Pitt Panthers College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– You can’t just replace a devastating defensive front that lived behind the line for the last few years, can you? The Panthers came up with 46 sacks last season after generating 51 in 2019 to go along with 214 tackles for loss over the last two years.
Defensive coordinator Randy Bates and D line coach Charlie Partridge knows how to restock the shelves, but this is going to take some work.
The hope and belief is that it’s John Morgan’s time. He’s a 250-pound outside linebacker playing defensive end who made just 13 tackles but came up with four sacks and seven tackles for loss. His only problem was a loaded group ahead of him.
Morgan should be the leader of the pass rushing pack, and the the tackles are in place to let it all work. 300-pounders Devin Danielson and Tyler Bentley – along with 280-pound David Green – should be terrific, and they should get behind the line at times.
– The linebacking corps will be outstanding with Cam Bright, SirVocea Dennis and Phil Campbell experienced, active, and all of them should be in the mix for all-star honors. That doesn’t even include 250-pound Chase Pine, a thumper on the inside who might just lead the team in tackles depending on the alignment.
– You don’t get better when you lose safeties as good as Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford. The secondary has been hit-or-miss with Pitt’s defensive style, but it helps when the pass rush is so dominant.
If he’s healthy, Damarri Mathis has the talent to be among the ACC’s better corners. The safeties are young, but they’ve got a world of upside. Brandon Hill and Erick Hallett now get their chances to shine, and they should be stat-sheet stars.