Posted: 1:34 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013
The Post-Gazette's Sam Werner had a good look at a current two-deep for Pitt football this spring. As he mentions, things will change, so no need to get bent out of shape by something you see and don't like. Injuries are taken into account and then there are the fall players Pitt will have. But here are a few of my own observations based on his rotation:
Wide receiver - The passing game intrigues me this year because it's such a big concern in my mind. Not only is Pitt working with many new receivers who haven't played all that much previously, but there's a new quarterback. I've got serious concerns on what kind of rhythm that unit can get by the time the season starts. We know that Devin Street is a given to start if he's healthy, but the No. 2 spot is up for grabs between Ronald Jones, Ed Tinker, and when he gets here, Tyler Boyd. Werner mentions this spot could be in flux up until the opener, but I think it could even go beyond that. If someone doesn't produce, someone else will get a spot.
Defensive line - If you're not concerned here, you should be. The starters are actually all upperclassmen, but it's all the youth behind them that scares me. Freshman Shakir Soto and sophomore Darryl Render are penciled in by Werner as immediate backups at defensive end and tackle. Freshman Tyrique Jarrett could also factor in. The bottom line is that the starters better stay healthy (not to mention effective) or Pitt will be playing a lot of younger guys here.
Linebacker - One of the biggest position battles I'll be watching is for strongside linebacker. Werner has Anthony Gonzalez in as the starter right now, but two highly touted 2012 recruits, Bam Bradley and Deaysean Rippy will be pushing him. Gonzo himself came in as a big time recruit, but hasn't found a niche suiting up at quarterback and receiver before moving to linebacker. He's the veteran, but still learning the position. It's conceivable one of those guys could beat him out.
Kicker - Go ahead, laugh if you must. But this is a key spot for Pitt here. The Panthers aren't going to be a great team in 2013 and will likely see their share of close games. They'll need a reliable kicker and with senior Kevin Harper gone, the position is up for grabs among three guys. Make no mistake about it - this is a big spot.