Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

True to His Words, QB Goes Distance Dinucci Gets His First Collegiate Win, Pleases Coach, Too

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

True to His Words, QB Goes Distance Dinucci Gets His First Collegiate Win, Pleases Coach, Too

Article excerpt

DURHAM, N.C. - It had been a long time since Ben DiNucci started a game and won, a long time since he could speak to family and friends - or reporters, for that matter - with a smile on his face after 60 minutes of football.

He did it far more often than not as a star passer at Pine-Richland High School, but Pitt's 24-17 win Saturday at Duke was his first victory as a college quarterback. Unlike those Pine-Richland days, he didn't light up the scoreboard at Wallace Wade Stadium, didn't even register double-digit completions, but none of that seemed to bother coach Pat Narduzzi too much at all.

All week, the coach insisted the rest of Pitt's offense needed to ease the burden on his redshirt sophomore starting for just the third time at this level, and that's exactly what 336 dominating rushing yards accomplished.

"You take it off of Ben DiNucci's shoulders," Narduzzi said afterward. "Ben had a heck of a good game, did some good things in his decision-making and the run game."

DiNucci was far from sharp, throwing for just 149 yards on 8-for-18 passing and taking three sacks, but it was a different statistic that seemed to matter most to Narduzzi. Zero, as in zero interceptions and zero lost fumbles for a grand total of zero turnovers, which had been DiNucci's primary weakness in the eyes of the coaching staff.

Apparently, that's precisely what Narduzzi was hoping for Thursday after practice when he asked DiNucci a particularly pointed question as they walked off the field: "Hey, when's Kenny getting in the game?"

Translation: At what point will I have to bench you for freshman backup Kenny Pickett like last week against N.C. State?

"He's not," was DiNucci's reply, and it was just what Narduzzi wanted to hear.

"He's going to get better every week, and that's all we ask him to do," Narduzzi said. "And you know what? He's competing, and he knows the heat's on him, and that's the great thing. . When you know that the coaches don't hesitate to put somebody in there, it makes you go prepare harder."

And it makes you tell your coach in no uncertain terms that you'll be putting in a full day's work next time you get the chance. …

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