am with those guys.”

On players believing Pitt can have the most potent offense in the ACC:

“Well, I didn’t tell them that. I think, as players, you have to set goals. They’re going to have their mission statement. We’ll have a team mission statement, as well as one for offense, defense and special teams. I think that’s what they feel. I think that’s a confidence, and I think that’s the attitude we talk about. It all starts with attitude. What if you talked to them and they said, ‘I think we’ll be okay.” As a coach, I can say that but I want those kids to feel confident. If that’s what they want to say or what they want to feel, then more power to them. If you can’t feel that or believe that, then you’ve got problems. So if they feel they’re going to be the best, then that will be what our offensive or defensive blueprint will be. If we want to win football games, we’ve got to do it with offense, defense and special teams. So I want those guys to have an attitude and feel that they’re the best. Hopefully they feel like they’re being coached by the best and feel like they’re equipped with the best.”

On position switches:

“Our goal is to get our best 11 players on the field at one time. We’re going to do whatever it has to be. Whether it’s an offensive guy moving to the defense or a defensive guy moving to the offense, it doesn’t matter. If Coach [Jim] Chaney needs a guy and we noticed that we’re deficient in a spot, then we’re going to try to fix that deficiency the best we can. But I think those position moves have got to be quick. I think if you wait, then it’s got to be a redshirt. We made two moves in the offseason that I think were critical. [Brian] O’Neill moving from tight end to tackle is one. We talk a lot about selfishness. It’s not about me, it’s about this football team. I brought Brian in and told him that we had an injury and said what do you think about moving? We talked over the plusses and the minuses of it and I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you that you have to move [to tackle]. You know we need you, but I want you to be the guy that says it.’ I’ve always believed if he says, ‘Coach I want to move there,’ then when he makes that move he’s going to put everything he’s got into it. I think [O’Neill] went from 260 [pounds] to 285 [pounds] within five weeks. If you looked at his picture side-by-side, it was like ‘Whoa.’ You’d think a guy that went from 260 to 285 got sloppy and fat, but no. It was unbelievable. I thought Coach Andrews did some photo shopping on his body, but he looked unbelievable.

“Then James Folston moved from probably third or fourth team middle linebacker to defensive end to give us more speed off the edge. Those are positions that we were able to move into summer, get coached up by the other players on the team during summer, and hopefully they’ll be a step ahead. But if you wait five, six, seven days into camp, then all of a sudden they come in here and they might as well start back getting ready for spring ball. It’s important that you make those types of moves early, if you’re going to make them.”

On center Artie Rowell’s recovery from his 2014 knee injury:

“I’ll tell you what, you look at him and he looks like he’s 35 years old. Scott [Barnes] was talking like he looked like an athletic director and he was going to be in his office one day. Obviously, during spring ball he was still a little bit hurt, but he’s back 100 percent. I can tell you that. He pulled around yesterday and I said, ‘Holy cow, that guy can run.’ Football players are football players, and we watched [Rowell] move around in winter conditioning a little bit. He wasn’t full contact so he couldn’t run around as much. Some guys are drill guys and look good at vertical jumping and going over the bags, and then some guys don’t. [Rowell] was a guy that probably didn’t look as fancy doing that, or he probably wasn’t 100 percent yet, but he looks really good. Obviously, there’s no pads on yet, but he looks good. One nice thing that [offensive line coach] John Peterson said to me was that he’s got a little nasty to him, too. We’ve got to have some guys that are nasty up front, so he’s got a little attitude to him. That’s what we need. He’s ready to go.”

On first impressions of James Conner:

“James is a guy that you think, ‘How can he change his body?’ He’s the Player of the Year in the ACC, but he looks like a new and improved man out there right now. He’s got great hands. He was a good player in the spring, but he’s continued where he left off. I can’t wait to watch him on game day. He’s done a nice job.”

On adjustments made in his transition from defensive coordinator to head coach:

“It’s more meetings. It’s dealing with [media] a little bit more, and running a team meeting. That’s the biggest difference. But doubles [two-a-days] are a little bit different because there’s more development that we need. It’s not just spring ball. Fifteen days of spring ball is probably a little bit easier. But now, with so much free time, there’s meetings constantly. The difference right now compared to what it was as a defensive coordinator is just being on top of everybody, making sure that we stay on a schedule, making sure things move smoothly and everybody has what they need.”

