Pitt football is ranked 14th in the country in points allowed, and according to ESPN.com, comes in at ninth overall on the defensive side of the ball. Not too bad considering the amount of complaints that are thrown at defensive coordinator Matt House and company.
The lofty rankings are thanks in large part to players such as Anthony Gonzalez, Ray Vinopal, and rising stars Rori Blair and Nicholas Grigsby. Part of the argument against Pitt, however, is more due to the lack of offensive football teams the Panthers have faced in their first seven games of the year than the strength of the defense.
Just how bad have the offenses been that Pitt has faced? I'm glad you asked.
Let this one sink for a moment: Of the teams that the Panthers have faced so far, Virginia scores the most points per game. Their ranking? 73rd. Virginia Tech is the next best at 79th in points for per game. Boston College and Iowa slide in next at 85th and 86th respectively. This is not to take anything away from the Panthers. They still had to show up and perform and they have so far, for the most part.
We knew the Panthers defense had a very thin secondary and an almost equally slight defensive line due to injuries and suspensions. They have had to count on freshmen to step in and against Iowa and Akron, they made us want to look ahead to next year when players like Titus Howard will return, and new recruits like Jordan Whitehead will help bolster the defense significantly. The defensive line loses little next season and has players like Ejuan Price itching to get back on the field, as well as several redshirt freshmen.
The players that are there now will have their statistics tested greatly over the next three weekends, however, and maybe House's detractors will have plenty of ammunition after the next few games. The Panthers will take a major step up in competition, as Georgia Tech will bring in the number five rushing attack in the country on Saturday and pull in 34.4 points per game, which is good for 37th in the country.
There won't be any rest after that when Duke will pull into town with the 31st rushing attack in the country and 44th scoring offense. Finally, Pitt will travel down to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Heels have been on the short end a lot this year, but it's not for a lack of putting points on the board. The Panthers thin secondary will be tested greatly in that one when UNC puts the ball in the air to the tune of 300.0 yards per game so far and 17th in the country in regards to points for per game.
Can Pitt and House keep teams under their season averages and give the offense a chance to score enough points to win? Or will all the House-haters have a field day with the scheme, playcalling, and whatever else they want to complain about?
We shall see.