PITTSBURH — Pitt has faced its fair share of top quarterbacks since Pat Narduzzi took over in 2015.
The Panthers have faced Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, Daniel Jones at Duke, Lamar Jackson at Louisville and Mitchell Trubisky at North Carolina, just to name a few.
But perhaps the star collegiate quarterback the Panthers had the most trouble with over the years was former Oklahoma State passer Mason Rudolph. Pitt faced Rudolph and the Cowboys in a two-game series in 2016 in Stillwater, Oklahoma and at Heinz Field in 2017.
In 2016 Rudolph threw for 540 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-38 win against the Panthers, including a 91-yard touchdown to current Steelers wide receiver,James Washington. A year later, Rudolph led the No. 9 Cowboys to a 59-21 win at Heinz Field. Rudolph threw for 497 yards on 23-32 and five touchdowns.
Two years later, Rudolph will be trying to put up those kinds of numbers in his first NFL start for the Steelers on Sunday in San Francisco.
Narduzzi was impressed with Rudolph during his college days and said he has no doubts that he will continue to improve while with the Steelers.
“There’s a reason he’s in the NFL,” Narduzzi said. “He was spectacular at Oklahoma State. He knows how to throw the ball and he doesn’t get flustered with pressure. … I’m glad I don’t have to play him tomorrow.”
With Narduzzi having first-hand experience of seeing Rudolph in action and being able to watch the way he takes command of an offense, he believes that he will fit in well with the way the Steelers want to do things.
“Mason Rudolph isn’t going to have any problems,” Narduzzi said. “[Rudolph] has a chance to go in and take over. Everybody on that team is playing for him and he’ll have a lot of support behind him.”
When talking about who are the best quarterbacks that Narduzzi has faced at Pitt. He put Rudolph right at the top, with former UNC quarterback Trubisky. Both of whom probably still give Pitt fans nightmares.
Rudolph is replacing a franchise icon in Ben Roethlisberger, and many have questioned the Steelers’ ability to compete with the second-year passer at the helm. But Narduzzi is definitely a believer.
“I think a lot of people are going to be shocked,” he said.
Alan Saunders contributed reporting to this story.
Poll: Would You Attend a Steelers Game if Fans Are Allowed?
The Steelers hope to have fans back in the stands at Heinz Field at some point in the month of October, with team president Art Rooney II saying on Sunday that he feels “it’s time.”
There are obviously still concerns with COVID-19 transmission, as evidenced by the Tennessee Titans shutting down their practices on Tuesday with eight positive COVID-19 tests.
If the team can get government approval, would you as a fan feel comfortable attending a game?
Titans Shut Down Practice after Multiple Positive COVID-19 Tests
The Tennessee Titans have shut down their practices this week after multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the organization, the team announced on Tuesday in advance of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for this Sunday in Nashville.
The Titans had three new player positives and five new staff positives on Tuesday, and both the Titans, and their opponents from Sunday the Minnesota Vikings, have shut down practices for the week, according to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
The #Titans had three new player positives and five new personnel positives for COVID-19, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo. Both Titans and Vikings, who hosted them Sunday, will suspend in person club activities starting today.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 29, 2020
“Out of an abundance of caution, the organization has decided to work remotely today as we follow NFL protocols related to the COVID-19 virus,” the Titans said in a statement to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “Several tests have come back positive and we are working through the process of confirming them. We will have more information [Wednesday].”
After multiple positive COVID tests in their organization , the Titans are halting in-person work today and made this announcement: pic.twitter.com/2LDjIBgyor
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 29, 2020
According to a report ESPN’s Dianna Russini, the NFL is shutting down the Titans’ entire week of practice until Saturday, which would obviously put the status of Sunday’s game in jeopardy.
A league source just texted me: "We are shutting Tennessee down until Saturday"
That means no Titans coaches or players can be in the building.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) September 29, 2020
Update, 10:31 a.m: The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement later on Tuesday morning:
“On Tuesday morning, the Titans COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives. The Titans will suspend in-person club activities starting today. Likewise, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities. Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA, including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments. All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.”
Update, 10:47 a.m: Kevin Seifert of ESPN has confirmed that the tests are not false positives.
Unfortunately, I can confirm, via a league source, that all of these COVID-19 tests have been CONFIRMED positive. The NFL has completed the protocol that would have determined if any were false positive. They weren't.
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) September 29, 2020
Update, 11:43 a.m: The Steelers have postponed Mike Tomlin’s press conference, which was scheduled for noon.
Update, 11:50 a.m: Betting on the Steelers-Titans game has been taken off the board in several casinos, including Parx in Pennsylvania.
The betting market has certainly reacted to news of the Tennessee Titans' positive COVID tests:https://t.co/wD6PYXTuP8
— PJ Walsh (@PJWalsh24) September 29, 2020
Update, 11:57 a.m: Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten has released the following statement:
“We have been in contact with the NFL regarding the positive COVID-19 tests with the Tennessee Titans. We have been informed to proceed with our game preparations for Sunday’s game until we are informed otherwise.
“We will provide more information when it becomes available.”
Update, 12:01 p.m: Albert Breer of NFL Network is reporting that Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen tested positive last week and is not one of the eight positive cases announced by the team on Tuesday.
Some more on the NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak.
• Titans OLB coach Shane Bowen tested positive late last week. His case is NOT one of 8 positives that came up today (5 personnel, 3 players).
• The positives came back this AM. Lab re-ran samples, all came up positive again.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 29, 2020
Update, 1:32 p.m: Mike Garafalo of NFL Network is reporting that the Titans have been told to prepare as if this Sunday’s game is on, even. if it means not practicing until Saturday.
#Titans coaches have told players if they have to go without any work until Saturday, have a walkthrough then and play the #Steelers Sunday then that's what they'll have to do. No excuses. https://t.co/itr0rxkNWs
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 29, 2020
Stay with Steelers Now with more on this developing story.
Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva Explains His Decision to Honor Alwyn Cashe
Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva explains why decided to honor deceased US Army sergeant Alwyn Cashe on his teammate instead of joining the rest of team in honoring police shooting victim Antwon Rose, Jr via Zoom with members of the media on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.
The Steelers had previously announced that the entire team would be honoring Rose, but Villanueva decided to change his mind and honor Cashe. He spoke with Mike Tomlin about that decision, but team captains Cameron Heyward and Ben Roethlisberger said they were surprised by Villanueva’s decision.