Ray Graham's health is a factor in Pitt's 2012 season (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Back in January, Andrea Adelson at ESPN slotted Pitt sixth in her preseason Big East power rankings. But now that spring ball is over, she's decided to move the Panthers up slightly in her post-spring rankings.Adelson moved Pitt up one spot to fifth in her most recent rankings:
5. Pitt: If there is any team with "ifs" all over the roster, it is the Panthers. They have a new head coach. They are returning Tino Sunseri at quarterback. Nobody knows how Ray Graham is going to do after major knee surgery. The offensive line has to be better. There is not much depth on the defensive line. If all of these come together, the Panthers could be really good. If they don't, they could be really bad.
After her last rankings, I basically agreed with her comments (though, not the placement). But this time, not so much.
Pitt does have some 'ifs', but I don't know that they do more than most other teams in the conference. No one is all that dominant in my opinion, and I remain thoroughly unsure that Louisville and Rutgers are head and shoulders above everyone else.
But regarding some of those 'ifs', even if Graham is not 100%, with Rushel Shell and Isaac Bennett, I think the running game will still be in good hands. And while there are questions about the defensive line, that's a position that Pitt always seems to be about to get production out of. I really like the newcomers on the line and they still have Aaron Donald - the best lineman on the team last year.
If I had to rank Pitt right now, I'd probably put them third or fourth. South Florida always seems to wet the bed (as does, admittedly, Pitt), so I'm not sure they're a slam dunk over the Panthers at this point. And we saw what happened in last year's game when the Bulls came into Heinz Field as a favorite.