Posted: 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013
Much has been made of Pitt's defense since the Duke win. Giving up 55 points to a team that isn't considered very good is a disaster - make no mistake about it. But a closer look reveals the defense may not be as bad as previously thought.
I went back and look at the drive charts from the game. Surprisingly, there were times when the defense not only played reasonably well, but thrived.
To start the game, Pitt stopped Duke on three of their first four drives. The Panthers recorded two interceptions on Duke's first two drives and after giving up a score, forced a punt.
The Blue Devils were also shut down in the third quarter. Pitt forced two punts to start things off and then stopped Duke on a 4th and short as Todd Thomas snuffed out the fake punt attempt. Duke did score a touchdown in that quarter late, but it came on a 75-yard touchdown on bad coverage. It was a bad play, but it wasn't as if the Blue Devils marched methodically down the field where Pitt simply couldn't stop them.
Pitt was a disaster in the fourth quarter giving up three touchdowns, but they also had two more interceptions, including Anthony Gonzalez' pick six. One of those touchdowns was also off of a ridiculously short field after Pitt's botched punt attempt on special teams.
The last thing I want this to come off as is that the defense played well. Giving up 55 points to anyone is bad and giving them up to a mediocre team is even worse. Call me crazy, but as bad as the defense was, I'm not quite ready to write them off yet. In between all of the touchdowns, they also made some big plays and special teams had more than its fair share of mistakes in contributing to all of the points.
Much improvement needs to be made and another thing to note is that defense had troubles against Florida State and New Mexico, too. Still, I expect them to get better as the season goes on and I'm not sure it's a finished product.