Despite what side of the fence you are on regarding football defensive coordinator Matt House, I think it can be said with an objective opinion that he's not as good as his supporters feel like and he's not as bad as his detractors like to paint him. Blaming everything solely on House as some fans seem to want to do is short-sighted. That said, House surely had his share of issues in 2014 with the defense not doing an adequate job in several games.
I won't get into all of the ins and outs of why I think he's not as bad or as good, but for the first part of the season, when the offense struggled the Panther defense played well. Add to this the much discussed about injuries and a suspension, and it was no wonder the defensive line and secondary were paper thin. There are some things you just can't hide when the bodies aren't there and House and company were handcuffed to a degree with all of the losses there.
I didn't believe Matt House was the right person for the job when he got it. In his second year, there are some things that have happened where I just don't think he's the right guy now, either (like sticking true freshman Avonte Maddox on Jamison Crowder from Duke instead of junior Lafayette Pitts for a half).
Here's the thing. If Pitt doesn't cut ties with him this season, he could conceivably buy himself more time. The defense is losing some strong contributors with David Durham, Ray Vinopal, Anthony Gonzalez, and Todd Thomas finishing up their senior years. Some are easier to replace than others, but they will all be missed. But Pitt might have enough talent to put a band-aid on a situation that isn't very good, allowing House to skate by.
On the defensive line, nearly everyone is back and the young players will be a year older. At linebacker, Pitt takes a hit with losses of Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez. But get on the field even more than they are now. They are explosive, talented, and have some good instincts. Talk to anyone and you'll hear raves about true freshman Jamal Davis, who could have played some this season if he didn't miss a lot of training camp. Since he didn't, he'll still be a freshman and so will James Folston Jr, who has a tremendous amount of talent. I think the linebackers will have a nice blend of talent and I don't think you'll see as much drop off as many think.
Then there is the secondary. It was thin before Titus Howard's suspension and Terrish Webb's injury and it's really bad right now. They lose Vinopal, but also get Howard and Webb back next season. In addition, the young guys Avonte Maddox and Patrick Amara have a year under their belts now and overall, the unit adds a good bit of experience. Even Lafayette Pitts has had his moments and with guys like Reggie Mitchell and newcomers Phillipe Motley, Jalen Williams, Malik Henderson, and Jordan Whitehead in the mix, there's a lot of depth.
In all, Pitt's defense should be better in almost every regard next season. They might be good enough to make you forget about Matt House's first two seasons, in fact. If House survives this offseason, he could buy himself more time as the defense (hopefully) rebounds in 2015.
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@BrunoPittsburgh.