On generating more pressure on opposing quarterbacks:

“The first thing is that we have to get the right players on the field. I think speed kills. Everybody always talks about spread offenses and the things that those offenses can do to you, but there’s spread defenses, too. I think our defense is built for that. We’re trying to get speed on the field on defense, and defensive end has been a concern. I think the coaches were on the road when I made the Folston move [from linebacker to defensive end]. They were out there and I was just looking at the depth chart alone in my office, because the head coach can’t go out there in May, and I said, ‘We’ve got to move that guy.’ I’m just looking at where we have people. [Folston] is athletic enough to play middle linebacker, but mentally can he be everything he needs to be to beat the guys in front of him right now? Probably not. He’s too good of a player. He’s explosive, he’s powerful. When you look at him out there, he’s done a nice job in shorts, so we’ll see what happens when we get pads on. We’re going to have to put speed on the edge. Speed kills. We need guys that can run off the edge and obviously be able to pressure the quarterback with some of our blitzes.”

On linebackers Nicholas Grigsby and Bam Bradley’s role in the pass rush:

“I think Grigsby played defensive end last year on third down, so we definitely get more speed out of those guys and [Mike] Caprara as well. He’s done a nice job at the outside linebacker position. We’ll get something out of those guys.”

On expectations for the defense:

“We try not to sit here and say, ‘This is what we want to be.’ I’ve never done that in the past. We want to be sound and get better every day. Obviously, we want to win a championship. You do that with championship defense, offense and special teams. Defensively, we’ve never said, ‘We have to be this.’ One thing we’ve got to be able to do is stop the run. Our defense will be built around stopping the run. That’s one thing that, if you asked what our goal is, on defense it would be stop the run. We’ll be built to do that and the 11 players who are on the field will be able to do that.”

On relationships with defensive coaching staff:

“I hired great people. Josh Conklin is a guy that I had some knowledge of, but I didn’t know him real well. I interviewed him, and I knew Rob Harley real well. I knew Renaldo Hill, and I knew of Tom Sims. We all have a great relationship so far, there’s no questions about that. [Conklin] is a great defensive coordinator who does a lot of things better than I did them. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. My job as a head football coach, not just on offense or defense, but it’s really to coach the coaches, get what we want, get the little things right and pay attention to details. I don’t get to coaching in the position rooms, but my job is to coach the coaches and just evaluate them. [Conklin] is great. He’s smart enough to understand we’ll do whatever it takes to get better. There’s different ways to do things. For example, just this morning in his meeting I said, ‘This is much better than what I used to do.’ Just the way the meeting was structured on a piece of paper and a power point to show our kids period-by-period what they did well and what they didn’t do well. I used to put it on one sheet, but he went from period to period. It was a great visual for our kids. There’s going to be great interaction and great communication in every aspect. There has to be.”

On pressure on cornerbacks to play well in a run-based defense:

“It does [put pressure on them]. But we have ways of giving them relief. We’re trying to make everything look the same, but there’s pressure on the corners without a doubt. I think our corners are good enough to handle that pressure. We have guys that can do good things. It’s also our job to change it up and make sure, if you’re the [opposing] quarterback, you don’t know what’s on that island out there. When you look at it from the press box, you’re going to look and say, ‘It looks like those guys are on one of those islands out in Hawaii.’ It’ll look like that, but then we’ll have ways of changing it up and giving those guys some help.”

On depth at receiver position:

“People will be worried about Tyler Boyd on one side, but we have to find three or four more guys. We need to find three or four more playmakers to put on the field. That’s obviously a goal for our offense: to find out who those guys are and find out who can do something on the other side [of Boyd]. We found one guy in Dontez Ford through the spring. We’re going to find out how he’s progressed through the summer and this 2015 fall camp. But there are some more guys that are going to get better.”

On if Tyler Boyd will be a part of the return game:

“No question about it. He did it last year and did a great job. I sat there and watched him return punts last spring and this fall so far and I don’t think he’s ever dropped one.”

On the possibility of Jordan Whitehead entering the return game:

“I’m not sure if he was back there today. I did not see him back there for punt returns. He might’ve been back there for kickoff returns. In spring ball, we’re getting one’s, two’s and three’s. We’re finding out what everybody has. We probably have 85 or 90 guys out there, and all our kids on this team knew that when we get to fall camp it was going to be one’s, two’s and freshmen. Freshmen are the three’s. That’s been our philosophy because we have to find out what those guys have. I don’t want Jordan [Whitehead] or Tre Tipton sitting out there catching punts and getting those reps until we find out if they’re going to be on the field on offense or defense. That goes for Jay Stocker or any of the other skilled guys, Dane Jackson and more. First of all, find out if they’re going to be on the field. We’re working in individual drills trying to get those things straight. They’re not necessarily catching a ton of punts right now.”

