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Technical Tidbits 10/5: Narduzzi preps Panthers for Tech, Simmons earns more playing time

Will Narduzzi's defense have better luck against Paul Johnson's option this time around?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Antonio Simmons, who put together a very solid game against Miami last weekend, is one of the Tech defenders who could be in line for additional snaps this week against Pittsburgh, writes the AJC. As a defensive end, Simmons is a member of one of Tech's absolute weakest units in terms of production. The lack of any pass-rush on The Flats has been well-documented for years now, with no one stepping up as a formidable threat since the departure of Jeremiah Attaochu at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Even if it isn't Simmons that gets the defensive line back on track, riding the hot hand is a smart move for Ted Roof and defensive line coach Mike Pelton because so few players have cemented themselves as solid and reliable starters.

There are a couple of teams out there that have decent formulas for stopping Georgia Tech's offense, but Pittsburgh just hasn't been one of them since joining the ACC a few seasons back. That's something that weighs heavily on the mind of Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, one of college football's best defensive minds who has seen his teams consistently stymied by the triple option attacks of both Tech and Navy since his hiring last season. It's true that the Panthers defeated the Jackets on a school-record field goal of 56 yards last season (made by the same kicker who could have sent Tech to Charlotte a week earlier back in 2014 had he not whiffed from 20-something against Virginia Tech, of course), but Tech did run for north of 370 yards in that game. This year's Pitt team looks even more formidable on both sides of the ball, given that star running back James Conner has returned from his battle with cancer and that their rushing defense is among the top five nationally. How Tech responds when down 1-2 in the ACC will be a telling sign for the rest of the season.

For the Oregon Ducks, the recent struggles of head coach Mark Helfrich could lead to the end of a very impressive run in Eugene, one wherein no head coach has been fired in the last 40 years. The last time the Ducks made a coaching change by issuing a pink slip was way back in 1976 when the school made the decision to fire Don Read and hire Rich Brooks, the man who would go on to lead Oregon for nearly two decades. From there, the reigns were handed to Mike Belotti for another thirteen years and then to Chip Kelly for another four after that prior to Helfrich's hiring in 2013. It's a testament to continuity in college football, a tradition that most schools have left behind; the Ducks struggled through some turbulence under Brooks before turning a corner towards the end of his tenure, hiring from within to replace him, and becoming a perennial college football power.