Pitt had a monster year on defense in 2019. Prior to this season, the Pitt defense had been relatively mediocre, sitting in the median of Defensive Efficiency. 2019 would see the Panthers tie for the first in sacks per game (SMU/3.92) and tied for seventh overall in tackles for loss (TFLs) per game with 7.9. Pitt would even finish in the top-25 in 3rd Down efficiency (23rd) at 33% efficiency. Until 2019, Pitt’s highwater mark for DEff had been 58th (2017).
2019’s defense was Narduzzi’s best since his arrival in Pittsburgh in 2015. Pitt would do all this with only one draft pick, CB Dane Jackson (7th Round), and four All-ACC 1st or 2nd Teamers. Beginning with his time in East Lansing, Narduzzi has been known for his unique pressure package that features a six-man rush and what is referred to as HOT or EYES coverage. This is a three-deep/two-under concept that has the two under players read the QB and “periph” the WRs they are matching. This gets the underneath players into the lanes.
There are multiple coverage variations to each pressure/blitz. Most people are familiar with Fire Coverage (3u/3d), but Narduzzi can also tag his pressures with SQUAT (Trap 2) or CAT (man). This allows him to change to presentation for the QB or play different coverages to match the routes he is getting. This article will focus on a Safety blitz used multiple times in Pitt’s game versus UCF. When Narduzzi likes a pressure he will run it until the offense stops it. This was no different versus the Golden Knights.
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