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Savage to play Saturday, plus defensive notes

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt quarterback Tom Savage said Wednesday that his knee, which he injured late in the first half against North Carolina, was good to go and that he will play against Syracuse Saturday. This isn't a huge surprise, since Savage returned for the second half against the Tar Heels, but it's reassuring for Pitt fans nonetheless.

"I just tweaked something," Savage said. "It scared the crap out of me on the field. I'm good to go, though."

Savage said he got x-rays taken at halftime, but after they came back negative and gave the knee a test on the field, he was ready to go.

"Ultimately, you don't want to hurt the team," he said. "I'm not fast, but you don't want to put someone out there who legitimately can't move. But I was good to go. I kind of tested it out at halftime."

Defensive coordinator Matt House also met with the media today, and here are a couple of notes from his session...

- Cornerback Lafayette Pitts admitted Tuesday that he hasn't played up to his own expectations this season. After a stellar freshman campaign, Pitts has been up and down a little bit more this year.
"I think he's struggled a little bit, but certainly it hasn't been to the point where it's hurt us," House said. "The one thing you love and appreciate about Lafayette is he wants to be the best. He's probably his toughest critic."

- Add House to the list of people praising defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is up for just about every major award a defensive tackle can win.
"I haven't seen a defensive tackle dominate a game like he has, in our conference or anywhere," House said.
The big question moving forward is how Donald's talent translates to the NFL. He's a bit undersized at 6-foot, but House, who spent four years coaching in the Rams and Panthers organizations, was confident Donald will find a role.
"I know he'll have a niche," House said. "Having been fortunate enough to coach on that level, I've seen guys that are smaller than AD that have played eight, nine years in defensive tackle."

- House admitted that the absence of cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard forced the Panthers to alter their defensive gameplan against North Carolina. Rather than sub in a cornerback for nickel situations, Pitt moved safety Jason Hendricks down into a coverage role and put freshman Terrish Webb in at safety.
"He [Hendricks] plays faster than he'd run in a 40, because he understands how to play the game and he plays with good leverage most of the time," Houses aid. "He's a film junkie. He studies the snot out of tape."

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