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Season in Review: Michael Pitts

Pitts’ work at the JACK position helped elevate the play of the defensive front.

Alabama A&M v Cincinnati Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Numbers

  • 34 tackles
  • 7.5 tackles for loss
  • 4.0 sacks
  • 2 pass breakups

When the Cincinnati Bearcats created an entirely new position on defense, they needed to find the right guy to play it. They were successful in that endeavor as Michael Pitts took over the newly established JACK position and excelled.

The position itself was a bit of a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker. That gave Pitts the freedom to prioritize rushing the passer while the defensive front became more dynamic.

Pitts was the perfect choice to start at the post because of his defensive end background, but he still didn’t have a ton of actual playing experience on his side. The redshirt sophomore from Georgia had only played in seven total games before the 2018 campaign. Once he was given a full-time role, however, he never let it go, starting in all 13 games last fall.

It was easy to keep lining him up for the coaching staff because Pitts was one of the best pass-rushers on the team. He tied for fourth on the roster in both sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (7.5) while tallying two quarterback hits as well. When he was asked to drop back in coverage, he still performed well, collecting two pass breakups and two passes defended while producing 18 solo tackles and 34 in total.

Pitts still had some bad plays, with none worse than when he was flagged for a late targeting penalty against Temple, so he has to get better, but he produced a strong foundation on which to build.

The Best of the Best

Oct. 6 vs. Tulane

Pitts set a career-high with six total tackles, including half a sack.

Nov. 3 vs. Navy

He matched that career-high against the Midshipmen and also added two tackles for loss and a sack .

Nov. 10 vs. USF

Half of Pitts’ tackles in this game went for loss and he also had two passes defended.

Nov. 23 vs. East Carolina

A career-high four solo tackles, including one for loss, made for a pretty solid regular season finale.

For Next Year

Since the defensive line is losing a great deal of its starting power from 2018, its unclear if Pitts will continue to play out of the JACK position or if he will be shifted over to play a more traditional defensive end role. He should be able to excel in either spot, so the real challenge for 2019 will be avoiding bad penalties, which happened too often this past season.