After the first six games of the season, Pitt ranks second out of 130 FBS teams in team sacks (27.0). The only team ahead of them is Ohio State (28.0), who is arguably the best team in the country right now.
When Pitt’s top two pass rushers (Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp) went down with season-ending knee injuries, it seemed as if the defense would have some struggles in attempting to totally make up for those key losses.
However, the defense never really had issues. The defensive line alone, has 19 of the teams 27 sacks. That number ranks them No. 13 in the country.
Pitt currently has five players in the top 20 in the ACC in sacks. Jaylen Twyman (6), Kylan Johnson (4), Patrick Jones II (4), Deslin Alexandre (3.5), and Habakkuk Baldonado (3.5).
Jones II was the recent star of the group. In Pitt’s 33-30 win against Duke on Saturday, Jones II had two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a career-high six tackles. Jones II was named ACC defensive lineman of the week on Monday.
Pitt ranks No. 9 in the country in yards per play, No. 10 in yards per throw, and No. 11 in opponent passer rating. The safeties and corners are starting to show off just how athletic and talented of a group they are as well.
With a ton of talk about this defensive unit not getting those crucial turnovers, they once again silenced the critics by forcing six total turnovers at Duke.
These numbers were against a Duke team that had only given up one sack all season. Pitt forced two fumbles and had three total sacks (Jones II (2) and Amir Watts (1).
Damar Hamlin said heading into the Duke game that this was the best defense that he’s been around in his four years at Pitt. That statement seems to become more evident each and every game.
At all times, it seems as if any of the 11 guys out there are capable of making an impactful play for this Panther defense.