Pitt defensive end Brandon Lindsey had a breakout season in 2010 when he stepped into a starting role to replace the injured Greg Romeus.
Lindsey racked up 17.5 tackles for loss to lead the league and had 10 sacks, ranking second in the Big East. That led him to a spot on the All-Big East second team. He went into the season as a candidate to become defensive player of the year.
But this year, Lindsey has transitioned to a new defensive scheme with a new coaching staff, and that has had an impact. The plan was for Lindsey to play as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end in the 3-4, but he never really felt comfortable playing in space. After starting the first game at the position, Lindsey was moved back to defensive end, where he does better with his hand on the ground. Ejuan Price is now starting at the "Panther" position, and that has allowed the Panthers to get more speed on the field.
Though Lindsey played defensive end last season, playing the position in the 4-3 and the 3-4 is different. Because he had been spending all his time practicing at the Panther position, Lindsey really did not know what to expect once he moved back to end. Last year, Lindsey was never lined up on a guard. Now, there are some fronts where he is between a guard and a tackle. That makes things harder because sometimes he gets double-teamed between the two and he was not expecting that.
"I just struggled with not knowing what they expect of me with the new position," Lindsey said in a recent phone interview. "I didn't understand the defense well enough since I was standing up the whole summer, so I didn't know what the down end actually did. But now, I am feeling completely comfortable."
Lindsey has not been completely shut out in the sack department. He does have four on the season, tied for second in the Big East, though he was held without a tackle last week against Rutgers. What he wants to improve on the most is his play against the run, especially because the knock against him is that he cannot stop the run.
"I am starting to come into my own," Lindsey said. "I'm just getting more and more comfortable every day. Hopefully by the middle to the end of the season, I will be where I want to be."