Defense Shines in Pitt Spring Game

Only TD on Dane Jackson INT

Josh Rowntree
April 14, 2018 - 6:46 pm

93.7 the Fan

As Pitt’s Spring game progressed Saturday at Heinz Field, one thing became increasingly clear. It was a day for the defense.

In front of 8,089 sun-soaked fans at Heinz Field, the Panthers’ blue team topped the gold squad thanks to a late interception by senior cornerback Dane Jackson.

Jackson’s 60-yard return was the only touchdown on the day, as the blue team prevailed 10-3.

“I’m cautious saying anything because we’ll find out in September.” coach Pat Narduzzi said of his defense. “You don’t win a championship in the middle of April. I think we’ve got depth. Are we a championship caliber defense yet? I don’t know, we’ll find out.”

Despite losing, the gold team’s defense allowed just 22 total yards to a blue team offense led by quarterback Ricky Town. The blue team let up 172 yards, including 140 through the air to expected Pitt starter Kenny Pickett.

"I think our defense is really going to surprise a lot of people this year,” Pickett said. “They’re fast and (defensive) backs is our strength, along with the linebackers. Going against those guys every day in practice has definitely gotten me better.”

Neither quarterback had much time to throw and, despite not being allowed to be hit in the Spring game, were sacked often.

“They’ve been doing it all Spring,” defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said. “Obviously, we have almost everybody back from a year ago, a year where we didn’t get the amount of sack that we’re on. You can’t predict the Fall, but I certainly like the trend that we’re on.”

The Panthers have lost some talent in the secondary, including safety Jordan Whitehead and corner Avonte Maddox, who will likely both be drafted. The front, however, appears to have more depth than at any other point in Narduzzi’s time in Pittsburgh.

“I’m just really happy with the defense, where we’re heading,” said senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis. “There always is a ton to improve on and a ton to work on. We really want our defense to do well and shine, and that’s what happened today. It’s really reassuring to see that outcome.”