Pitt vs. Syracuse: Breaking down the two-deep

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Pitt heads to Syracuse on Friday, which means an updated depth chart.

Dear ESPN: You suck. On to the depth chart.

QB: Tino Sunseri, Trey Anderson

Tino hasn't had the greatest performances following a bye week in the past and the Cuse seem to play their best on a Friday night. But he has had two great performances the past two games and in his last trip to the Dome he threw for four TDs, including one on Pitt's first offensive play.

RB: Ray Graham, Isaac Bennett, Rushel Shell

The running backs didn't have their best performance against Gardner-Webb, but I put more of that on the offensive line rather than the backs. Graham appears to be rounding into form, but we'll see on Friday how much more progress he has to make.

FB: Mark Giubilato, Adam Lazenga

One of the possible reasons that the ground game struggled was the absence of Giubilato, who sat out last week. We'll see this week if his return helps the running game.

WR: Mike Shanahan*, Devin Street*, Cameron Saddler, Joshua Brinson

Shanahan continues to have an outstanding season, catching five passes for 144 yards and two TDs against Gardner-Webb. Shanahan, Street, and Saddler all caught five passes in the last game, but they'll face a tough test in the Orange who rank in the top 25 in pass defense. Of course, Stony Brook and Minnesota aren't exactly known for their air attack.

TE: Hubie Graham, Drew Carswell, J.P. Holtz

It remains to be seen if Graham will see the field on Friday after injuring his clavicle against Cincinnati, but even if he doesn't, Carswell and Holtz have done well in his absence.

LT: Cory King, Adam Bisnowaty

LG: Chris Jacobson, Arthur Doakes

C: Ryan Turnley, Artie Rowell

RG: Ryan Schlieper, Shane Johnson

RT: Matt Rotheram, Zenel Demhasaj

The line didn't have their strongest performance against Gardner-Webb, but they did a good enough job that Tino was only sacked once. Syracuse is averaging just over two sacks a game, so this should be a tougher test for the Pitt line than the last game.

DE: T.J. Clemmings*, Bryan Murphy*, Shayne Hale, Devin Cook

A slight change in the two deep as Hale replaces Jack Lippert behind Clemmings after Hale had a strong game against the Runnin' Bulldogs, recording a sack and three tackles. Cook has been playing extremely well and looks to continue to build on a strong redshirt freshman season.

DT: Aaron Donald, Darryl Render

After missing last week due to an injury, Donald is back in the starting lineup. Render did a serviceable job in his place, recording three tackles and made his presence felt in Gardner Webb's backfield.

NT: Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith

Ezell and Mosley-Smith both had quiet games against Gardner-Webb, but Ezell has looked impressive thus far. Ryan Nassib is one of the top QB's in the Big East, so the line will have to get to him early and often to get him out of rhythm.

OLB: Eric Williams*, Manny Williams*, Emanuel Rackard, Nicholas Grigsby

The linebackers did a good job against an overmatched opponent, limiting Gardner-Webb to just 95 yards passing. Again, Syracuse has one of the better offenses Pitt will face this season, so they'll have to step their game up. Todd Thomas returned to practice a few weeks ago, so it's possible that he will see some playing time against the Orange.

MLB: Shane Gordon, Joe Trebitz

It was great to see Dan Mason get onto the field late against Gardner-Webb. Could he see playing time against the Orange? Possible, but I wouldn't expect many snaps.

CB: Lafayette Pitts*, K'Waun Williams*, Cullen Christian

With the injury to Pardner, Christian is listed as the backup to both Pitts and Williams. After a lackluster showing in the first two games, the cornerbacks played up close on the line of scrimmage and look what happens. I'm pretty sure I wrote this last time, but only because I'm still amazed that it took until the 3rd week for the coaching staff to realize this.

Safety: Jarred Holley*, Jason Hendricks*, Andrew Taglianetti, Ray Vinopal

Hendricks continues to haunt opposing QB's after grabbing his 3rd interception of the season and is well on his way to all-conference status. The defensive backs really did a good job shutting down Gardner-Webb's receivers, but will have a tougher assignment this week against Syracuse.

Special Teams: Matt Yoklic (punter and holder), Kevin Harper (kicker), Kevin Barthelemy (long snapper), Cameron Saddler, Ronald Jones, Lafayette Pitts (returners)

The one weakness in this Pitt football resurgence has been special teams. From the poor tackling on returns to missed field goals, this is the one aspect that hasn't seen improved play from the first two weeks to the second. One of these days, it's going to come back to bite Pitt.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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