Expectations for a stout defense at the University of Pittsburgh escalated after Panthers brass hired one of college football’s top defensive minds, Pat Narduzzi, as the team’s new head coach.
SI.com’s Thayer Evans reported that Florida International’s Josh Conklin will take over as Narduzzi’s handpicked choice as defensive coordinator.
“Conklin has been Florida International’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons and is regarded as one of the nation’s brightest young defensive coaches,” Evans wrote.
It can be an intimidating proposition for the 35-year-old coordinator.
The Michigan State Spartans defense was consistently ranked in the Top 10 during Narduzzi’s tenure as defensive coordinator. Narduzzi also won the Broyles Award in 2013 as the nation’s top assistant coach.
However, Conklin worked wonders in 2014 with the Panthers defense. Florida International ranked 35th in total defense. The unit surrendered 363.8 yards per game, which was a 65.9-yard per game improvement from his first season. The Panthers defense also finished fourth in the nation in takeaways.
How much control Conklin will actually have over play-calling duties during his first season at Pitt is still in question. Narduzzi could still oversee Pitt’s defense as Conklin grows into his role on the staff. Or, the new head coach could simply let an up-and-comer take over and let him run with the opportunity.
Either way, the Panthers are expected to field a stingy defense, and people in Pittsburgh expect nothing less.
(Photo courtesy of Florida International athletic department)