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Pitt coach Chryst shifts defensive duties

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Pitt defensive backs coach Troy Douglas

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
 

Changes to Pitt's defensive coaching staff stop short of a total shakeup but follow a season in which the Panthers finished last in the ACC in interceptions.

Recently hired Troy Douglas will oversee the secondary, with help from graduate assistant Hank Poteat, and said there will be consequences when defensive backs drop the football.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Matt House, who coached safeties last season, will lead the inside linebackers. That will allow Chris Haering to become Chryst's first special teams coordinator and coach outside linebackers. John Palermo will focus on ends.

Douglas, who spent the past two seasons of his 26-year coaching career at Iowa State, fills the vacancy on staff created when Chryst did not retain player personnel director Desmond Robinson.

Pitt, which must replace departing senior cornerback K'Waun Williams and safety Jason Hendricks, is hoping for more big plays on defense after intercepting eight passes last season — only 16 FBS teams had fewer.

“Interceptions, that's what gets the pretty girls,” Douglas said. “Our job as a defense is to get the ball back to our offense. We will attack the football. There is no such thing as a defensive back who can't catch.”

Douglas' resume includes stops at 10 schools, including North Carolina where the Tar Heels intercepted 38 passes in the 2009 and '10 seasons. He has sent 16 players to the NFL, including safety Mistral Raymond, who came to South Florida as a walk-on and became a sixth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.

House met Douglas when they were on the Michigan State staff in 2001 and '02.

Douglas said he likes the look of his new defensive backs, noting Pitt has “young cornerbacks who are long ... which is a lot different than what I had at Iowa State. Paul (Rhoads, Iowa State coach) used to take those kids who looked like they were on the boat ride in Disney World.”

A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Douglas may assume recruiting duties in Florida. He also has recruited Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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