Since the beginning of the 2019 season, no team in college football has recorded more sacks than Pitt. It’s not even close in fact.
With 196 sacks since 2019, 26 more than second-place Clemson and 30 more than third-place Alabama, Charlie Partridge’s defensive lines get after opposing quarterbacks.
It helps when Partridge is willing to reward good behavior, or three sacks, with a promise: jumping into the three rivers.
“This started a few years ago during one of our games, the guys started to have success getting sacks, and they started to put a wager on it,” Patridge said. “And they said, ‘If we get X number of sacks this game, coach, what will you do?’ My first thing I thought of was, I’ll jump in the river. So, they were all over it.”
Calijah Kancey and Dayon Hayes recorded three-sack games in 2022, on the way to finishing second in college football with 48 team sacks. And Pitt’s defensive line once again paced the nation.
Partridge, for his efforts, was named as FootballScoop’s 2022 Defensive Line Coach of the Year.
— FootballScoop (@FootballScoop) January 6, 2023
Partridge won the award, which is selected based on nominations from coaches, athletic director and athletic department personnel, over finalists in Liberty’s Jeremy Garrett, JMU’s Pat Kuntz, Penn State’s John Scott Jr. and South Alabama’s Landius Wilkerson.
Pitt’s defense racked 48 sacks (second in college football) and 90 tackles for loss (21st), and the unit allowed just 98.9 rush yards per game (eighth) and 327.9 yards per game (22nd).
And Pitt did it all as the defensive line was ravaged by injuries all season. Kancey, Hayes, Haba Baldonado, Deslin Alexandre and Nate Temple all missed time this season. Pitt’s defensive line depth, of which Partridge has mainly recruited over the last few seasons, was on full display.
Kancey became Pitt’s first unanimous All-American in 2022, the first Panther to earn the distinction since Aaron Donald in 2013.
The losses on the defensive line in 2023 will be heavy, as a number of players will be testing the NFL Draft waters, but it’s just another chance for Partridge to show that the defensive line doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.
Partridge was also named the FootballScoop 2020 Defensive Line Coach of the Year.