As we continue to prepare for Georgia Tech football’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers this upcoming weekend, we check out the defenses and how they compare to each other.
Entering the season, the one place everyone knew the Pittsburgh Panthers would be very strong at is their defense, and not just part of their defense, the entirety of their defense. The Pittsburgh defense has mostly lived up to expectations as the stats how. The Panthers are allowing 23.0 points per game which ranks top-30 in the country and they’re allowing just under 300 total yards per game this season as well. Opponents are having an easier time passing on their defense averaging 217 yards per contest but have barely been able to run on them, averaging just 78.8 yards per game and an average of 2.2 yards per carry.
Now, let’s take a look at how each of the position groups stacks up against each other.
Defensive Line: EDGE – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh gets the massive edge when it comes to defensive lines as it is one spot that has certainly lived up to expectations for the Panthers this season. The Panthers as a team have 38 sacks on the season, eight more than anyone else with Clemson the second closest at 30. Seniors Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver have been dominant for the Panthers this season especially Jones who has 8.0 sacks already on the season. Weaver, on the other hand, has a considerably strong 5.5 sacks.
The Yellow Jackets defensive line hasn’t nearly had anywhere near to even half of the success the Panthers have had as they have just 13 sacks this season. This one is honestly not close at all as the Pittsburgh defensive line is by far one of the best, if not the best defensive line in the entire country.
Linebacker: EDGE – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh gets the edge once again at linebacker as they’re linebackers are strong in almost all facets of the game. They can rush the quarterback, they can drop back into pass coverage, they can play the run, they can simply do it all and it’s why the Pittsburgh defense has been very good this season.
Their linebackers are led by another senior in Phil Campbell who has 32 tackles this season including 8.5 tackles for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. Their other two starters at the position Cam Bright and Chase Pine have also been strong this season totaling 31 tackles (3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks) and 29 tackles (5.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks) respectively. An athletic group, Pitt’s linebackers are good at securing the second level of the defense and play a strong role in their success in stopping the run.
Cornerbacks: EDGE – Pittsburgh
Once again, it’s Pittsburgh giving them a clean sweep on defense. This one was once again fairly easy as the Panthers as a team allow just 217 yards per game through the air and that’s even with teams often forced to throw the ball heavily because of the lack of success on the ground. Comparatively, the Yellow Jackets are allowing opposing teams to throw the ball for 268.9 yards per game this season.
The Panthers secondary has taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks as senior safety Paris Ford opted out for the remainder of the 2020 season. Ford this year was by far their best player in the secondary, totaling 41 tackles including three tackles for a loss as well as three interceptions on the season.
The Panthers, however, do still have plenty of secondary support outside of Ford which includes senior cornerback Damar Hamlin who has two interceptions on the season as well as 45 tackles tackles including 3.5 tackles for a loss. Sophomore Marquis Williams has also played extremely well with two interceptions on the season. He doesn’t have the tackle output as others with just 19 tackles but he’s still a quality cornerback for the Panthers.
Overall, as a team, Pittsburgh’s defense has 10 interceptions on the season and 24 pass deflections. Their 10 interceptions rank top 10 in the country.
Overall as a defense, the Pittsburgh defense is one of the best in the country and will be a tough one for Georgia Tech’s offense to have success against considering the Jackets are mistake-prone and have struggled pass blocking recently. Dave Patenuade and the Jackets offense will need to come up with a high quality plan if they hope to have any type of success offensively this weekend.