1. Possibly change the defensive coordinator- Yes, I said possibly. It's no secret that I didn't like the hiring of Matt House. There were a lot of qualified coordinators available when House was hired but inexplicably Paul Chryst went with the inexperienced House. House may eventually be an excellent coordinator, but Chryst and his right hand man Joe Rudolph are offensive coaches and an experienced and proven defensive leader was needed, especially when the rest of the defensive staff was also inexperienced. In other words, Pitt doesn't have time for on the job training for the defensive coordinator.
I don't see Pitt demoting or firing House during the season, at least this early in the season, and it to be honest it would look bad if they do. Now that he's the man he has to stay the man at least through the season. But if he continues to fail then he needs to be replaced with an experienced and competent coordinator. And to be clear I never said he would fail, and I'm not saying he will continue to fail. I just didn't see why Pitt would hire an unproven defensive coordinator when the head coach and his second in command would be of no help, and when the rest of the staff was equally inexperienced. It wasn't worth the risk.
I know many fans think the hiring of House was a money issue but if it was it would be a change for Pitt. While they aren't the biggest spenders, they haven't been unusually cheap either. Past coordinators like Matt Cavanaugh, Frank Cignetti, Jr., and Phil Bennett weren't cheap, and hiring Rudolph away from Wisconsin would cost some money, too. In my opinion, Chryst has not hired well and Steve Pederson has let him. Both are at fault for the questionable hiring of not only House but some other hirings on the staff also. And, yes, Pederson does have veto power, and has used it before.
2. Change the coaching staff up- Not only is House an unproven coordinator but Inoke Breckterfield and Chris Haering are just as unproven. With such little talent on the front seven, it doesn't help that the Panthers back it up with coaches who can't get the most out of what they have. And don't even get me started on what little recruiting help they are. The only defensive coach I would keep, should things not change, is veteran John Palermo. With House, Breckterfield, and Haering out, the Panthers can add veterans with recruiting ties in places like Florida, New Jersey, and the Virginia/North Carolina area. It's pointless to have Haering for recruiting in the WPIAL when Rudolph or Engram can do it, and Breckterfield's ties in Hawaii and Idaho are obviously pointless.
3. Recruit better- This seems obvious, but the truth is that while the Panthers are adding some talented offensive prospects, the talent is seriously lacking on the defensive side. And it may get worse next year when Aaron Donald, Jason Hendricks, and K'Waun Williams will be gone from the defense.
Who will replace the few impact players on defense? Todd Thomas is a good player, but outside of him there are no obvious impact players in the front seven. Chryst and his staff have not brought in even one defensive lineman or linebacker who looks like he would definitely be a star. I'm not saying that out of players like Shakir Soto, Tyrique Jarrett, Luke Maclean, Justin Moody, Jeremiah Taleni, Rori Blair, Connor Dintino, Mike Herndon, and Shane Roy that somebody (or somebodies) won't eventually develop into a nice player, and I know that fans naturally think of the best case scenario with every prospect, but this isn't a group of highly coveted prospects. Put it this way, there's aren't any 6'4" 250 pound ends that got offers from Michigan and Penn State, or a 6'5" 290 pound tackle with offers from Miami and Georgia. Of course that kind of prospect may not prove to be better than what Pitt has brought in, but your chances are better when you have more prospects with a pedigree.
Also, a few ready to start junior college players should have been recruited. Just look at some of the front seven junior college prospects: 6'3" 275 pound DaVonte Lambert chose Tennessee over Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, and WVU; 6'4" 305 pound Abu Lamin chose South Carolina over Florida, Miami, and Georgia; 6'4" 275 pound Claudeson Pelon has offers from Wisconsin, Washington, Miami, and Nebraska. Other defensive linemen or linebackers have already chosen Tennessee, USC, Kentucky, Auburn, and Miami. If junior college players are good enough for these schools then there's no reason why Pitt doesn't get involved to get some instant help, especially since the staff can sell the fact that they would start immediately. And I'm not saying to load up on jucos. I'm talking about an end, a tackle, and a linebacker if possible. Instant defensive help only, though. The player must be a high impact player who could help immediately or there is no point in bringing them in.
4. More speed in the secondary- While Williams and Lafayette Pitts are solid corners both only have average speed for the position. That's why House had them playing so far off of the fast Florida State wide receivers. And Ray Vinopal, who combats his lack of size with his lack of speed, has obviously been a disaster at safety.
The best case scenario here is if Dravon Henry chooses the Panthers. He would immediately start at the corner. If Dontae Nicholson and/or Marquese Dudley-Gordon also commit then another true freshman will start at safety. At the other cornerback I would install Trenton Coles as the starter. He will only be a sophomore but at 6'3" he is a speed demon. At the other safety I would makes Pitts the starter, where his lack of elite speed won't be as much of a factor. Three new starters, three very fast players, and all talented. And with the possibility of adding Anthony Davis this year, and Jordan Whitehead and Kareem Gibson next year, the secondary has the chance to be phenomenal in the future.