Villanova’s offense was shut out Saturday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh as Pitt slapped a 28-7 loss on the Wildcats in the season opener for both teams.
Rob Rolle’s three-yard fumble return for a touchdown and the subsequent extra point provided the lone scoring output for the Cats in a match-up again the FBS Panthers.
Post Game Presser Quotes:
Villanova Head Coach, Andy Talley…
“We played hard. We were looking to get into this game and play hard. We wanted to keep the game close and hopefully make a couple breaks for ourselves. The one area we were concerned about was obviously their kicking game and our kicking game. The kickoff return for a touchdown was certainly difficult to overcome. Their defense is really good. I think Pitt is probably a bowl team. All in all I was very happy with our team. We played very, very hard in hot weather. It is a difficult task. I think the game had a chance to be closer but we caused our own demise during the second half. Pitt has a lot of really good talent on both sides of the ball. Our quarterback did not have a lot of time to throw it. I was happy we were able to muster up some type of a running game. We did do that and I was pleased with that. We needed to make some bigger plays. We had a chance for a big play down in the left-hand corner with Jarrett McClenton and he dropped the ball. You have got to be able to make some big plays against a team that is bigger, faster and stronger than you. What I take out of the game is that I have a young quarterback who is going to be very good. I have a bunch of young players on the rise and I think we have a chance in our league to be very good. The most important thing is that we didn’t get anybody hurt today.”
On Pitt’s defense: They lived up to their press coverage. They are very good defensively and they don’t turn the ball over offensively, so they never put their defense in harm’s way. They certainly weren’t in harm’s way against us today. They run, they tackle, they have size and they’re smart. I think they’ll be one of the best defenses in the country.
On the decision to punt on fourth down inside Pitt territory on the game’s first two drives: There is a point where you are kind of playing percentage football. When you have a fourth and more than five yards, the percentages say you’re probably not going to get that. Early in the game when we were down there, I sort of went with the percentages and punted the ball. In hindsight, if I knew the outcome of the game I would have said that every time I get down there you have to take chances on fourth down. But we kept them out of the end zone; they punted, they had to make some long drives so it was paying dividends early. We didn’t have any points on the board though, we couldn’t get any points on the board, and so then we played it a little too close to the vest. Probably on fourth down we should have tried to get a couple of them. Maybe you convert them and you get a score. I played it according to what the chart tells us to do.
On the Wildcats offense: First all I took out of the game that we are tough. We have a lot of grit. I think we have a really good quarterback who is going to be better as our receivers improve. We have a good offensive line. We have a tailback who stepped up in Javon White and another one who is going to be really good, and our starter will be back in three games. We were down a starter and two receivers, as well as a starting corner. The offense will improve as we get stronger, and probably the best thing about this game is we got out without any injuries.
Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk…
On both teams going scoreless on four drives in the first quarter: We had some penalties. Besides that, if we don’t have the penalties and we are able to pick up the blitz we’ll be fine against anyone. Obviously Pitt is the fastest and most physical defense we will play all year. We had some momentum and then one thing happened where we weren’t on the same page as a team. In the first game that is bound to happen. If we are able to clean that up we will have a great offense and be able to put points on the board all year.
On the game: Offensively we never quit. Even when there was two minutes left in the fourth quarter we were still trying to put it in the end zone. It is disappointing that we were able to move the ball but not put any points on the board. Hopefully this will be a motivation for us offensively because we definitely don’t want this to happen again, especially when the defense is playing so well. We had some opportunities to make a big play and put points on the board, so we know that we can score quickly. We never thought we were out of the game until it was over.
Senior linebacker Austin Calitro…
On the game: Defensively I noticed a bunch of young guys stepping up. Drew Wiley and Dage Davis in particular were on the field throughout the whole game. We definitely have some depth after this game, and we have a bunch of tough players who will be just as physical as anyone we play. We never gave in. Until there were four zeroes on the clock we felt like we had a chance to win.
On the defensive game plan: We wanted to stop the run and we wanted to play our gaps. We thought if we could battle and could make the quarterback beat us it would be a good game. We succeeded at that, but we made some mistakes on special teams and had some errors in the passing game defensive wise. We played a crisp game overall and I think it’s going to be the start of a great year for us.
Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi…
Opening statement: We are 1-0. That’s a good team they have at Villanova. They are very well coached. They have a good quarterback. Give them a lot of credit. It was a little sloppier than I would like on offense, but on defense I thought we played pretty well. Defensively, we had a shutout. The seven points were given up on the offensive end.
On Pitt’s offense: We never got in sync. We have a new coordinator so you have to expect that. Like last year, we’ll make our greatest improvements from week one to week two. It’s just good to get one game on tape. We have one game to evaluate and we’ve got to play better next week.
On playing against Villanova’s defense: They geared up to stop the run. We didn’t pass as well as we need to. They’re a good team. Give them credit. They didn’t quit in the fourth quarter and we didn’t quit in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Nathan Peterman...
On how the offense played: I thought we could have been a lot better. We were happy with the win, but there are a lot of things that we have to clean up. Coach says that the biggest improvement is from game one to game two, and that is what we are planning to do.
On the offense’s rhythm early: I think we can work that out. Three consecutive three-and-outs, and we just didn’t get it going. We have got to figure out what that was. A lot of it was on me, so I have to be better and that is something that I plan to do.
Linebacker Mike Caprara…
On the defense shutout of Villanova: I think defensively that we did a great job. I think it started up front. The best thing that led to today was that there was great communication. From coaches to players, players to coaches, and players to players on the field. There was great talk all around and I think that led to the win today and the shutout on defense.