PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 01: Maurice Ffrench #2 of the Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates with teammates after returning a kickoff for a 91 yard touchdown in the first quarter during the game against the Albany Great Danes at Heinz Field on September 1, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Strategy against Pittsburgh:
In my mind, the strategy against Pittsburgh is quite easy for the 2018 season. Shut down their run game to the best of your ability, get them in a hole on the scoreboard and force them to throw the ball. For the first time in a few years, the Panthers have a questionable receiving corp, and it honestly presents very little ACC level caliber weapons.
To a point, you have to surrender in the idea that the defense can shut down the run game completely. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is strong in he run game and will give holes for their running backs. Last week, the Panthers put over 200 rushing yards on the Penn State defense in the first half but Penn State was able to adapt in the second half and completely shut down Pittsburgh offensively. Now, Georgia Tech doesn’t have the talent that Penn State has but they still should be able to defend both the run and pass against the Panthers.
The other good news with the Panthers is that they have a tendency to beat themselves. They will turnover the ball if you give them enough time and their special teams is nothing more than decent. If the Georgia Tech defense struggles on Saturday against Pittsburgh than there will be and should be a lot of questions regarding the defense going forward.
Overall, I expect Nate Woody to employ a highly aggressive defense against the Panthers that will look to shut down the run in the backfield and force Pickett to make bad throws when it does come to passing situations. This could be a game where we get to see the early fruit of Woody’s aggressive tendencies and a proper look at Georgia Tech’s new look and ever evolving defense.