“Really, we have to find out if they’re going to be on the field first. You don’t want to burn a freshman this season just to play special teams.”

On throwing more deep balls:

“Yeah, we’re going to throw some deep balls. We talk about making big plays and explosive gains on offense and limiting them on defense—that’s one of the keys to the game of football. There’s nothing worse than giving up a big play on defense and it hurts you. To open up our run game, we’re going to have to throw the ball deep. Coach Chaney likes to throw it there. We’ve thrown some deep shots already. Chad [Voytik] does a great job, Nate [Peterman] does a great job, Ben DiNucci had a nice deep ball the other day on the money to one of those puppy receivers. We’re definitely going to throw the ball deep. Our defensive backs are getting shots—they’re out there on that island. Coach Chaney has done a great job of challenging Coach Conklin and Coach Hill’s corners with those deep balls because you’ve got to make a play. Somebody has to catch that ball, one or the other.”

On quarterback Chad Voytik:

“Chad [Voytik]’s done a nice job. He’s a leader out there. Our kids trust him. As a football coach, the quarterback coach or the head coach, you want competition at that position. We’re going to press the competition there and try to make him better. From the little I’ve seen so far, he’s a competitive guy. He’s gotten better since last spring. You watch him out there, I think he’s getting more affiliated with the terminology, which is all new. He’s got to spit that out and get everybody lined up, so he’s done a nice job.”

On the specialists:

“I know Coach [Andre] Powell, our special teams coordinator, has been happy with [kicker Chris Blewitt]. I don’t think he missed a field goal or extra point today. We’ve had three periods of field goal and extra point periods and Chris has done a great job for us. I don’t ever want to leave our long snapper out—David Murphy has done a great job of snapping the ball for us.

[Punter] Ryan Winslow has been phenomenal as I already mentioned. What power he’s got in that leg right now. It’s our job as coaches to make sure he can keep that power and we don’t out kick him.”

On Pat Amara and the battle at safety:

“He’s cleared and he’s ready to go. I mentioned yesterday about he had a little doctor’s appointment he had to go to. It’s a personal medical issue he had to take care of. We were worried about him for a little bit, but he’s A-OK and ready to go. He had a big, old smile on his face today.”

“I think it’s [the safety position] going to be real interesting. I think it’s going to be interesting without a doubt. I think Reggie [Mitchell]’s done a nice job on the field and we’ve got to find that solid starting combo. There’s a bunch of guys.”

Wide Receiver Tyler Boyd

On his role as a veteran:

“In terms of being a veteran my job is to help my teammates. I’m here to coach them up and help teach them how our system is run. I want them to get comfortable playing the game and to have fun.”

On the pressure to perform at a high level:

“I don’t really feel any pressure. I’ve been a starter for two years now so I know my role and what it takes to make big plays. I know a lot of people look to me to make plays, but I know that we have a whole team filled with guys who can make plays. It is a team effort, and you can’t count on one guy to make a big play—everyone has to play their role.”

Defensive Back Jordan Whitehead

On if he can contribute as a freshman:

“I definitely feel that I could help out. Hopefully the coaches see my talent, and that I can prove myself.”

On the goals for the team as well as individually:

“As a team we want to win, and individually I want to make the best decisions that will help the team.”

On if he is apprehensive about a new defense:

“I’m not nervous for the new defense. It gives me a chance to make a play. If you make the play then you’ll become known as a play-maker.”

Offensive Lineman Adam Bisnowaty

On Coach Narduzzi living in dorms during camp:

“Yeah, [Coach Narduzzi] was up there last night. We don’t know how long he is going to last up there, but he did say last night he was comfortable.”

On the team’s leadership:

“The biggest thing that stands out to me is that there are more leaders on this team than ever before. Before this year guys would look up to one or two players, but now there are so many leaders on the team that there are too many to name them all. There are so many of us, and that is going to make us a great team. That is the biggest difference from the past few teams I’ve been on. The leadership is just outstanding.”

Running Back James Conner

On whether this could be the best offense in the ACC:

“There are a lot of great teams in the ACC, but we believe in ourselves and the amount of work we put in, along with our chemistry and our coaches, so there really is no doubt in my mind.”

On whether the team has a chip on its shoulder:

“We always have a chip on our shoulder, which drives and motivates my teammates and I. The best teams always have a chip on their shoulders because there is always someone coming to defeat you.”

