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Paul Chryst preparing to name Pitt football starters, define roles

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote about this when I covered Pitt's first scrimmage at training camp last weekend, but head coach Paul Chryst said that this week the team would start making some decisions about starters.

Chryst confirmed that at Tuesday's practice again.

"We (the coaches) met about it, and it is always ongoing, but certainly by the end of this week heading into Delaware, guys will know their roles", Chryst said.

Looking at the team, a few jobs seem up for grabs.

Quarterback seems to be the easiest decision to make and while Chad Voytik hasn't been terribly impressive in camp, it's virtually at 99% that he's going to be the starter heading into the opener. He's been groomed to start, was the backup last season, and just as importantly, doesn't have much competition from Trey Anderson or true freshman Adam Bertke.

Running back should be just as easy, but people tend to forget that Isaac Bennett was the starting back last year who got a lot of carries at the beginning of games. Bennett has been dinged up still recovering from shoulder surgery and Conner has the most upside. Conner should get the nod there and even if Bennett is declared healthy enough to go, he's missed time in camp. Either way, both guys (assuming they're healthy) should get their share of carries at the onset.

Then, there was the offensive line quandary as Dorian Johnson took a seat for a (very) short time in favor of Jaryd Jones-Smith. That was short lived, however, and as I wrote at the time, I fully expected Johnson to get the starting spot in the opener. He was with the first unit in the scrimmage and seems like a lock at this point.

As Jerry DiPaola noted in the Trib recently, the third wide receiver job is another one up in the air. With Adonis Jennings missing some time in camp, it could be Ronald Jones here. Jones was with the first unit for the scrimmage with Tyler Boyd out and might be the guy. Zach Challingsworth has been given a good amount of praise and seemed to be the leader for the second unit's wideouts, but Jones is probably my pick for that role for now.

On defense (and, really, on the entire team), the biggest question mark is what players in the secondary step up to claim a starting spot. Lafayette Pitts at corner and Ray Vinopal at safety are the two returning starters. Reggie Mitchell, Avonte Maddox, and Trenton Coles have all been battling it out at corner. Mitchell was in contention for the starting safety spot earlier with Terrish Webb. Really interesting to see who's going to emerge because all three of those guys at corner have all gotten first team reps at some point.

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