Wannstache Week: Mixed Signals

Wannstedt discusses NC State.

By the sound of it, Pittsburgh's front seven will be every bit as tough to deal with as South Carolina's, if not moreso.  The Panthers return a pair of defensive ends that combined for 13 sacks and 26 TFLs in 2008.  NC State, meanwhile, will be protecting Russell Wilson's blind side with a freshman left tackle.  That's just a tad worrisome.  They return one of their two starting interior linemen from a year ago and generally appear to have depth to burn across the DL.  And despite losing linebacker and 2008 Big East Defensive POY Scott Mckillop, Pittsburgh looks pretty well stocked at that position.  MLB Adam Gunn already has five sacks despite missing the Navy game on Saturday (he's expected to play against NC State).

None of Pittsburgh's opponents have been able to establish anything on the ground, and that includes those tricky Midshipmen, who were limited to 129 yards on 46 carries.  They put Navy in a bunch of 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations, their talented defensive line was able to tee off, and the results for Navy were predictably disastrous.

But then there is the matter of Buffalo, the only decent passing team Pittsburgh has seen all season, which found all kinds of success through the air despite a similar inability to run the football.  Pitt's secondary is experienced but nonetheless appears to be the weak link, and they're playing without their most talented safety, Andrew Taglianetti

Given enough time, the opportunities should be there for Russell Wilson, with or without Owen Spencer.  The difference between a Pittsburgh defense that looks vulnerable and a defense that looks impenetrable comes down to consistent pass protection.  We're about to find out if two weeks' worth of warmups did the offensive line any good.

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