On his days as a defensive end:

“I came to Pitt recruited as a defensive end as a freshman. [Former] Coach [Joe] Rudolph called me up to try out running back after a good senior year in high school. Coach [Paul] Chryst always knew I had the ability at defensive end so I continued to practice the position just in case a defensive end went down and they needed another pass rusher to step in, but I am a running back.”

 

DAY THREE (WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12)

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

Opening Statement:

“Day number three, the pads go on and there’s going to be a little bit more contact today. Day three install and there’s a lot of stuff going on, so it should be a lot of fun.”

On what he looks for as the pads start to go on:

“You look for guys who play with knee bend because you can’t play straight legged like you’re playing soccer. It becomes more of a football game. It becomes faster. I was talking to [Ben] DiNucci last night in the dorm. He’s like, ‘Man, it’s a lot different than high school.’ It truly is.  There’s a guy that has played in a very detailed offense, but I said things are going to get even faster today because those guys have been slower because they know they can’t run through people. Things will be sped up on both sides of the ball today and the game is going to play a lot faster.”

On special teams and the starters being involved:

“We want to win, so we want to get them in there. If they’re the best guys, we’re going to play them. If we can rest them and there’s a guy that’s just as good, that’s fine. There will be backups for sure. When you get down the stretch and we’re playing for an ACC championship late in the year, things may change and there could be more starters on it.”

On freshman Jordan Whitehead and his position:

“He’s at safety right now.”

On the depth at corner:

“I’ll tell you in a few days. It’s hard to tell right now in shorts. Like I said, everybody’s got to play until they get hit and we’ll find out. It’s different when the pads come on.”

On the two starters, Avonte Maddox and Lafayette Pitts, at corner:

“I think we’re good. Obviously, they’re starters, so we’ve got to feel good with them. What’s it going to be in ten days? I don’t know. It may feel good with a new two starters, I don’t know.”

On ball skills and interceptions:

“I think that’s all technique and putting them in position. You’ll see this as the season goes on: our philosophy at corner, safety, wherever, is to put them in position to make a play. We’ve got to make a play on the ball. We’ve got a deep ball drill today with a receiver and a corner working the ball down the field and finding out if they can get around. We’ll have that drill. We try to build it in and put them in a position to make a play, which is our job as coaches—number one. The next one is, they’ve got to make a play. Sometimes they make them and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes that other guy is pretty good, too, and makes a play.”

On receivers that have stood out:

“It’s too early right now to say that. They’re all doing a nice job and, like I said, I think when the pads come on you really can tell.”

On communication within the defensive units:

“It’s important. It’s a communication thing and it’s physical. It’s the same thing for our secondary, it’s a lot of communication within the secondary. The Mike is controlling the front and the safeties are controlling the backend. Every day there is more communication. Our checklist gets bigger every day. That doesn’t change whether it’s shorts or pads. There’s a lot of communication and it’s important every day.”

 Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin

On the tackles:

“We’ve challenged those guys. If we are really good at that defensive tackle position and the [nose], then we have a chance to be really good at stopping the run.”

On nose tackles Khaynin Mosley-Smith and Tyrique Jarrett:

“We’re going to put the two best guys in there at that position. I think, ideally on paper, you’re looking at those guys maybe having a different skill set, but if they’re not real different and there’s not a lot of real difference between those guys, you can play both of them.”

On graduate transfer tackle Mark Scarpinato:

“I’m really excited about him. He’s a motivated guy, he talked to the team last night and gave a little bit of his background story as far as why he returned. [I’ve] got a lot of respect for him. He wants to go and end his career, his eligibility, the right way.  [He] felt like he left something out there and we’re going to give him everything we can to give him that opportunity to do that. [He’s] already provided some leadership, just in terms of mentally with what’s going on and understanding the defensive package. So we’re excited about him.”

On depth at corner:

“We’ve got to develop it. I think Ryan Lewis is having a good camp so far. We’ve got to do a great job of getting guys developed, especially those young guys. You look at guys like Dane Jackson.  Dennis Briggs has got to continue to develop. [It’s] a critical position. We’ve got some guys that can play it, obviously. We feel we’ve got some guys who have the skill set, but we’ve got to get out there and they’ve got to continue to grow.”

On whether former linebacker James Folston can contribute at defensive end:

“I really do. I think he’s going to have to kind of go through that barrier in terms of the learning curve. If he can do that, though, he’s got all the athletic tools he needs to get the job done. He’s a big, athletic guy that has good speed, really what we’re looking for at that position. So we’ve got to get him to continue to grow.”

