2013 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

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Nov. 3, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly talks to his players in overtime against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 29-26 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Defense

Last season the Panther’s defense performed well, allowing only 21.1 points per game finishing 17th nationally in total defense. In 2013 the Panthers will once again follow the lead of their defensive line. Three of four starters return up front including potential All-American DT Aaron Donald. DE Bryan Murphy (27 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 2 sacks) and DT Tyrone Ezell (39 tackles, 7 for loss, 3.5 sacks), a mammoth 300lb clog, should book end Donald nicely, while sophomore Devon Cook slides into the starting end position vacated by the graduation of Shane Hale.

At linebacker Pitt was looking strong again with the potential return of 3 starters until the arrest and dismissal of LB Eric Williams. But the Panthers still return 2012 starters Todd Thomas and Shane Gordon. Thomas will anchor the weak side while Gordon looks to cap a solid career at the middle linebacker position. Nichiolas Grisby, a redshirt freshman, and Anthony Gonzalez, a converted safety, will fight for time at the weakside linebacker position.

Last season the secondary performed so well that their coach Matt House was promoted to defensive coordinator. House undoubtedly felt confident enough to leave a unit that finished 20th in the nation in pass defense, intercepted 15 passes and returned three starters. Jason Hendricks, last season’s leading tackler and All-Big East selection, will anchor the secondary from his safety position while K’Waun Williams (47 tackles, 4 INT) and rising star Lafayette Pitts (35 tackles) return at the defensive back positions. Pitt’s secondary will cause problems for most of the teams they face.

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Topics: Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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