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Panther Hollow: Defense Righting The Wrongs Under New Coach

By Matt Popchock
Shane Gordon

Pitt junior linebacker Shane Gordon wraps up Virginia Tech running back Martin Scales during Saturday’s 35-17 win at Heinz Field. (Photo credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — The Panthers are coming off their best defensive effort of the young season as they prepare for Gardner-Webb, the second of two FCS visitors this season, and new defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable believes the players are starting to buy what the coaches are selling.

He was particularly impressed with how his secondary forced bad decisions and interceptions thrown by Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas that accounted for three of Pitt’s four turnovers in Saturday’s surprising victory.

“I thought our coverage was much better. We were tighter in our coverage, we had bodies on bodies the way that we talk about, and created some takeaways, along with getting some pressure on the quarterback,” Huxtable told the media on the South Side after Wednesday’s practice.

According to the coach, the season-ending ACL injury to true freshman cornerback Jamahl Pardner will mean an increased role for redshirt senior defensive back Andrew Taglianetti.

“We talk about being an ‘assignment’ defense, and about being an accountable defense,” he said. “We were that on Saturday, for the most part, a lot better than we were the first two games.”

Check out the rest of what Huxtable talked about, including the play of the defensive line, and how junior Aaron Donald adjusted to the double-teams he had been facing from recent opponents:

Kickoff between the Panthers and Bulldogs is set for 3:30 at Heinz Field, with Panther Gameday, featuring Gregg Giannotti, starting at 1:00, on your flagship home for Pitt football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.