Pitt Looking to Repeat Last Year's Success

The Panthers look to make a statement in every game, but this week for them is all about establishing themselves in the ACC. Savage and Hendricks are prepared to send a message on Saturday to show that this Pitt team has arrived.

The Pitt defense so far this season went from giving up 55 total points against Duke to the following week against Virginia when they only let up just three. This defense is past shaking off the Duke game and are confident after their last performance against Virginia that it was no fluke.

Redshirt senior defensive back Jason Hendricks is not making excuses for the Duke game nor is he passing the blame onto their new defensive coordinator Matt House or any of the other players on defense. Hendricks along with the rest of the defense has moved past the Duke performance and is focused on their next top 25 opponent of Virginia Tech.

"Sometimes when you play different teams, you see way more looks than your use to, and you get exposed sometimes" said Hendricks.

Pitt played Virginia Tech last season, a game where the script was flipped and Hendricks found a way to expose their offense. Hendricks had success against the Hokies last season with a career-high of two interceptions.

Hendricks will once again face Virginia Tech redshirt senior quarterback Logan Thomas. The key to repeating last years success is to place pressure on Thomas and force those early throws. The defensive line took care of it last year, and Hendricks is confident he can repeat his performance if the pressure is on.

"We need to play sound defense," said Hendricks. "All of us need to make sure we're reading our keys and playing Pitt football."

While Hendricks will be focused on forcing turnovers, redshirt senior quarterback Tom Savage will need to focus on not giving in too early from Virginia Tech's defensive pressure.

However, it will be no easy task for the Panthers signal caller, especially with the Hokies ranking nationally at No. 1 this season for pass interceptions. This defense is the real deal, already totaling 13 interceptions for 91 yards, which is equal to the amount of interceptions they had all of last season.

Even Savage can see why this defense is known for forcing turnovers. "They have a couple guys here and there, and well there secondary is a bunch of good athletes." Savage doesn't get too specific, but one of the players he's most likely referring to is cornerback Brandon Facyson, who already has four interceptions this season. One player he does mention is cornerback Kyle Fuller, two interceptions.

Savage is confident he can avoid the interceptions like he did against Duke even though he has turned the ball over a total of six times in the the other three games against Florida State, New Mexico and Virginia. And while Savage is cleared to play since exiting the Virginia game early with a concussion scare, Savage can't afford another seven sacks against an even tougher ACC opponent.

Savage, however, is not concerned with the past statistics of either team come this Saturday. "The biggest measuring stick when comparing myself to any ACC player is who gets the win," said Savage. "Obviously, Virginia Tech is ranked No. 24 and is one of the best teams in the ACC. But this is our time to make our place in the ACC and show everyone that we are here ."

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