News: The Pittsburgh defense allowed 224 rushing yards and surrendered 24 first half points in the blowout loss to Ole Miss in the Compass Bowl on Saturday.
Analysis: The Panthers forced two interceptions, but they had trouble stopping the Ole Miss running attack which averaged 4.6 yards per carry. This was in stark contrast to how Pittsburgh finished the season.
News: The Pittsburgh defense allowed just 115 yards and a fourth-quarter field goal Saturday against South Florida.
Analysis: The Panther defense has had a second half resurgence and allowed the team to become bowl-eligible. Quite an amazing turnaround from a team that couldn't tackle Youngstown State in September. The Panthers also forced four turnovers.
News: The Pittsburgh defense dominated Rutgers on Saturday. Other than a third quarter touchdown, Rutgers only managed 207 totals yards and 50 yards on the ground.
Analysis: The Panthers and Scarlet Knights traded punts in the first quarter, but the Panthers offense came alive in the second quarter. Pitt only allowed 2.4 yards per carry and picked off Gary Nova once. It was an excellent performance for the inconsistent Panther defense.
News: The Panther defense allowed three long drives to Connecticut in the first half, but shut the Huskies out in the second half.
Analysis: The second half shutdown wasn't enough to help the Panthers win the game, but it was encouraging to see. The fact that UConn had so much success against the Panthers in the first half was one of the bigger surprises in recent Big East play.
Pittsburgh Defense Bends, Doesn't Break, Then Breaks
News: The Pittsburgh defense corralled the Notre Dame offense for three quarters, then allowed 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Analysis: The Panther defense forced three turnovers and kept the team in the game while the offense went cold. The Irish had long drives in the first half that resulted in two field goals as the Pitt defense stiffened. Notre Dame finally finished the game with a touchdown if the third overtime.
News: The Panther defense allowed 17 points and 324 yards in the blowout win over Temple on Saturday.
Analysis: The Owl rushing attack can be dangerous and they only ran for 129 yards on 40 carries. The Panther defense which had been porous earlier in the season has stiffened and the Panthers could head to a bowl yet.
News: The Pitt defense played bend but not break on Saturday against Buffalo. They allowed 334 yards, but only two second quarter field goals in the win.
Analysis: The Bulls ran for 169 yards and defending the ground has been an issue for the Panthers at time this season. The defensive front can be pushed around. They did have one interception.
News: Pitt's defense, which had been stingy against Syracuse last week, allowed 45 points to Louisville. The Panthers did block a punt and recover the ball in the end zone.
Analysis: The Cardinals were able to get some big plays against the Panthers and Teddy Bridgewater threw for 304 yards. Whenever Louisville got in the redzone, they scored a touchdown.
News: The Pitt defense, which slowed down Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib last week, will be tested again vs. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater in Week 7, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: While Bridgewater has been impressive for the Cardinals (and has only been stopped by a torrential downpour this season), it is the Louisville ground attack that should present problems for the Panthers. The Pitt revival will be tested.
News: The Panther defense limited Virginia Tech to 17 points on Saturday. Seven of the points came on a punt return. The Panthers also recovered a fumble and had three interceptions.
Analysis: Everything went right for the Panthers on Saturday. Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas may some unfortunate throws and Pitt was opportunistic. After allowing 463 rushing yards in the first two games, the Pitt defense stiffened for just 59 yards against the Hokies.
News: The Pitt defense allowed 210 rushing yards against Youngstown State on Saturday. The Penguins had 387 yards, 31 points, and no turnovers.
Analysis: The Panthers couldn't get stops when they needed them and dropped their home opener to a FCS school. Things won't get easier on Thursday against Cincinnati, but pretty much anything is better than what the Panthers exhibited against Youngstown State.
News: The last time a Big East contender went from the 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 was in 2009, when Cincinnati made the switch. Pittsburgh makes the switch this season, and the hope for the Panthers is that they can emulate what the Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to do.
Analysis: Pitt will look to attack a lot more this season out of the new scheme, but it will be key to see if a player like defensive end Brandon Lindsey (10 sacks in 2010) adjusts to the move.
News: Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham noted on Monday's Big East Coaches Teleconference that senior linebacker Dan Mason will miss the opener against Buffalo due to a knee injury. Mason is looking to come back from the horrific injury suffered in the Panthers' loss to Miami last season.
Analysis: Given the nature of the injury Mason's recovery may have been going at a quicker rate than expected. But he still has some work to do in that area, meaning he will need to miss the opener. Pitt was prepared for this.
