Pittsburgh's defensive unit is raked fourth in the country after two games, allowing 175 yards per game, also leading the ACC in that category. All the while producing five interceptions--a good start in that category.
But what's most most refreshing for Pitt defensive coordinator Matt House, is the way the personnel groupings have worked out. For example, the defensive line. In referencing those five interceptions, House says the biggest factor in those five picks is the pressure the unit is getting up front.
"The rush has to match the coverage," House said. "I think we've had good coverage, and the rush has matched the coverage. Tips and overthrows are where a lot of those picks come from."
Specifically, Ray Vinopal's interception against Boston College. It started with the rush, followed by a tip from Anthony Gonzalez, to Vinopal, who was in the right spot for the pick. A complete play, according to House.
"It's been a deal where we've caught the ones that have come to us, and it's been where the rush had matched the coverage," House said.
House has seen some solid play from the starting front four--ends David Durham and Shakir Soto, tackles Khaynin Mosley-Smith and Darryl Render. One of the question marks facing this unit was in the reserves. House says players like Rori Blair and Nicholas Grigsby have stepped into key roles, allowing the front four to be even more productive. Hard to believe James Conner was once considered for a role as a pass rusher, but it hasn't been needed. That, House says, is a combination of what Conner has done for the offense, but also what these other role players have done.
"The (rushing) numbers speak for James," House said. "He's carrying the rock right now, and pounding it."
Blair, though, has worked himself into a role, aside from what Conner has done on offense.
"Rori has done a good job," House said. "Coach (John) Palermo has done a good job, where, he can succeed early. We're not necessarily asking him to play on first and second down. Playing in more passing situations, pass rushing situations, he's done a nice job. He's done a nice job coming off the edge."
Reggie Mitchell has transformed his camp phenom status into being a valuable player in hype Pitt secondary, House added. House says he has to remind himself that Mitchell is still a young player--playing in his first year of eligibility, after sitting out last year as a transfer. Seeing him succeed and contribute this early, isn't a surprise when he takes into effect what Mitchell does off the field.
"That work ethic becomes infectious," House said. "Sometimes we forget he's young, when you watch the time he puts in. He grinds the tape. He's in here on his own, late at night. Him and Ray have teamed up a bunch, and he and (Terrish) Webb, Laf(ayette Pitts), that's when the process really accelerates within your football team.
"I think Coach Chryst has done a good job establishing that as the culture, and it's starting to build steam. I've really noticed not one two, three, four guys, but a bunch of guys buying into that, putting time in. That helps your growth process."