With a 3-0 start, and the Pittsburgh Panthers ranked in several statistical categories, it all seems an impressive start. Still, the coaching staff has quickly put the win over Florida International behind them, looking ahead to this week's game with Iowa.
For defensive coordinator Matt House, he says there's a lot of things that makes Iowa a tough matchup. Iowa has earned the reputation of being a tough, grind-it-out style of team. However, House cautions the use of their tight ends, and the way they use the playaction pass--something he saw a lot of with Florida International.
"We certainly have to do a better job of playing double-moves," House said. "Off that zone scheme, (Iowa) has a lot of playaction passes. The tight end is highlighted. They get into certain formations where they work with the tight ends. That's a big part of their offense, forever. It fits to what they do in the run game."
Running backs coach John Settle has to be pleased with the start James Conner has had to his season. The sophomore ranks fourth in the nation, averaging 181.3 yards a game. However, Settle's focus with Conner this week, is maybe getting him to settle down a bit. Though Conner's two fumbles on Saturday didn't cost him from having a big game, Settle wants him to take even better care of the ball. Also, against a very tough Iowa run defense--something Settle sounds well-versed in, going back to a number of encounters with the Hawkeyes when he was at Wisconsin.
"He had the ball in one arm," Settle said. "I know he's strong, but three (defenders) against one, not very good odds. I'm never going to take away his aggressiveness. But, if he's going to do it, he's going to have to do it with two hands on the ball.
"We're playing Iowa, who's giving up 65 yards a game rushing. They have two big defensive tackles. They're always big inside. They have two ends that can set the edge, and linebackers that can go sideline to sideline. They're sound. They're going to make you, make them block you. They're country strong. These guys are solid. I haven't seen them change."
Aside from that Conner has developed a name nationally because of his rushing totals. Asked if he's had to talk Conner through that, on how to divert the attention, Settle issued the following:
"When he's not around us, it may have a problem going to his head," Settle said. "When he's around the coaches, he does a good job bringing it back here."
Settle is well-versed with Iowa. So is defensive backs coach Troy Douglas, who coached against Iowa every year while he was on the staff at Iowa State. Douglas also coached against the Hawkeyes in stops at Indiana and Michigan State.
"It's typical Iowa," Douglas said. "I was happy to see the school I just came from, 'CPR' (Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads) got it done (last week). I know they're happy in Ames. It's fun to play a team like this."
Iowa does have that physical approach to the game--similar to what we've seen from Pitt this year. Douglas cautions that they're still an offense that will take chances going down the field, something he is getting his group prepared for this week.
"They'll try to take the top off the defense," Douglas added. "What you worry about is cheating too much off the run. The secondary guys have to play the run. What you worry about is sucking up too hard in the playaction pass, and throwing it over your head. That's what they do."