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Pitt vs. North Carolina: Manasseh Garner's injury opens door for others to make impact

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt has several injuries heading into today's game against North Carolina and one is to starting wide receiver Manasseh Garner. Luke Maclean and Tyrique Jarrett on the defensive line may both be out and that significantly hurts the depth there. But of the three, Garner is the starter, so all eyes (or at least as many are still watching this season) will be on his replacement.

It's not so much what will be missed with him - on the year, he has only 17 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He's been serviceable but for a No. 2 receiver, he's been underwhelming. Part of that, however, is on Chad Voytik and the passing game, which has been nonexistent for much of the season. But overall, despite a handful of big catches, Garner has had only a modest season.

The real intrigue comes in trying to figure out who steps up in his absence. Several candidates exist, but ironically, the next two leading receivers for the Panthers aren't even wide receivers - JP Holtz has 14 catches and Isaac Bennett has ten. Still, other wideouts will get their chance in this game.

Kevin Weatherspoon and Ronald Jones are probably the favorites to start in his place. Jones has nine catches on the year to Weatherspoon's eight. Another guy that many also hope to figure in is true freshman Adonis Jennings. Jennings' redshirt was burned this year as he's gotten on the field. He's been used sparingly, however, and Garner's injury could open up some more opportunity for him as well. Dontez Ford, the Syracuse transfer, is also a candidate to see more time.

It will depend on who gets open, but part of his carries could be distributed to the tight ends, which haven't been used all that much to date this year. A few of the wide receivers, however, will get their chance to make an impact.

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