Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Out of Their League Panthers Gashed by Notre Dame, but Still Set Sights on Winning Acc

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Out of Their League Panthers Gashed by Notre Dame, but Still Set Sights on Winning Acc

Article excerpt

When asked earlier this week how to defend Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi just responded, "You've got to cover the guy."

If only it was that simple.

The Panthers had no answer for Fuller, who got behind their defense early and often en route to a 42-30 Notre Dame win Saturday at Heinz Field.

Fuller finished with seven catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns, and Notre Dame pulled away late despite Pitt's insistence on keeping the game close for most of the afternoon.

The key to Fuller's success, according to Narduzzi, was Notre Dame's ability to gain consistent yards on the ground - despite losing starting running back C.J. Prosise to injury in the first half. The Irish finished with 175 rushing yards, including 147 from freshman Josh Adams.

"When you can't stop the run, then he's going to throw posts on you," Narduzzi said. "We can go back and help him and play cover-3 and keep everyone back. Then they're just going to run the ball down your throat and you're going to say, 'Hey, did you ever think about putting more guys in the box?' They only let us play with 11."

Fuller had two touchdown catches in the first half and added his third midway through the third quarter to put the Irish up, 28-10.

"We changed it up a little bit, but he's a good football player," Narduzzi said. "What are you going to do?"

The Panthers still managed to hang around, and trailed by just 11 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, thanks largely to the offensive debut of freshman safety Jordan Whitehead.

Whitehead was electric on offense in his high school days at Central Valley, but had only played safety for the Panthers since arriving on campus in June. Against the Irish, he got four carries for 27 yards and two touchdowns - the second of which cut Notre Dame's lead to 28-17 late in the third quarter. Narduzzi said Whitehead will remain a part of Pitt's offensive game plan.

"Maybe I'm really dumb and we should've started [using him] earlier," Narduzzi said. …

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