Defense Takes Step Forward in Loss vs. Pitt
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - When you think of the Louisville football program, at least under the reigns of head coach Scott Satterfield, most people have the same general idea of what they're up against when facing the Cardinals. They expect a high-octane offense that lights up the scoreboard, but a defense that struggles and surrenders almost as many points as the offense puts up.
During Louisville's latest bout with the Pitt Panthers, the script seemed to be flipped. While the scoreboard was not in the Cardinals' favor when the clock hit zero, it was, for the most part, the defensive effort that kept Louisville in the game against the Panthers.
"Our defense played better today," head coach Scott Satterfield said after the 23-20 loss. "They kept us in the game, held them to some field goals. We feel like if we're holding teams to field goals, then we have a good opportunity to win the game."
One week removed from surrendering 47 points and 485 yards to the Miami Hurricanes at home, Louisville's defense held the Panthers to 376 yards and just 4.8 yards per play. They also allowed only 3 second half points and gave the offense one last shot in the game’s waning minutes.
The defense attributes being more focused as the key element to that type of improvement over just one week.
"We had too many mental mistakes against Miami that led to big plays and big points that ultimately got us beat," said safety Russ Yeast, who logged Louisville's first interception of the year in the third quarter vs. Pitt. "Just being more focused on defense, I think that's what led to us playing better today."
Louisville also did a much better job of getting into the backfield. The Cards tallied 11 tackles for loss and three sacks, most of whom came from linebackers Dorian Etheridge & Yasir Abdullah - who combined all of Louisville's sack and over half the TFLs with 6.5.
Pitt was also held to just five scoring drives as opposed to Miami's nine - three of which ended in field goals. While the defense wasn't happy with allowing 23 points, they believed having a "bend but don't break" type of performance is a good starting point for them.
"Just got to show a little more consistency," defensive back Marlon Character said. "Anytime we're on the field, just get as many stops as we can."
However they weren't perfect, and still have some areas that need cleaning up. Russ Yeast's interception was the lone turnover in favor of the Cards, a lack of focus contributed to Taysir Mack's score at the end of the first half, and Pitt went 9 of 18 on third down.
"Execute, and correct our mistakes that we made today," Character said when asked what his focus was heading into Louisville's bye week. "We have a little more time to prepare with this week off, and we're going to hit the ground running starting tomorrow."
Louisville heads into their first bye week, and will pick up their three-game road trip on Friday, Oct. 9 at 12:00 p.m. vs. Georgia Tech.
(Photo of Kei'Trel Clark, Taysir Mack: Atlantic Coast Conference)
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