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Pitt may need offensive line depth sooner rather than later with injuries to Artie Rowell and T.J. Clemmings

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A big focus this year has been on all of the depth Pitt head coach Paul Chryst is stockpiling on the Panthers' offensive line. It's a good thing that Pitt is deeper on the line than in recent years because they may need to call on some of that depth sooner rather than later.

Center Artie Rowell suffered a knee sprain against Boston College on Friday and left on crutches. Tackle T.J. Clemmings also left the game in the fourth quarter, due to injury.

Clemmings' didn't appear as severe and Chryst confirmed that afterwards. But it will be interesting to see just how much Pitt needs to go to the bench for next week's game.

If Rowell is out, it'll be Gabe Roberts starting at center. He had a solid game after coming in for Rowell against Boston College, but it hurts the depth at that position. In the case of Clemmings, if he misses any time, Chryst will have a decision to make.

Pitt could start Jaryd Jones-Smith at tackle, where he's been playing when he comes in off the bench. In those instances, tackle Adam Bisnowaty has moved over to guard and guard Dorian Johnson has taken a seat on the bench. Jones-Smith could be inserted as a starter along with Bisnowaty and Johnson on the field at the same time. That's the protocol Pitt used on Friday after Clemmings went down.

While that's a pretty easy temporary fix, there's also the question of needing a replacement for Johnson if coaches want to give him a break. If Jones-Smith starts, Pitt could either pull a guard off the bench to replace Johnson straight up. His backup on the two deep is technically Carson Baker (as of last week), but Pitt could also continue with their plan of moving Bisnowaty over and inserting someone else at tackle. And if that were the case, it could mean the debut of true freshman Alex Bookser. That's significant since it could mean the end of any plans to try and redshirt him.

All of this is premature until we know more about the injuries to Rowell and, in this case, really, Clemmings. But if either miss time, the Panthers will need to reach into their depth to keep things going.

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