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Where Does the Pitt Defense Stand Ahead of Louisville?



Pitt defensive back MJ Devonshire waves a towel before facing Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.)

Pat Narduzzi put the Steelers game on in his office last Sunday, but he was on the move so much that he wasn’t able to really follow what was going on.

It wasn’t a very good showing from Kenny Pickett and the offense, aside from the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, of course, but the Steelers defense — as it has done in wins this season — was stifling.

Narduzzi has watched the Steelers defense play well — at times — this season, and he wants to see a championship-level performance from his own squad.

“Like I said, the Pittsburgh Steelers, they win championships with defense, right?” Narduzzi said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I watch what they do. I see some highlights. After a staff meeting yesterday, I walked in just as Pickens, the last ten yards of that big pass, I didn’t know what happened. I had it on in my office, but I was never in my office. I had it on CBS or ABC, whatever it was. I put it on when I got into the office.

“We’ve got to play championship defense. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to make more plays. We missed a lot of tackles last week. We’ve been solid, but not where we need to be. We need to get off the field and give the ball back to our offense, and our offense needs to sustain drives and not go three and out, put the defense in bad spots with the turnovers.”

The Pitt defense hasn’t been as influential this season, but it hasn’t been bad either. With 16 sacks, Pitt is fourth in the ACC (with one less game played), but the defense hasn’t forced many turnovers — just one interception.

Pitt needs to force turnovers, especially on the backend, and the talent is there. It just needs to translate on the field, and it will be a tough matchup against No. 14 Louisville tonight.

Scoring defense: 26 points per game (10th)

Total defense: 301.6 yards per game (4th)

Passing defense: 173.2 yards per game (3rd)

Rushing defense: 128.4 yards per game (7th)

Sacks: 16 (4th)

Interceptions: 1 (14th)

Third down defense: 35.8% (7th)

Fourth down defense: 66.7% (13th)

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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