PITTSBURGH -- As the Pitt Panthers prepared for their ACC opener against Georgia Tech, one player stood out on the Yellow Jackets' film - quarterback Jeff Sims.
Sims has been at the center of Pitt's gameplan this week because he is Georgia Tech's best player. The Yellow Jackets run almost everything through him whether they want to attack on the ground or through the air. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has immense respect for what Sims can do with both his arms and his legs.
“I really like him," Narduzzi said. "I think he’s a talented, talented young man and he’s starting to get older. … He’s tall, he’s long, he’s rangy. ... He can make all the throws and he can scramble out of the pocket. If he doesn’t like what he sees, you better be able to keep him in the pocket."
Narduzzi said that Sims' first instinct when he scrambles is usually to run and with his speed, that's a good thing for Tech. Often his best plays come when things break down and he's forced to go off-script.
"I think he’s being coached hard that if your read is not where you thought you wanted to go, then take off and run and he does," Narduzzi said. "You watch the third down and long tape and he’s either throwing it or he’s taking off and running and there’s not a whole lot of going … to his third progression.”
When faced with an opponent who thrives so much after breaking containment, defenses will sometimes try to play a little softer on him. They'll rush more deliberately to make sure that he can't outflank them. But Narduzzi wants his defense to lean on their aggressive personality.
“We have to be in kill mode, not capture mode," Narduzzi said. "There’s two modes — let’s keep him in the pocket, bring kind of like a slow rush and everybody is scared that he’s going to get out. We’re not going to play scared. We’re going to go get him. He’s a big guy, he’s not easy to bring down, but we have to go get him. So it’s go get ‘em, not a contain ‘em."
The other key for Pitt will be to disguise and vary their coverages. They want to make Sims think for a little longer and takeaway that offense's bread and butter.
"We’ll have to change things up on him, confuse him a little bit as far as what we’re doing with him to not make it easy on him," Narduzzi said. "Because if you’re in cover three, he’s going to shoot it out to No. 1 and he can fire it out and get it to him quick.”
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