What You Need To Know About The Pitt Defense
– With a defensive head coach in Pat Narduzzi, and with new defensive coordinator Randy Bates, and with a defensive mind like Charlie Partridge’s handling the line, it’s way past time the Pitt defense started to rock. It allows close to 27 points and close to 400 yards per game, with the primary problem a secondary that got hit for 254 yards per game.
Nine starters return on D, there’s depth, there’s talent, and there’s a whole lot of potential to do far more. It all starts with …
– The defensive ends should be terrific. The pass rush sputtered and struggled too much – coming up with 23 sacks and a mere 56 tackles for loss – but that’s about to change.
Sophomore Rashad Weaver was one of the stars of the offseason, and with Dewayne Hendrix and James Folston back, the ends are about to be an issue for opposing quarterbacks. Amir Wats and Shane Roy aren’t massive, but they’re veteran tackles who’ll lead a deep group.
The whole line has to do more to help out a secondary that gets Dane Jackson back at one corner, Damar Hamilton at one safety gig, and is about to deal with some big battles for the other two positions.
– Linebacker should be the team’s best position. Start with leading tackler Oluwaseun Idowu on the strongside, throw in the versatile Saleem Brightwell to produce wherever needed, and then add to the mix Quintin Wirginis in the middle after missing last year hurt, and the Panthers are loaded. That doesn’t even factor in the depth and veterans to work into the rotation.
Biggest Key To The Pitt Defense
At some point, Narduzzi has to give his secondary a break. To put it one way, Pitt is never afraid to give its corners a chance to show what they can do. The pass defense got lit up like a Christmas tree two years ago, and was better last season – but not by much.
Okay, so allowing almost 1,300 fewer yards is an improvement, but there were only nine picks – three came against Rice – for a secondary that was the second-least efficient in the ACC.
If the pass rush really is better – duh – the secondary will be stronger. But without Jordan Whitehead at one safety spot and Avonte Maddox at corner, it might be a rough run for a little while.