Pitt must watch Wolf­pack’s Chubb

N.C. State star DE could be prob­lem for QB DiNucci

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - College Football - By Brian Batko

Pitt foot­ball al­ready has faced the best run­ning back and best wide re­ceiver in Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion, so why not take a crack at the best de­fen­sive end, too?

There’s not much ar­gu­ment that Penn State tail­back Saquon Barkley and Ok­la­homa State wide­out James Wash­ing­ton wear the crowns at their po­si­tions, and the same can be said for Bradley Chubb, a se­nior 6-foot-4, 275-pound pass-rush­ing jug­ger­naut for No. 20-ranked N.C. State.

Ben DiNucci, who will start Satur­day for Pitt at quar­ter­back, was in front of a TV watch­ing Chubb wreak havoc Oct. 5 when the Wolf­pack took down then-No. 17 Louisville, led by reign­ing Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner La­mar Jack­son un­der cen­ter.

“He’s got a very good mo­tor, he’s pretty big. … La­mar was run­ning back there a lit­tle bit,” DiNucci said of Chubb. “So I’m gonna be pre­pared for what­ever comes my way Satur­day. I have full trust in the line and the run­ning backs to make the right calls up front, get their pro­tec­tion squared up.”

The thing about Chubb is that even if your pro­tec­tion scheme is pic­ture-per­fect and ex­e­cuted to a T, he might just plow right through you any­way. On the sea­son, he has 35 tack­les, 14 for a loss (sec­ond most in the FBS) and 6.5 sacks (tied for third in FBS). In the Louisville game, even against the elec­tric Jack­son, Chubb came away with six tack­les, two for a loss, and a sack.

N.C. State’s front seven is con­sid­ered one of the best in FBS, and its de­fen­sive line even more elite, but Chubb stands out above the rest. He has at least a half-sack in ev­ery game since the sea­son opener against South Carolina, the Wolf­pack’s only loss, and he has brought down the quar­ter­back five times in three ACC games.

“We’ll do some dif­fer­ent things to kinda con­tain him and the rest of those guys up front, and then we’ll try to at­tack their weak­nesses in what­ever ways that we can,” DiNucci said. “Ob­vi­ously, they’re a top-25 team for a rea­son; they’re good, so we’re gonna have to ex­e­cute pretty well on Satur­day.”

Pitt of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Shawn Wat­son pointed out that N.C. State’s de­fense has al­lowed 296.3 pass­ing yards per game, so Chubb’s pres­ence hasn’t com­pletely de­railed some op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs. But while Wat­son wants his new start­ing quar­ter­back to be more com­fort­able in the pocket, he said this week, the key for DiNucci is to get rid of the ball fast to neu­tral­ize the pass rush.

He also will have to keep his head on a swivel, as Chubb and com­pany will be a ma­jor test for Pitt’s of­fen­sive line to keep DiNucci off the turf. Left tackle Brian O’Neill cer­tainly will have his hands full, but so might who­ever starts at right tackle, be­cause Chubb will rush from both sides of the field.

“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s tal­ented. There’s no shy­ing away from that,” O’Neill said. “I know it, our of­fen­sive line knows it; he’s a great player. Prob­a­bly the best de­fen­sive end I will have played to this point in my ca­reer.”

That’s lofty praise, and O’Neill car­ried it fur­ther in dis­cussing the N.C. State de­fen­sive line as a whole, say­ing it’s the best Pitt has seen this year. A red­shirt ju­nior who matched up with even­tual na­tional cham­pion Clem­son, O’Neill said the unit he’ll square off with Satur­day ac­tu­ally might be the best he has ever faced.

“They’re right up there, for sure,” O’Neill said. “I know Clem­son was re­ally tal­ented up front, and th­ese guys are up there. In the top two or three, for sure.”

And when it comes to de­fen­sive play­ers in col­lege foot­ball this year, Chubb might be No. 1.

Bob Leverone/As­so­ci­ated Press

N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb might be the best de­fen­sive end in col­lege foot­ball, record­ing 6.5 sacks, tied for third in FBS, and 35 tack­les, 14 for a loss, sec­ond in FBS.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.