Heads or tails? Doesn’t matter. There was confusion at Pitt/PSU coin toss | TribLIVE.com
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Jerry DiPaola

Winning the coin toss doesn’t always work to a team’s advantage.

Pitt’s captains guessed right at the start of the Penn State game Saturday night, but somehow coach Pat Narduzzi’s wishes to defer and play defense first got turned around and Pitt went on offense.

“There was confusion,” Narduzzi said.

But Narduzzi said it didn’t need to be that way.

“I don’t know what it was,” he said. “The head linesman asked me (before the coin toss), ‘What do you want to do?’ ”

Narduzzi told him he planned to defer. But, amidst the noise of a sellout crowd at Heinz Field, the message never got relayed to the officials at midfield. and Pitt ended up with the ball

“At halftime, he comes up to me and says, ‘What end do you want to kick from (to start the second half)?’ And I said, ‘What does it matter? I told you we wanted to defer and you didn’t help our guys, so why am I telling you?’ ”

Narduzzi said he blamed himself, but he also mentioned his “new, young captains,” even though senior safety Dennis Briggs is a two-year captain. The other three — Quintin Wirginis, Alex Bookser and game-day captain George Aston — also are seniors.

“Part of growing up,” he said. “I said, ‘Do you guys know what defer means?’ Just say you want to play offense or defense. They’ll figure it out from there.

“It was just an error out there. Went the way the day did, I guess. When it rains, it pours.”

As it turned out, Pitt got the ball, went three-and-out and punted to Penn State. The Nittany Lions scored in three plays to take a 7-0 lead.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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