Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt to host Austin Peay in 2020 season opener Sept. 12

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh will host Austin Peay in the 2020 season opener at Heinz Field on Sept. 12.

The Panthers announced the game on Tuesday. Austin Peay replaces Miami (Ohio) on Pitt’s schedule after the Mid-American Conference announced earlier this month it would postpone fall athletics.

The game will be the first-ever between the Governors – a member of the Football Championship Subdivision – and the Panthers. Austin Peay reached the FCS quarterfinals last fall.

The game also completes Pitt’s revised 2020 schedule. The Atlantic Coast Conference scuttled the original schedule after the Big Ten and Pac 12 both opted to postpone their fall seasons.

The Panthers will play 10 ACC opponents. Austin Peay will serve as Pitt’s lone non-conference game.

Parsons, Sewell among AP preseason All-Americans not playing

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Oregon tackle Penei Sewell are among 11 players selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America first team who are not slated to play this fall.

The team was selected by 47 AP poll voters, who were asked to consider all Division I players – even those who had already opted out of the season or whose teams had postponed football.

The results show just how much star power will be missing from this pandemic-altered college football season. Twelve second-team All-Americans will also not play in the fall, including quarterback Justin Fields from defending Big Ten champion and preseason No. 2 Ohio State.

The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American and Mountain West conferences have decided to try to play football in the second semester. As of now, Fields has given no indication that he won’t be with the Buckeyes if they do. Same goes for Sewell, the Outland Trophy winner and potential top-five NFL draft pick, and Oregon teammate Kayvon Thibodeaux, a sophomore defensive end.

Parsons is among a handful of stars who have said they are gone for good, opting out of the season to concentrate on preparing for the draft. Along with Parsons, Purdue’s Rondale Moore, selected as an all-purpose player, Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman were first-team All-America opt outs.

The All-Americans who will play this season include Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

FIRST TEAM

Offense

Quarterback – Trevor Lawrence, junior, Clemson.

Running backs – Chuba Hubbard, junior, Oklahoma State; Travis Etienne, senior, Clemson.

Tackles – x-Penei Sewell, junior, Oregon; Alex Leatherwood, senior, Alabama.

Guards – x-Wyatt Davis, junior, Ohio State; Trey Smith, senior, Tennessee.

Center – Creed Humphrey, junior, Oklahoma.

Tight end – x-Pat Freiermuth, junior, Penn State.

Receivers – Ja’Marr Chase, junior, LSU; DeVonta Smith, senior, Alabama.

All-purpose player – y-Rondale Moore, junior, Purdue.

Kicker – x-Keith Duncan, senior, Iowa.

DEFENSE

Ends – x-Kayvon Thibodeaux, sophomore, Oregon; y-Gregory Rousseau, junior, Miami.

Tackles – Marvin Wilson, senior, Florida State; y-Jaylen Twyman, junior, Pitt.

Linebackers – y-Micah Parsons, junior, Penn State; x-Hamilcar Rashed Jr., senior, Oregon State; Dylan Moses, senior, Alabama.

Cornerbacks – Derek Stingley Jr., sophomore, LSU; x-Shaun Wade, junior, Ohio State.

Safeties – Richard LeCounte, senior, Georgia; Andre Cisco, junior, Syracuse.

Punter – Max Duffy, senior, Kentucky.

SECOND TEAM

Offense

Quarterback – x-Justin Fields, junior, Ohio State.

Running backs – Najee Harris, senior, Alabama; Kenneth Gainwell, sophomore, Memphis.

Tackles – Samuel Cosmi, junior, Texas; x-Cole Van Lanen, senior, Wisconsin.

Guards – x-Nolan Laufenberg, senior, Air Force; x-Alijah Vera-Tucker, junior, Southern California.

Center – x-Tyler Linderbaum, junior, Iowa.

Tight end – Charlie Kolar, junior, Iowa State.

Receivers – Tylan Wallace, senior, Oklahoma State; y-Rashod Bateman, junior, Minnesota.

