Here is a piece by our long time reader Ike on the Defensive Line going into Spring Practices.
First off, who will not be back this year? Well going all the way back to PITT’s spring roster at this time last year there are a few names you probably have forgotten about it were expected to contribute.
1) Kam Carter… no, not him, you most likely remember him.
2) Allen Edwards… ditto for Edwards, he didn’t play up to expectations.
3) Rori Balir….. maybe you forgot about this guy who let the team down.
4) Devon Edwards…. yes, he was listed at DL last spring.
5) Kaezon Pugh…. 4* recuit – this is too bad..
6) Jeremiah Taleni.. last but not least. Taleni did help PITT go 5-7 last year by not playing for us.
I’d say those guys disappointed us last season. Nothing much to miss but their smiling faces and their love for PITT. Good luck young men.
Who’s in the middle of the DL for 2018?
1) 3* Shane Roy is back and I do expect to him help out a whole lot.
2) 3* Mike Herndon.. who know where he lines up but he did play some last year on the DL but could also be moved back to the OL.
3) 4* Amir Watts….. did not RS his first year. It’s time for him to start really contributing.
4) 2* Rashad Weaver… This young man looked good and lined up all over the front line.(Weaver started at DE last year but Ike wants him inside so that’s where he’ll be listed)
5) 3* Rashad Wheeler.. Played more as the season went on and as the defense played better.
6) 3* Keyshon Camp… Need him to step up after getting his feet wet last year.
7) 3* Jaylen Twyman.. The expectations are high with Twyman.
The all-important Defensive Ends;
This unit will be under pressure to really perform this year because last season Pitt was pretty bad in getting pressure on the opposing QBs with our 74th national ranking (11th in ACC) with only 23 sacks. What was worse is that our top two ‘sackers’ were a LB (Idowu) and a CB (Maddox). They accounted for nine of those 23 sacks. DE’s Hendrix and Weaver were the top two lineman in sacks with only three each.
This is one area that is critical to Narduzzi’s defensive philosophy – which revolves around getting pressure on the opposing QBs to force them to throw early. Obviously that has failed miserably over the last three years…
Here are the roster DEs.
1) 4* Dewayne Hendrix… will this be the year he the play-maker?
2) 3* James Folston… Steady Eddy who makes big plays once in a while.
3) 2* Patrick Jones the II.. also played more later in the season.
4) 3* Deslin Alexandre.. Early enrollee last year and hopefully ahead of the curve.
Incoming… Narduzzi did try to address the D-Line unit with this current recruiting class..
1) 3* Tyler Bentley.. could help this year
2) 3* Devin Danielson.. Most think he could be the freshman that sees playing time in the interior.
3) 3* John Morgan.. A good player who may need to develop. Comes from a good high school to draw recruits from.
4) 3* Kaymar Mimes ..another young man from out of state.
5) 3* Habakkuk Baldonado… raw as can be with a big upside.
What does this mean?
This is a tough group to get a handle on but what’s obvious is this is a young group in general with a couple players who could be difference makers. Of course Weaver is hard to set at one position and a player like him should give Partridge more options along the line.
Throw in a brand new DC and the outlook really gets muddled. There’s the group and I hope I didn’t leave anyone out especially someone obvious, and truthfully it feels like I must have as I don’t know how strong this group will be.
Well, I do think there is plenty potential here and as always I’ll keep a positive thought. Lastly, this entire Defensive unit needs to play together this year. There are some good spots and some question marks in others. You know, like most defenses have…
Editors Note: Here are some of 2017’s work this group has to build on. We did pretty well against the run last year as we were 41st (5th in ACC) allowing only 142 ypg. However, as we saw above this group did nothing to help out our pass defense which was ranked 105th (13th ACC) allowing 254 ypg in the air.
One stat that jumps out at me – and where we absolutely must improve on this year is the very poor Tackles For Loss category our defense had – and this is most the DLs work (or lack thereof). We were 105th nationally (13th ACC) in tackling the other team behind the line of scrimmage with only 4.7 times per game – horrible.
If we can’t put pressure on the QB and make our opponents have negative yardage plays then we’ll repeat what we did last season.