August 28, 2007

Defense aims at stopping the run

Stopping the run has been a goal for the Pitt defense, going back to 2002. In each of the seasons since then, the Panthers have lost games because they were unable to stop the run. 2006 was another down year, in terms of being unable to stop the run. To make matters more challenging, the Panthers must replace longtime starters H.B. Blades and Clint Session, who combined for over 250 of the defense's 843 tackles last season (keep in mind that includes special teams tackles).

Perhaps no player on this current defense has taken in more personal than Scott McKillop. Already facing the pressure of replacing Blades, he has placed the burden of improving the run defense not just on himself, but of all the linebackers.

"The burden is a lot more on our shoulders," McKillop said. "One thing that's helping us this year is that Coach Rhoads, who is the defensive coordinator, is also the linebackers coach. The one thing he has stressed this year is to not only know our positions, and why we're doing something, but to know the front line (assignments), and everything to make the whole defense correct."

McKillop has not only played well through the spring and through camp, but he realizes the mental aspect of playing the MIKE position. It was something he was aware of, in the past, but something he never fully understood until becoming a starter.

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