The Pitt defense will has sustained some losses during the off season, especially in the defensive backfield. Starters Titus Howard was suspended for the year and Trenton Coles transferred. With similar moves throughout the Defense, the Panthers will have freshman littered all over the two deep chart.
The Panthers do have some senior leadership on this this squad as they will be led by linebackers Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez. Thomas has an NFL skill set and speed. He has the ability to play at the next level per NFL scouts. Also, Mike Tomlin has mentioned that “Number 8″ is a football player. As long as he continues to work hard, he could be special this season. The Panthers will also have Matt Galambos as the third Linebacker in their 4-3 defense.
The Panthers have an experienced defensive line, even though they lost All Everything Aaron Donald from the draft last season. They have sophomore Shakir Soto, and senior David Durham at ends, and Junior tackle, Darryl Render. At nose tackle, they have Junior K Mosley Smith coming back. The squad is solid, though they lack experienced depth. On the two deep, they back ups are all Freshman or Sophomore. That could at times make things rough for the Panthers secondary when rotating these guys in and out. That will also put more pressure on the Pitt Offense to hold onto the ball longer and give their defense some breaks.
The secondary, as we mentioned earlier, has sustained some losses. Though they are anchored by Junior Lafayette Pitts at Corner and Ray Senior Vinopal at safety. Their other options are all Freshman or Sophomore options. They have size throughout the group though none of them posses blazing speed.
This team has some senior leadership and talent, but they lack experienced depth. This group is going to grow throughout the season and will benefit from a softer schedule.
As far as the Special teams goes. They will be anchored by kicker Chris Blewitt, who is in the second season with Pitt. Chris was effective last season regardless how bad that name sounds. The Punter will be Freshman Ryan Winslow. If for some reason he struggles, they will defer to Blewitt. Standout Tyler Boyd will be running back punts and kicks and is a threat to break it at any point.
I will be doing a breakdown of this years schedule and an overall prediction later this week.