As Pitt’s football team gets a few practices under its belt in training camp, there’s been a little more focus on some individual positions.
This week, head coach Pat Narduzzi addressed one of the problem areas for the Panthers - the secondary.
Pitt’s secondary, putting it mildly, has not been real good the last couple of seasons. The unit has been repeatedly burned for big yardage plays and finished near the bottom of the FBS each year. Now, to be fair, the pass defense did improve last year as the season went along. The Panthers did not allow a 250-yard passer in the last four games and did not allow a 300-yard passer in the final six contests.
However, the secondary is also rebuilding a bit with the losses of starters Avonte Maddox and Jordan Whitehead, both of whom are now in the NFL. But Narduzzi has high praise for safety Damar Hamlin, who he called his top guy.
“I think we’ve got some quality depth back there. There is going to be a [positional] war back there,” Narduzzi said. “Right now, Damar Hamlin is playing at a high level. If I had to pick my number one guy, Damar Hamlin is playing at a high level right now, playing fast and doing the little things right.”
And while Narduzzi said freshman Paris Ford has been a little up and down, he’s high on him as well in his move to cornerback.
“He’s doing well,” Narduzzi said. “He was a little up and down during that typical summer coaching out there that they give themselves, which may be non-existent. To the second day, he really progressed. He was back to normal, back to where he was when he came out to spring ball, so we got him readjusted and refocused on the details. He was really good yesterday and had a great pick yesterday in a drill. We expect great things out of him. He is doing well.”
Obviously, Pitt is going to need those guys with the loss of half of the secondary. It’s hard to believe that Hamlin is already a junior as his impact to date has been pretty minimal. But he’ll have plenty of time to prove he belongs and, by the sound of things, he’s improving nicely.