Defense looking up at Pitt
Safety Andrew Taglianetti said Pitt's recent defensive success has nothing to do with players finally buying into a new system.
That happened long ago.
“From day one, when (defensive coordinator Dave) Huxtable and Coach (Paul) Chryst stepped in here, we trusted this defense,” Taglianetti said. “We know it can work.”
Entering this week's bye, Pitt has yielded 451 total yards in its past two games while allowing no sustained scoring drives. The Panthers have surrendered three touchdowns in that span: punt and fumble returns and an 85-yard pass-and-run.
“Good things happen when you are where you are supposed to be, doing your job,” Huxtable said.
Huxtable made a few personnel changes, using Bryan Murphy and Devin Cook at one end position and inserting fifth-year senior Manny Williams at outside linebacker. Meanwhile, the team withstood the loss of tackle Aaron Donald (knee), thanks to freshman Darryl Render stepping in last weekend against Gardner-Webb and recording 1 1⁄2 tackles for a loss.
Even with the new faces — none of whom played last season — on-field communication improved.
“It's not that we weren't communicating the first couple games, but everyone was really paying attention to what was going on (in the past two),” Taglianetti said. “You could see we played fast, we played smart, and we were always in the right position.”
Taglianetti, a fifth-year senior, has witnessed much of the defensive rebirth from the bench. Jarred Holley and Jason Hendricks moved into starting lineup after the opener and have recorded all four of Pitt's interceptions (three by Hendricks). Taglianetti is part of the passing-down defense, replacing freshman Jahmahl Pardner (knee).
“It's no biggie,” Taglianetti said of his reserve role. “Coming into camp, I knew there were going to be two safeties who weren't going to play that much.
“Do I wish I was out there? Yeah, but it's nothing I'm going to dwell on. I am still going to try to (excel) on special teams.”
And perhaps make history.
Taglianetti holds the Pitt record for punt blocks (six), four short of the national mark set by Central Michigan's James King (2001-04).
“I try to be quiet about it,” he said, smiling, “and I subtly try to tell coach (Chris) Haering, who does our punt blocks, to really go after it.”
Taglianetti was close against Gardner-Webb but held back to avoid a roughing penalty. In the BBVA Compass Bowl last season, SMU punter Matt Stone kicked him in the head and then flopped, drawing a penalty on Taglianetti.
“I'm starting to sniff the ball,” he said, “so it's coming.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt football notebook: ‘No. 1 safety’ Mitchell asked to step up
- Top 30 guard shooting Heron decommits from Pitt
- Stakes raised for Pitt spring game
- Pitt’s Johnson leaves men’s basketball team
- Unlike his predecessor, Pitt’s Chaney unafraid to push QB Voytik
- SSA grad Briggs finds home on Pitt defense after 2 years at RB
- Nice meal on line in Pitt spring game
- Defense shines in Pitt football spring game
- Pitt senior Kiesel selected by WNBA’s Tulsa Shock
- Firm compiling list of candidates for Pitt AD position
- Ex-Woodland Hills standout making impression at safety for Pitt