Pitt defense settles in after slow start against Syracuse

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt's defense didn't inspire fans much on the first drive of the game against the Syracuse offense. Four snaps (all running plays) later, and the Orange were already in the end zone. It looked like it would be a long day for the defense, but they stepped up in a big way after that.

Immediately after that, the D forced four consecutive Syracuse punts. Their backs were then against the wall when Kevin Weatherspoon fumbled a punt return and gave the Orange the ball back on their own 24-yard line, but the defense again responded. Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt threw two incomplete passes and was taken down once on a run for no gain and the Orange were held to a field goal.

Syracuse did get a touchdown in the third quarter, but the defense also forced two more punts. The defense was also ready in the fourth quarter. They started off by forcing another punt and were then handcuffed when Syracuse had the ball at midfield after a Tom Savage interception. The defense responded well keeping the Orange out of the end zone despite the short field and then Orange then missed a field goal. Another punt and the fourth down stop on the last Syracuse drive wrapped things up nicely.

It wasn't the first time this year that the defense has started out shaky only to play well. They gave up a touchdown to Virginia Tech on their first drive then kept them to 19 for the game. They gave up a touchdown to Georgia Tech on their first drive of the game but still kept them to only 21 points. Ditto in the Notre Dame game when they gave up a first-quarter touchdown then held the Irish to 21.

The defense hasn't started out well several times this season, but have generally settled down as the game has gone on. That happened again on Saturday against Syracuse.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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