I’ve been sitting down at the computer a few times over the last three days with fingers poised to write about PITT’s defense going into summer camp then the season and it has taken me some time to try to get a handle on what exactly to put out to you Blatherites.
I guess I’ll start from the very bottom and work up. Aaron Donald is gone and he ain’t coming back. The “All-World” winner of every major award he was eligible for gave the defense its identity and leadership last year and he’ll be missed. That isn’t cutting edge journalism folks as I just repeated what every single PITT already knows and is nervous about.
However, I’m a firm believer that in college football players who have been in the shadows will frequently rise up and grab the reins of leadership by their play themselves. This is what happens when underclassmen get a year or two of experience under their belts and become starters and sometimes stars. We’ll not see anyone specific fill Donald’s shoes, he is a once in a generation player, but that doesn’t mean the staff can’t make adjustments to minimize his absence.
What I found interesting, and a bit disheartening, is that this week Chryst stated publicly that he heard from some of the DL kids after the season ended that they sometimes eased off a bit knowing that Aaron Donald was going to make the plays. Here’s Chryst’s take on that and what it was like having Donald play for him. I wholeheartedly agree that it will ‘take a village’ as Hilary says.