Randy Bates and Pat Narduzzi have been rolling out great defenses at Pitt for what seems like forever. I’m not sure one could use the word “great” this year, however. The Panthers have given up 79 points in the last two games and they aren’t causing the havoc like they have in years past. Louisville is looking to take advantage of the Panthers’ issues while Pitt looks to improve coming off of a bye week.
Everything in this defense starts up front and that seems to be the issue for Pitt. The defensive line hasn’t produced many stats and they aren’t occupying blockers well enough to let the linebackers make those plays. At least not in the way that we’ve seen in the past. Teams have been able to keep drives going even after negative plays because the defensive front hasn’t been consistent. There is not one player that stands out in the group but as a group, they are still one of the better lines UofL will see this year.
Pitt’s linebackers have been very good this year with Solomon DeShields leading the way. He leads the team in tackles for loss and plays with impressive speed. Shane Simon is a transfer from Notre Dame who can handle blockers well and is a solid tackler. The issue that jumps out to me with this group is that they don’t run extremely well. With the way that Jawhar Jordan is running the ball, you have to wonder if he ends up with a lot of space in the second level.
Cornerback is an important position on this defense with all of the man coverage they run. The corners get left on an island a lot and they can be beaten on simple routes down the field. M.J. Devonshire has been a starter throughout his career at Pitt and before at Kentucky. He has great speed and has made some nice plays in coverage during his career. He will pair with Marquis Williams who has Pitt’s only interception on the year. They combined for four touchdowns on interceptions last season. They can be beaten, but they can also beat you.
Donovan McMillon has been a very good addition for Pitt as he leads the team in tackles. The Florida transfer has also been good in coverage and teams with Javon McIntyre to make up a good safety tandem. Jeff Brohm will likely look to create some big plays down the field after struggling to get his big-play offense going. These two might be up to the test if they end up being picked on.