PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Torched last year as the second worst pass defense in Division 1, you might think Pitt is overhauling their defense to improve this year.

But secondary coach Renaldo Hill said simply, “Understand this is our defense, we will play it and we won’t back down.”

And with that, the Panthers have gone about trying to improve their man coverage this off-season. And Hill is doing that by trying to have more fun.

“We play a position where there are going to be times where you are going to get beat, but you have to have that excitement and enjoy playing with each other,” Hill said. “That excitement feeds off to the next guy and that’s what we want. In turn, we hope that puts us in position to make plays.”

“We’re having more fun out on the field, that’s always a good thing,” said sophomore corner Dane Jackson. “It shows that we are more comfortable. Our room leader, Avonte Maddox, he’s done a great job of bringing us together.”

Maddox is the lone senior in that group and says he wants to be the voice of the team and is also the voice of the coaches to the younger guys. Maddox also told us they are working more on long passes this year.

“What we do now is, we just work on deep balls most of the time in practice,” Maddox said. “We run deep balls every day, that’s one thing we do a lot now. We compete more, we want to finish at the end play and win the 50-50 balls and come out victorious.”

Maddox said for every deep ball that is caught, the secondary has to do 10 push-ups, “that way we get stronger and better”.

“We just go back to the drawing board, we go back to the fundamentals,” said safety Dennis Briggs. “Every one of us as a player we have to look at the man in the mirror and think about the things that we did wrong and the areas we can improve. When we all focus on ourselves as individuals, we will do better as a team.”

“We want to be an attack force on defense,” Briggs added. “We don’t just want to worry about defending our goalline, rather we want to attack during the course of the game.”

“This has worked in the past,” Hill said of the scheme. “We have results that this has been successful. We just have to be committed to it and I think as a staff and a team we’re committed to playing this style of football and that’s what we’re going to do.”

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