New middle linebacker a big hit for the Panthers

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Linebacker Joe Trebitz walked into the interview room at Pitt's South Side facility Monday with a few cuts and bruises on his face, remnants of the Panthers' triple-overtime loss Saturday against Notre Dame.

"Pretty physical game," Trebitz said.

While the Panthers ultimately came up short, Trebitz made the most of his first career start, leading the Panthers with 13 tackles.

That total was the most of any Pitt player in a game this season.

Trebitz's strong performance was vital for the Panthers because he came into the game as their only healthy middle linebacker.

Regular starter Shane Gordon was limited by a high ankle sprain (though he did get in for one play) and second-stringer Dan Mason lacerated his liver making a tackle against Temple the previous week, ending his season.


  • Game: Pitt (4-5, 1-3 Big East) at Connecticut (3-6, 0-4), East Hartford, Conn.
  • When: 8 p.m. Friday
  • TV: ESPN.

So heading into arguably Pitt's biggest game of the season, it was basically Trebitz or bust at middle linebacker, and the fifth-year senior delivered with seven solo tackles and six assists, while playing a major role in stopping the Notre Dame rushing attack from getting any big plays.

The longest Irish run of the day was a 27-yard scramble by quarterback Everett Golson late in the game.

"I just wanted to do the best I can for my teammates," Trebitz said. "We've all worked so hard and put in so much time everyday, I wanted to do it for my teammates.

"Yeah, it felt good to have some success, but at the end of the day, we still lost."

Weakside linebacker Todd Thomas, who had to work with and communicate coverages with Trebitz, said he was impressed with how his teammate filled in.

"That's a helluva job," Thomas said. "He did a real good job on Saturday."

Despite the loss, Trebitz said he and his teammates gained some belief from playing with the No. 4 Irish even for four quarters and then some.

"It's just a sense of confidence throughout the locker room," he said. "I think everyone walked away with their head held high after that game because we did play so well and so tough."

Gordon has returned to practice, and it looks as if he's getting closer to 100 percent. Still, Trebitz showed Saturday that if or when Gordon re-assumes his role as the starting middle linebacker, the Panthers have some quality depth behind him.

"I think I showed what I can do, but I have the trust in the coaches that they'll make the right decision," Trebitz said.

After his performance Saturday, it might be hard for them to deny Trebitz more playing time. Still, for all the tackles and plays he made against the Irish, Trebitz said his most memorable moment came after the game was over, when he met his parents outside the stadium.

"Win or loss, they were so proud of me and how I played," Trebitz said. "I played with my whole heart."

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Sam Werner: and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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