Breaking Down Pitt's Depth Chart Part IV: The Defense

Paul SieversAnalyst ISeptember 2, 2009

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Linebacker Scott McKillop #40 and cornerback Aaron Berry #17 of the Pittsburgh Panthers break up a last-second, end zone pass to wire receiver Dontavia Bogan #81 of the University of South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

I kind of ran out of time with this depth chart project. I'm going to tackle the defense (sadly, the pun was intended) today and the special teams tomorrow.

DE 97 Jabaal Sheard 6-4, 260, Jr.,
46 Shayne Hale 6-4, 250, Fr., RS

DE 91 Greg Romeus 6-6, 270, Jr., RS
35 Brandon Lindsey 6-2, 240, So., RS

DT 93 Gus Mustakas 6-3, 285, Sr., RS
94 Myles Caragein 6-2, 275, So., RS
57 Craig Bokor 6-3, 285, Sr., RS

DT 95 Mick Williams 6-1, 280, Sr., RS
98 Chas Alecxih 6-5, 275, So., RS

OLB 55 Max Gruder 6-2, 230, So., RS
41 Manny Williams 6-1, 225, Fr., RS

OLB 38 Greg Williams 6-3, 240, So., RS
15 Shane Murray 6-2, 230, Sr., RS

MLB 8 Adam Gunn 6-2, 230, Sr., RS
40 Dan Mason 6-0, 225, Fr.,

CB 17 Aaron Berry 5-11, 180, Sr.,
22 Antwuan Reed 5-10, 190, So.,

CB 7 Jovani Chappel 5-9, 185, Sr.,
26 Ricky Gary 5-9, 175, Jr., RS

S 31 Dom DeCicco 6-3, 230, Jr.,
39 Jarred Holley 5-10, 175, Fr., RS
20 Irvan Brown 6-0, 205, Sr., RS

S 41 A. Taglianetti 5-11, 190, So.,
4 Elijah Fields 6-2, 225, Jr., RS

A few things stand out when I look at the depth chart.

  • There really aren't many weak spots in that starting eleven. While I have my questions about Gruder and Gunn, I think both players are better than our weak links in past years.
  • The D-line looks great. That's a really good starting four with Shayne Hale and Myles Caragein there as capable backups. Pitt is transforming from Wide Receiver U to Defensive Lineman U.
  • While I'd rather not start a freshman at MLB, I could see Dan Mason taking over the starting job by the end of the month. The guy just looks like a linebacker.
  • The secondary will be the most improved group on this team. There is a ton of talent back there. Berry, Gary, and Chappel are all good corners (it remains to be seen if Berry decides to become a great one), DeCicco, Fields and Taglianetti are all serviceable safeties (it remains to be seen if Fields decides to become more than just serviceable). The secondary and the D-line are very deep.
  • I love Greg Williams and the thought of him and Dan Mason teaming up for the next few seasons makes me giddy. That said, the linebackers are a bit underwhelming. Last season Scott McKillop's sure tackling allowed the safeties to play deep. Hopefully the linebackers will be able to give at least a B- effort. They'll have the benefit of playing behind a great defensive line.

I know I come off like a tremendous homer on these but its hard not to be excited about the defense. It's going to be very difficult for any offense to face a defense that can get pressure without blitzing and that's exactly what this defense can do.

The front four is going to cover up a lot of flaws on this team. If Pitt is successful this year it will be largely because of Sheard, Romeus, Mick Willaims, Gus Mustakus and the rest of the defensive lineman.

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