Early in the season junior linebacker Shane Gordon lamented the lack of “assignment football” being played by Pitt’s defense. Now the Panthers know what their jobs are, and know they must finish the job against South Florida Saturday night to redefine their 2012 campaign.

“I feel like every week we’ve been getting better,” Gordon said, opining that his team has practiced better since its second bye week. “It’s just a matter of locking in, and focus.”

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Gordon, a Fort Lauderdale native, is well aware of USF’s injury woes and related offensive struggles, but he is also aware of–and close to–a number of their stars.

“Like always, a lot of athletes…Florida guys with their speed,” he added. “They have a young quarterback (redshirt freshman Matt Floyd), so we’ve got to go after him, and with our team, we can’t take them lightly.”

Looking back on his life as a college prospect, which included nearly committing to South Florida instead, he believes the change of scenery benefited him:

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Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable, whose Panthers rank third in the Big East in total defense (344.8 yards allowed per game) and in the top 25 nationally, has seen progress from this unit since the beginning of the season, and he elaborated on that progress earlier this week:

Following the loss to Connecticut, Huxtable went to work with his players on tackling drills. It paid rich dividends against Rutgers in last Saturday’s 27-6 win, as Pitt held the Scarlet Knights to 207 total yards, forced nine straight punts to start the game, and, at one point in the first half, forced five consecutive three-and-outs.

“We tackled better. Hopefully we have that same consistency in tackling this week,” Huxtable said.

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Kickoff between the Panthers (2-4, 5-6) and Bulls (1-5, 3-8) at Raymond James Stadium is set for 7:00 on your flagship home of Pitt football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.