After taking a week off (blame work and grad school applications), let's look at this week's depth chart heading into the marquee home game of the season against future ACC rival #13 Virginia Tech.
We all know that Tino hasn't had a great start to this season. I still think he's going to be the starter for the remainder of the season. It's not that Chad Voytik couldn't be a suitable starter, because I definitely think he can and will. But why waste a redshirt on what already appears to be a lost season? To get Chad some starter's reps? Not a good enough reason for me. I'd rather finish this season frustrated with Tino and then get 4 seasons of solid QB play than throw Chad in when he's not ready.
Graham had a superb showing against Cincinnati, rushing for over 100 yards, and still Pitt looked terrible. That's how truly bad this team was. I don't expect him to have a similar showing against a defensively-sound Hokie squad. Not yet sure what to think of Shell, though there were times that I came away impressed. Let's see how he does on Saturday.
No changes from last week.
If I'm going to place blame in the offense's struggles, the wide receivers definitely deserve some of it. I just haven't came away impressed with this unit probably since Baldwin was at Pitt. Yes, most of the blame goes on the offensive line and Tino, but these guys have not been consistent. Whether it's dropped passes or miscommunications, there is clearly some work to do.
Oi, this line. I thought last season's was bad. I don't even know what to think of this one. If we're looking for good news, we aren't on pace for last season's sack total. Pitt has only allowed 7 in 2 games. But still, I hoped that the line would show some improvement going back to a pro-style offense and yet we're still seeing the same mistakes we saw last season. It just goes to show you what two poor recruiting classes will do to a team.
The first real changes in the depth chart from the first two games came here. You'll notice Murphy listed as the starter opposite Clemmings rather than Lippert. I like Murphy's play - watching him in fall camp, you had to come away impressed with him. While Lippert has more weight on him (280 vs. 255), I think Murphy is faster, which will help him get to the QB easier. You'll also notice Cook's name as the backup to Murphy, as opposed to redshirt senior Shayne Hale. Hale was a highly regarded prospect who never seemed to pan out at Pitt and the coaches no doubt want to see what a younger player like Cook, a redshirt freshman, can do against the Hokies.
Donald has probably been the only consistent player on this defense and because of that, he gets the most attention, which hasn't played out in his favor. Someone else on this defense needs to start making some noise to get the pressure off of him.
NT: Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith
After sitting out Week 1, Ezell had an okay performance against the Bearcats, recording 4 tackles. Cincinnati still ran over this line and with a good rushing team in Virginia Tech coming in on Saturday, I'm very concerned about the performance of this line.
Another area where the coaching changes can be seen. Last season was a mess at linebacker, with the change to a 3-4. Depth was a huge problem. And yet Pitt was okay due to the veteran play in the middle. Not anymore. The linebacker unit as a whole is one giant work in progress. Luckily for Pitt, or maybe not so much, all three starters will be around at least one more season to get a better understanding of their role in this defense.
See the blurb above. It applies here as well.
The cornerbacks were better in Week 2, though they still gave up some pretty big plays. But I like these two starters and I really think with time they can be two great cornerbacks. This week will be a big test for them.
The other area where there is a big change in the starting line-up. Taglianetti and Vinopal were the two starters in Week 1 against Youngstown State, but their play has not been at the level that Pitt has needed. Holley and Pitts were in for most of the game against Cincinnati and again, while they still gave up some big plays, I think they can be a make a pretty good pair in the secondary.
No changes from last week. There really hasn't been too much to say about Harper because Pitt hasn't put him in any opportunities to score. Yoklic has done a decent job punting thus far and the return game has been about what I expected going into the season.