Will the offensive line give Tino Sunseri time to throw? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
We all know that Pitt's offensive line didn't look all that great last season. Athlon says things won't be much different in 2012 and the site ranks the Panthers' line near the bottom of the conference.Athlon ranked the team's unit seventh out of eight teams and had this to say about Pitt's offensive line:
While quarterback Tino Sunseri received much of the blame for Pittsburgh’s offensive woes last year, the offensive line deserved a good bit of criticism as well. This group allowed a whopping 64 sacks, and rushers allowed just 3.5 yards per carry in 2011. The offensive line struggled to fit in Todd Graham’s up-tempo spread attack, but this unit is better positioned to succeed under new coach Paul Chryst and a pro-style offense. Another reason for hope up front is the return of guard Chris Jacobson. He missed most of last season with a knee injury and should stabilize the right side of the line. Ryan Turnley is one of the top returning centers in the Big East, but the rest of the group is up for grabs. Juantez Hollins and Matt Rotheram appear to have the inside track on the tackle spots, while Cory King has the edge at left guard. This unit will be improved, but there are enough question marks to keep it near the bottom of the Big East.
The money statement here is that even though they expect the line to be improved, they still rank almost dead last.
It's really difficult to determine how the line will play since we know so little about the new starters. Jacobson and Turnley will be solid, but without seeing how much the new guys have improved, it's really hard to get a handle on the position.
One thing we do know is that the unit isn't real deep. Even a single injury could really have the Panthers in bad shape. Ray Graham and company are good enough to make a few plays out of nothing and disguise some bad offensive line play, but the real concern is how they'll do in pass protection. We saw last year that Tino Sunseri had a strange penchant for taking some bad sacks. He'll be more comfortable in a familiar offense under head coach Paul Chryst, but until we actually see him in action behind the line, there's no real way to project how good (or bad) the unit will be.