News: Unlike the conservative scheme that was run in the Dave Wannstedt years, the defense under first-year head coach Todd Graham will take more chances. Just like the new offense, the defense like to play fast and challenge the opposition.
Analysis: Taking more chances on defense can have one of two consequences: more turnovers forced or more points allowed. Pitt may need another year or two to recruit the number of athletes needed for this attacking scheme, so the true benefits may not be seen until then.
News: While his knee has strengthened, linebacker Dan Mason is still a question mark with regards to a possible return. Mason, who suffered a horrific injury to his right knee in the loss to Miami last September, is convinced that he will be back at some point.
Analysis: Getting Mason back at some point would definitely strengthen the Panthers defensively, but at this point the focus is on getting he back to full health.The bigger concern for Pitt may be finding defensive end depth to go along with Brandon Lindsey as Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard both moved on to the next level.
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced one turnover an interception and recorded two sacks.
Analysis: The Pittsburgh defense held South Florida to just 10 points in route to a 17 10 victory. Unfortunately, the Panthers didn't force enough turnovers to have a solid fantasy day.
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced two turnovers a fumble and an interception and recorded three sacks.
Analysis: The Pittsburgh defense held Louisville to just three points in route to a 20 3 victory. Pittsburgh fell behind 3 0 in the first quarter, but then the defense stepped up and didn't allow another point for the remainer of the game
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced four turnovers two fumbles and two interceptions and recorded one sack.
Analysis: The Pittsburgh defense played surprisingly well on Saturday as they had a big role in stopping Syracuse's three game winning streak. They'll look to duplicate the effort next week against Rutgers.
News: The Pittsburgh defense was unable to force a turnover, but did record three sacks.
Analysis: They played better in the second half, but it wasn't enough as Notre Dame hung on for the win. Pittsburgh will take on Syracuse next week.
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced one turnover a fumble and recorded two sacks.
Analysis: They played well enough to win, but the Panthers will need to improve as they take a step up in class against Notre Dame next week.
News:Analysis: Pittsburgh allowed 31 points while totaling two sacks and two interceptions against Miami (FL) Thursday. The team has been a massive disappointment so far, but they're not a bad start against Florida International.
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced one turnover an interception but did record six sacks.
Analysis: They played well enough to win, but the Panthers still have some room for improvement as the season wears on.
News: The Pittsburgh defense forced three turnovers two fumbles and an interception but allowed Utah to score 27 points on Thursday.
Analysis: Allowing 405 yards of total offense to start the season was not part of the plan, but they should rebound next week against New Hampshire.
Pittsburgh DE Romeus (Undisclosed) Limited in Practice
News: Defensive end Greg Romeus (undisclosed) was a limited participant in Thursday's practice, ESPN reports.
Analysis: Romeus is dealing with a muscle spasm that Pittsburgh won't directly identify. If he's limited heading into the season, push Pittsburgh's defense below Rutgers and West Virginia in the Big East.
Pittsburgh DE Romeus (Undisclosed) Missing Practice
News: Defensive end Greg Romeus (undisclosed) hasn't practiced for four days, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: The Pitt defense had a scare at defensive end earlier this summer when Jabaal Sheard pummeled some guy and threw him through an art gallery window, and now this has to be a bit of a concern. It's odd that the team won't disclose what sort of "soreness and stiffness" Romeus is dealing with, but this is something to keep a close eye on as Pittsburgh's defense will be hurt badly if Romeus misses time or is limited by the injury.
News: Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard will not miss any time this year despite his recent assault arrest, ESPN reports.
Analysis: This is very big news for Pittsburgh, as Sheard and teammate Greg Romeus form arguably the best defensive end tandem in the country. Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers all look like good fantasy defenses this year in the Big East.
News: Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard has been suspended indefinitely after allegedly throwing a man through a glass door at an art gallery, ESPN reports.
Analysis: This could significantly hurt the Panthers defense if Sheard misses time. He's been a steady disruptive force against the run the past two years, totaling 21 tackles for loss in the span.
News: Pitt allowed just ten points and intercepted three passes Saturday against Syracuse.
Analysis: Pitt held Syracuse to 3-of-13 on third down as well. The Panthers host Notre Dame on Saturday night.
News: Pitt intercepted three passes and held South Florida to 14 points on Saturday.
Analysis: The Bulls tacked on a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the game to double their point total when the game was already decided well before. The Panthers have a bye this week.
News: The Panther defense was rather stout Saturday against UConn, allowing just 14 points.
Analysis: UConn threw for 197 yards and rushed for another 106 against the Pitt 'D.' The Panthers play Rutgers on Friday evening.