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February 14, 2014

Douglas excited to join 'upward cycle'

A coaching-world connection led Troy Douglas to explore a potential opening at Pitt, and a closer look at the Panthers' program resulted in his being named secondary coach on Thursday.

Douglas, a 26-year veteran of college coaching, knew Pitt defensive coordinator Matt House from the time the two spent together at Michigan State, and they also shared a number of common connections. So when Douglas, who was coaching the defensive backs for former Pitt defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads at Iowa State, heard that House was on the market for a secondary coach, it drew his interest.

After doing some research on the current state of the Pitt football program under Paul Chryst, Douglas decided that he liked a lot of what he saw. And it didn't hurt that a move to Pittsburgh also meant a move back to territories he is familiar with.

"Coach Chryst has the program in an upward cycle and they're playing very well right now," Douglas said during a teleconference Thursday afternoon. "Plus, it's back in the ACC. The Big 12 is a great league, but this league's a little bit more to my liking because it has some teams in Florida and some teams in the southeast, which is where I'm from.

"I had a great experience at (North) Carolina - despite the fact that we all got let go because of the violations and whatnot - the experience was very nice. To get back in the ACC and be in a program on the upswing like Coach Chryst has the Panthers rolling, that's what excited me about it."

Douglas was at North Carolina for three years - 2009-11 - before joining Rhoads' staff at Iowa State. Prior to coaching the Tar Heels' secondary, he was the defensive backs coach at South Florida from 2006-08, and he also spent time at Indiana, South Carolina State, Michigan State, SMU, UTEP, East Tennessee State and Westchester.

His strongest seasons were probably those in Chapel Hill, particularly 2009 and 2010 when the UNC defense intercepted a total of 38 passes. Now Douglas is looking to bring that mentality to Pitt's secondary.

"I have two rules," he said Thursday. "One is that our job as a defense is to get the ball back to our offense. We will attack the football. There's no such thing as a defensive back (being a) receiver who can't catch playing D.B. In today's age with all the spread offenses and seven-on-sevens, if they throw us the ball, we have to make them pay.

"And my second rule is, you are what you put on tape. If your technique's poor or you're playing poor or you're playing soft, then everybody's going to know it; that's your resume. You have to put a good product on tape; it's going out all over the country and that's your resume. And that's my resume as well.

"So aggressive, get after the ball, play hard, physical and tough."

To that end, Douglas doesn't just want his defensive backs to attack the ball. He wants them to acquire the ball.

"It's all about confidence. Every drill that we do individually will have a ball involved in it. And there will be consequences for dropping balls. I call them MOBP's - missed opportunities for big plays.

"Pass breakups, they're nice, and a lot of times, they're big, especially on a big third-down play. But interceptions, you know, that's what gets the pretty girl. Everybody likes those picks, and you have to teach it in practice and you have to throw them a lot of balls."

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