PITTSBURGH — Redshirt sophomore Jaylen Twyman is Pitt’s main man upfront on defense, with Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp both out for the season with ACL injuries.
Twyman has accounted for 4.5 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss in Pitt’s first three games. He has seen a number of different schemes and double teams thrown his way. But he understands his increased role and what his impact means to the Panthers defense as a whole.
“They are putting a lot of trust in me, I’m taking it one play at a time, for the things that they ask me to do,” Twyman said on Tuesday.
While Twyman has taken on more responsibilities with pass rushing, he was seen last Saturday dropping back in coverage against Penn State. He said that being flexible in the number of things that he can do, can help not only the defensive unit as a whole, but for himself and his confidence.
“It helps me because it gives me a chance to make a play,” Twyman said. “The offense doesn’t really know where I’m going to be.”
Jalen Twyman is a name to keep an eye on. R-SO for Pitt with 5 sacks in the 2 games he’s played in. Powerful guy, plays with good pad level. Easy win here as he wins with the swim move. pic.twitter.com/pfMQFNmqM8
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) September 15, 2019
But he still knows where his impact is needed most for the Panthers’ defense.
“I like to get after the quarterback and make plays,” said Twyman. “I’ll help the team wherever, but dropping into coverage isn’t my thing. I’m 280 pounds, I don’t need to be dropping into coverage.”
This week, the Pitt defensive line will face a different challenge with UCF’s up-tempo offense. UCF averages 97 plays per game, while Pitt’s been facing an average of only 72 this season, so far.
“Handling the rotations and handling their tempo,” Twyman said. “We are going to have to make plays behind the line of scrimmage so we can slow them down.”
The Pitt defense has yet to force a turnover this season. Twyman let it be known that the coaching staff and the players are well aware that they need to keep emphasize the turnover battle.
“We need to practice how we play,” said Twyman. “We have a turnover circuit [in practice], where we are punching out balls and stripping them … We have been really big on turnovers.”
Twyman will have to continue to up his improvements this Saturday against UCF, which has averaged 51.7 points per game this season.