Rob Ferguson

2-MINUTE READ: Pitt's return defense gets A+

PM's weekly two-minute read looks at the Panthers' kick and punt coverage.

Pitt's kick return and punt return units have been outstanding this season.

For the past handful of years, Pitt has touted itself as one of the nation's youngest teams. That is not the case this season, as over 60 of the players on Pitt's roster are at least in their third year.

This has allowed for Pitt to maintain a veteran coverage team led by the likes of redshirt sophomore George Aston, redshirt senior Reggie Mitchell, redshirt senior Bam Bradley, senior Scott Orndoff, junior Quintin Wirginis and redshirt junior Rachid Ibrahim.

Pitt has smothered its opponents in punt coverage. The Panthers are limiting returners to 4.19 yards per return (17th nationally). This past weekend in Chapel Hill, Pitt held North Carolina's superstar Ryan Switzer to 15 yards between two returns.

The Panthers have also kept opposing return men shy of the 20. Pitt is 30th nationally in kickoff return defense (19.23 yards per return).

No team has scored a special teams touchdown against Pitt this season.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said the success has sprung from the idea that his players just understand what they're doing.

"I’ve seen some bad kickoff coverages and some bad punt coverages through my years," Narduzzi said. "I really like what we do and how we do it and how coach Powell coaches it.

"At places I’ve been at in the past, we’ve spent twice the amount of time working on coverage. We’ve spent less time and get more going here because of what we do and how we’re doing it. I think that’s a tribute to coach Powell and his style and our kids understanding it," he added.

Panther Digest Top Stories