Starting Lineup Reveals Few Surprises

The two-deep lineup looks just about the way many projected it with decisions being made on key position battles:

Several other positions were cleared up yesterday by Wannstedt as well:

• The place-kicker was won by redshirt junior Dan Hutchins over redshirt freshman Kevin Harper, but, keeping with the theme of the day, Wannstedt added, "Kevin Harper has got to get in the game."

• As expected, freshman Dion Lewis is the starting tailback, but freshman Ray Graham apparently did enough to leapfrog redshirt freshman Chris Burns for the backup spot. Wannstedt said all three would play and added, "Dion will take the bulk of the work, but we will just see how the game unfolds."

• Freshman Dan Mason won the backup spot at middle linebacker and joins Lewis and Graham as the only true freshmen who are likely to play this season. Wannstedt said he probably will redshirt the rest of the freshman class.

• Only three receivers were listed at the two receiver spots on the two-deep (Oderick Turner was listed twice) and Wannstedt said that's because the fourth spot will be an ongoing competition between Cameron Saddler, Aaron Smith and Aundre Wright. Mike Shanahan eventually will get into that mix as well, but he is still out with a hand injury and will not play this week. "It is so close," Wannstedt said. "They all do different things a little bit better than the other. It really wouldn't be fair at this point to say you're the fourth guy."

• Smith will be the punt returner and Saddler and defensive back Antwuan Reed will be the kick returners, while Luke Briggs will again be the kickoff specialist.

• One spot that Wannstedt did not name a starter is free safety and he said Elijah Fields and Andrew Taglianetti (listed as co-starters) will play a lot.

"We've got some different packages where both are in there," Wannstedt said. "But [along with strong safety Dom DeCicco] we have a rotation of three guys at the two safety spots."

• The defensive line will be a six-man rotation with the third defensive end (behind the two starters, Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard) being Brandon Lindsey and the third defensive tackle (behind Mick Williams and Gus Mustakas) being Myles Caragein. Both Lindsey and Caragein have the upper hand over other players at those positions because they can play in two spots (right and left end in Lindsey's case, nose and defensive tackle in Caragein's case).


The only surprise in my mind are Hutchins assuming the full kicking duties for now.

Wannstedt says Sunseri will play and Adam Gunn doesn't want a repeat performance of last year.

Meet Wannstedt, Johnny Majors, and former star lineman Ruben Brown at the Annual Pitt luncheon and get an up-close look at Pitt's championship trophies before the game on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Youngstown State is a familiar foe for Bill Stull.

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