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Pitt's head coach Pat Narduzzi wishes that the scrimmage this Saturday will be more impressive than the Blue-Gold Game scheduled for next week

The Big Blitz dance, jazz, and rock band will not be performing at Acrisure Stadium on Saturday.

The group named Big Blitz, which plays dance, jazz, and rock music, will not be performing at Acrisure Stadium on Saturday.

The Bad AZZ BBQ will not be cooking smoked ribs on the street.

Louis Riddick from ESPN will not be involved in launching a new line of Pitt apparel for his former school.

The cameras of ACC Network will be turned off and kept in storage.

However, all of these activities will take place and be part of the events on April 13 at Pitt’s annual Blue-Gold Game at Acrisure. The live scrimmage on Saturday, which is invitation-only, will give a much better idea of the appearance of Pitt’s football team when the season opens on August 31 against Kent State.

Coach Pat Narduzzi stated, “It should be the best (scrimmage) of the year.”

According to any coach, coaches are more comfortable and willing to try new plays and setups when no one is watching.

“The Spring Game will be on ACC Network,” he said. “I don’t want to show everything we’re doing. We’ll keep it a little bit vanilla.”

Pitt concluded its second-to-last week of spring drills on Thursday. Here are a few anecdotes:

1. Slow and steady

Coach Pat Narduzzi spoke to reporters on Tuesday and seemed content with what he observed during a four-minute drill at the end of practice. Offensive coordinator Kade Bell temporarily abandoned the no-huddle offense and proceeded at a regular pace.

“It was good to see our offense get in an actual huddle, just learn how to eat up the clock,” Narduzzi mentioned.

Yes, Bell wants to snap the football about 12-18 seconds after the end of the previous play, but no unit can keep it up for four quarters. There also needs to be some traditional sequences, such as closing out the game with a lead by huddling up, running the ball and moving the sticks.

There will be growing pains associated with this offense that might lead to a slow start to the season. A more traditional approach at strategically sound points of the game — with a strong running game — isn’t a bad idea.

2. QBs’ quick release

Quarterbacks will attempt to release the football quicker this season, utilizing a strategy that can frustrate the pass rush. Nothing slows down an up-tempo offense more effectively than a sack.

“You want to take those completions,” Narduzzi said. “Coach Bell does a great job of trying to teach them to take what (the defense is) giving you. Everybody would like to have the deep ball, but we want completions and keep the drive going.”

Narduzzi mentioned that the popular phrase “50/50 ball” (when the receiver and defender appear to have equal opportunity to catch the football) isn’t accurate regarding long passes.

“Most times I’ve been around, those deep balls are maybe — maybe — 20%. I can go through the past 18 years of football and show you that it probably averages 13% or 14%. As a defensive guy, you like (the offense) taking shots because usually they’re going to fall incomplete.”

Does that mean Bell will limit the use of the deep pass this season? Or, is Narduzzi creating a misleading impression to confuse his opponents?

3. ‘Be selfish about your success’

Jacob Bronowski, the coach for special teams, understands the great responsibility he has, knowing that there are large distances covered every time the players step on the field.

To achieve this, he advises his players to focus on their own success.

He believes that they need to be tough and competitive in their approach, as there is increased competition in special teams this season.

He emphasizes the importance of technique and effort, encouraging the players to believe in themselves and play boldly. He warns that shying away from the challenge would be a disservice to themselves.

Bronowski, who also coaches tight ends, is impressed with senior Gavin Bartholomew's ability in route running.

He mentions that Bartholomew is continuously improving and acknowledges the areas where he needs to work on.

He also appreciates the determination shown by walk-on Josh Altsman, a Central Catholic graduate and Zelienople resident.

He admires Altsman's tenacity and dedication, describing him as someone who is willing to sacrifice and making coaching enjoyable.

4. It’s time to relax

Senior kicker Ben Sauls' preparation includes daily meditation for about 10-20 minutes.

He believes meditation is essential for maintaining calmness and composure in his position. Sauls also practices breath work and visualization to prepare for games and enhance his understanding of his performance.

He expresses gratitude for his teammates, including new long snapper Nilay Upadhyayula. He also admits that he is still struggling with the pronunciation of Upadhyayula's name.

In two seasons, Sauls has only missed two field goal attempts within the 40-yard line, but he has a 1 out of 5 record outside the 50-yard line.

He acknowledges that most of his misses are on the left side, indicating that he needs to improve his follow-through.

5. Take it easy, P.J.

As he approaches his fourth season on campus, safety P.J. O’Brien admits to struggling with relaxing.

He expresses his dedication to practicing and his desire for every possible repetition, claiming that he only gets sleepy, not tired.

O’Brien is part of a three-man rotation at safety, with the potential addition of redshirt freshman Cruce Brookins. Brookins has been receiving consistent praise from coaches and teammates.

O’Brien warns the receivers to be cautious of Cruce's aggressive playing style.

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