On a timeline for deciding when freshmen can contribute:

“You want to see the guys where the game is not too big for them right now as far as being too fast. Those guys that have a little bit of moxie and a little bit of confidence, you’re going to continue to get them reps and continue to develop them. Not necessarily by the first game, maybe it’s the second game, maybe it’s the third game, maybe it’s the middle of the season. As a coach, you’ve got to continue to develop all those guys because, God forbid, an injury would happen or something occurs with your depth, you may have to play them at a different point of time.”

Linebackers Coach Rob Harley

On Matt Galambos being a vocal leader:

“With defenses the way they are, those guys have to give us our calls and have to get people lined up, but at the same time we have to be a vocal defense. We can’t have just one guy out there shouting stuff. Obviously with my unit, the calls start with those Mikes (middle linebacker). But, as a defense, we have to be chirping stuff, echoing back and forth and communicating. Each guy has a job. Who’s calling out down and distance? Who’s calling out backfield sets? Who’s alerting us to certain things? The way offenses are with their shifts, motions and so much stuff, we all have to be vocal and we all have to understand. But with [Galambos] specifically, I think he’s embraced that role and he’s doing a good job. Every day creates new challenges. Obviously, Coach [Jim] Chaney is one of the best offensive coordinators there is, so they’re going to create challenges and those guys have to rise to it, take a deep breath and be able to communicate under pressure.”

On working with Galambos’ leadership ability:

“It may not be natural, but it’s something where we don’t have to ask him to be overly crazy or hyper. He’s got to understand that communication doesn’t have to be false or fake. It has to be real and it’s a job that needs to be done. If he doesn’t want to be overly boisterous about it, that’s fine. But he’s embraced the fact that he has to lead with his calls and getting people lined up structurally and fundamentally. He’s embraced that role, at least. I think we’ve gotten him to come out of his shell just a little bit, so we’ll see. I’ll keep working on it.”

On Bam Bradley and Nicholas Grigsby’s experience:

“I think it’s good. Those guys are experienced football players. [Grigsby] has played a bunch on first and second down, he’s been out there on the field on third downs, he’s a fifth-year player, and he’s just an experienced football player. He’s played a lot of football in different aspects in this program. [Bradley] has played a ton. They’ve all played a great amount of football here when you look at the whole unit, so that’s always going to help you. Snaps always help you. Experienced people, whether it’s being a starter or not, experienced football players pay dividends down the road.”

Linebacker Matt Galambos

On being a vocal leader on defense:

“I’m definitely getting more comfortable out there. With my experience and everything I’m really trying to help the young guys, especially during camp. Everyone knows how much of a grind it is during camp, day by day having practices, and sometimes two-a-days. You’re not just being vocal on the field but trying to help the younger guys get through it at the same time.”

On how comfortable he is with the new defense:

“During the spring is the first time you are ever seeing the new defense. We went through the summer learning the defense and now it’s like review from the spring on what we did. It’s really good to build on what we did during the spring. We still watch film from the spring sometimes to correct the old stuff on top of viewing film from camp. We feel really comfortable with the defense.”

On working with an intense coach:

“Not only is Coach [Rob] Harley intense, but the entire coaching staff is. The amount of energy that the entire staff has each and every day, whether it is in a meeting, whether it is the strength and conditioning coaches when we are lifting, or whether it is practice with everyone. Every single coach has a ton of energy and it trickles down to us. Every time we practice it is a lot more energetic and enthusiastic.”

On Coach Pat Narduzzi:

“[Coach Narduzzi] is going to be hard on me and he’s going to be hard on a lot of other guys. He wants the best for you. He has run this defense for many years and has been successful. It is hard for him to take a step back but at the same time he’s a great teacher and a great coach and so is the entire staff.”

Defensive Back Jordan Whitehead

On the transition to college football:

“It is a lot different coming in and having a lot of meetings every day and practicing out here. The coaches are on all of the freshmen trying to get us as many reps so we can all have a fair chance, also so they can see what we can do. A lot of the older guys are helping us out in the meetings and out on the field. If you don’t do something right they will take you to the side and make sure you do it right the next time.

“When I came to Pitt, I did not know what to expect in the summer. [Strength and conditioning] Coach [Dave] Andrews during the whole summer has constantly stayed on the freshmen to make sure we matured, and weren’t lacking since we are the young ones. He has done a good job with us physically and mentally developing us.”

On staying a safety:

“I think right now Coach Narduzzi is focused on getting me as many reps so I can learn the position, but whatever happens in the future happens. But right now he is trying to get me comfortable out there on the field.”

On being a physical player:

“If you play football, you should probably like that part of the game.”