All-purpose player – Jaylen Waddle, junior, Alabama.

Kicker – Gabe Brkic, sophomore, Oklahoma.

Defense

Ends – Carlos Basham, senior, Wake Forest; Quincy Roche, senior, Miami.

Tackles – y-Jay Tufele, junior, Southern California; x-Levi Onwuzurike, senior, Washington.

Linebackers – Chazz Surratt senior, North Carolina; Nick Bolton, junior, Missouri; x-Paddy Fisher, senior, Northwestern.

Cornerbacks – Patrick Surtain II, junior, Alabama; y-Caleb Farley, junior, Virginia Tech.

Safeties – x-Jevon Holland, junior, Oregon; Trevon Moehrig, junior, TCU.

Punter – x-Adam Korsak, junior, Rutgers.

(x-team not scheduled to play in the fall; y-opted out of season)

Collisions … or COVID-19? Pitt relieved after scare

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH — In a different time, the way a number of Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi‘s players felt when they woke up last Thursday morning would not have been overly alarming.

It is 2020.

Headache. Body ache. When the players self-reported the symptoms as they’ve been instructed in the age of the COVID-19, Narduzzi immediately went into high alert. He told the affected players to call the trainer immediately. He canceled practice, addressed the athletes already at the team’s practice facility by position group and ordered them back to their apartments without so much as taking a shower.

“So it scares you,” Narduzzi said Monday. “You’ve got to be safe. Poof. Shut it down.”

It turned out to be a false alarm. The players tested negative for the novel coronavirus. Turns out their issues instead were the typical after-effects of the first padded practice of training camp. During any other August, their issues would have been a blip. Not this August.

Welcome to coaching in a pandemic.

“It’s only practice,” said Narduzzi, whose team returned to workouts last Friday following a one-day pause. “The calendar changes. You’re just doing what you need to do from there.”

The 54-year-old Narduzzi, a creature of habit like most of his brethren, is doing his best to adapt. He has stopped trying to predict what will or won’t happen. It’s useless. The best he can do right now is provide some structure to his players and hope they’re following the protocols as best they can. Earlier this month he touted a 22-day stretch without a positive COVID-19 test. He declined to do that on Monday, instead saying simply that the team is on an impressive winning streak.

It’s telling of the volatile state of organized sports that what looked like a potential outbreak was met not with panic but a relative shrug from the Panthers.

“I wouldn’t say surreal just because this whole process has been insane,” redshirt freshman quarterback Joey Yellen said. “But I thought we handled it really well. I thought we were really cautious with what we did. He sent everyone home and stuff. We kind of just played it by ear at that point. Took the day off and were able to come back the next day.”

That nearly Zen-like approach is one of the reasons Narduzzi is optimistic the Panthers and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference can forge ahead with a season while conferences like the Big Ten and the Pac-12 sit out. He praised his players for embracing the ACC guidelines. He also scoffed at the idea of the NCAA having any say in what plays out in a Power Five conference.

“The NCAA. Who is the NCAA?” Narduzzi said. “I don’t even know who they are. They’re nonexistent. I don’t think the NCAA can fine me. I think the ACC can fine me. I don’t think the NCAA could. So I don’t know.”

Narduzzi said he’s not afraid of his players getting sick while they’re together. The players fill out a four-question survey on an app each morning, with the results then sent to the coaching and training staff. If they don’t feel well, they are advised to avoid the practice facility and wait for further instructions. Narduzzi only grows anxious when his players head back to campus.

“I told them the other day is what I’d like to do is put them in the indoor (facility), line up mattresses around the place and we just bunk right there,” he said. “Take doors, shut’em, lock’em up and not let’em out and keep them in our little paradise down here.”

He’s kidding, but only a little. The worry about what happens when the Panthers begin in-person classes on Aug. 24 is real.

“I’m concerned when school starts,” Narduzzi said. “That’s my concern. Got to keep them away and make sure they don’t get the cooties.”