Western Michigan carved Pitt’s vaunted defense up for 508 yards on Saturday, 415 of which came through the air.
As such, the Panthers’ coaching staff pulled some drills out of the bag that they haven’t used much, if at all this season to help their defensive backs prepare for offensive tendencies.
Western Michigan quarterbacks completed 26 of 38 passes against Pitt, good for a 68% completion rate. As such, the Panthers focused early on on breaking downhill to cut off passes as the ball arrived, robbing receivers of the ability to make a play with the ball in their hands, another issue in the game.
They practiced coverage technique as a group, namely backpedaling and turning to run with receivers.
Lastly, they focused on breaking up pick plays, offensive concepts where a receiver interferes with a defensive player to let his teammate run free. Pick plays are a form of offensive pass interference, but it’s rarely called when used naturally through creating traffic or lining receivers up on top of each other.
The Tennessee Volunteers used such plays to great success in the Panthers’ week two game, so it makes sense that it’s been a point of emphasis for the coaches.
Whether or not the specialized drills improve the Panthers’ defensive effort remains to be seen.