As a team, we're all striving to get better," said defensive coordinator Matt House. "Every week, we always want to get a little bit better with every opportunity."
House continually emphasized the fact of how different last week's preparation was in comparison to this week's game plan for Navy. Of course, House didn't exactly lay out the game plan, but he did give some insight on what fans should expect to see verses last week.
Last week House focused on putting more defensive backs onto the field because of the strength and speed of Old Dominion's wide outs. This week, the defense has to worry strictly about assignment football. Instead of focusing on the passing game, Navy will focus on pounding the ball down the middle. The read-option gives the Panthers a different kind of challenge on defense. It will be critical for the defense to play well and within their assignments.
One thing, House didn't make clear is if redshirt junior linebacker Todd Thomas will be used this week against Navy.
"Every time you're playing a game, you put the guys out there that puts them in a position to succeed and for the team to succeed," said House. "We felt going into last week's game and considering all the speed Old Dominion had at the wide out position then we better put some DB's on the field."
While the defensive game plan has changed dramatically since last week, Redshirt senior quarterback Tom Savage said Navy's defense isn't too different. "It's nothing we haven't seen before, but they're going to play us tough," said Savage. Navy plays with a three man front, which means the Pitt offense will have to change their game plan some, especially with protecting Savage.
"It felt like old times being back out there," said Schlieper. "I have close to about 20 starts under my belt, and it just felt good to be out there again.
"Last week was a whole new thing for me because last year I played alongside Ryan Turnley and (now redshirt junior) Matt Rotheram. Then last week it was a whole different thing for me to play with (redshirt freshman) Adam Bisnowaty and (redshirt sophomore) Artie Rowell, but it clicked for me. Bisnowaty is a really good player and Rowell makes every call. They're both smart players and it made the transition much easier."
Schlieper already feels more comfortable after getting one start and is ready for his next. True freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd is also feeling more comfortable with his first six starts already in the books. "With playing at the college level, I feel way more comfortable since the first game," said Boyd. "I'm more relaxed and into playing the game more. My comfort level is also helping me become a better player."
Last week, the Panthers were without their double threat tandem redshirt senior Devin Street and Boyd. Street was sidelined because of an injury and Boyd was on his own. "Old Dominion changed up their whole defense because Street wasn't out there. They normally never run man-to-man so they must have thought we weren't as much of a threat without Street. They played man and focused on me so they didn't have to worry about anything else. It was a huge downfall for us as an offense."
This week, Boyd shouldn't have to worry about being double-teamed with Street back in the mix for tomorrow's game against Navy.
The Panthers will look to advance to 5-2 tomorrow against Navy. The kick off is set for 1 p.m. at Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.