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Pitt vs. Syracuse: Breaking Down the Two Deep

Looking at Pitt's official depth chart for Saturday's game.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

QB -  1. Nathan Peterman 2. Chad Voytik

Nate Peterman is now 3-1 as Pitt's starting quarterback and has guided the Panthers to three straight victories. He tossed three touchdowns and 0 interceptions last week in the win over Georgia Tech.  Peterman continues to play well, and seems to be getting more and more confident each week. The offense appears to be opening up a tad, and perhaps he can make some more big plays at Syracuse on Saturday.

Chad Voytik's playing time continues to be limited. He was able to attempt his first pass in three weeks, but it was an incomplete.

RB -  1. Qadree Ollison   OR  Chris James 2. Darrin Hall

All three running backs played well last week. Pitt continues to miss James Conner, but these three guys are combining for enough production to make up for his loss.  Qadree Ollison got the most work last week, as he rushed 22 times for 83 yards and a score. He also caught two passes for 15 yards.  Ollison now leads the team with 559 yards and five touchdowns, much better than everyone anticipated for him this season.

Chris James is still listed as the co-starter, but did not see a ton of action on Saturday. James had three carries for 22 yards, including a nice 17 yard dash in the first half.  James has had sporadic carries, but has done well when he gets them with a 5.5 yards per carry average.   Darrin Hall got his first taste of action since the Iowa game, and posted 38 yards on eight carries.  The true freshman hasn't been outstanding, but he's been a solid contributor to this point.

FB - 1. George Aston   2.  COlton Lively   3. Anthony Rippole

The fullbacks did a nice job paving the way for the backs last week. George Aston appeared to be the culprit when Pitt got whistled for too many men on the field at one point late in the game.

WR -  1. Tyler Boyd Dontez Ford 2. Tre Tipton Jester Weah 3. Zach Challingsworth Elijah Zeise 4.Quadree Henderson

Tyler Boyd had a memorable day last Saturday, and just continues to shine as one of the best offensive players in the country. Boyd caught 8 passes for 68 yards and two scores.  He managed to break the school's all-time record for catches along the way.  Boyd ran it five times for 26 yards, and completed a pass also. He carried the Pitt on offense for a bulk of the game, and is now up to 41 catches on the season.

Dontez Ford chipped in one catch for 41 yards, and he has proven that he can come up with at least a play or two a game. Look for Ford to have a big game going up against his former team. Zach Challingsworth was the recipient of Boyd's throw, and it marked his second catch of the season.

TE -  1. JP Holtz   2. Scott Orndoff 3. Jaymar Parrish

J.P. Holtz hauled in his third touchdown of the season in the second half to tie the game at 28 all. Holtz had three catches overall for 28 yards. Scott Orndoff has held without a catch, but he along with Jaymar Parrish did a nice job blocking on Saturday. The tight end position has been used more regularly this season, and I look for that trend to continue on Saturday.

LT - 1. Adam Bisnowaty 2. Aaron Reese

LG - 1. Dorian Johnson 2. John Guy

C - 1. Artie Rowell 2. Gabe Roberts

RG - 1. Alex Officer 2. Alex Bookser 3. Mike Herndon

RT - 1. Brian O'Neill 2. Alex Bookser 3. Carson Baker

Pitt's offensive line paved the way for 391 total yards of offense last week. Overall, I thought it was one of the better performances of the season for the line.  The opening drive of the game was a thing of beauty, as they chewed up 7:10 off the game clock.  The unit itself seems to be coming into their own.  I've noticed Brian O'Neill playing better of late, he looks pretty good for a converted tight end.

DE -  1. Rori Blair OR Shakir Soto  Ejuan Price 2. James Folston 3. Allen Edwards

The big difference this week is Shakir Soto is now listed as a co-starter with Rori Blair.  I think that is recognition for Soto's game last Saturday.  In fact, that very well could have been the junior's best game in his career at Pitt. Soto blocked a field goal, recorded a sack, and finished with four tackles. Ejuan Price had one tackle (for loss) last week.  Price also made some nice plays that do not show up on the stat sheet. It wasn't all good for the Ends, though, as they did break contain quite a bit in the first half and the triple option gave them a lot of difficulty.

DT - 1. Darryl Render 2. Mark Scarpinato 3. Jeremiah Taleni

Darryl Render came up with two tackles last Saturday. It's a tough assignment going up against a triple option team, as the interior linemen have to deal with a lot of shuffling and chop blocks. Render and the other linemen should get back to their usual selves with a more conventional attack with Syracuse.

NT - 1. Tyrique Jarrett  2. Khaynin Mosley-Smith 3. Justin Moody

Jarrett and Mosley-Smith each had a tackle for loss in the game last week. I thought both big men did a nice job, and the Pitt defense really tightened up in the second half, obviously.

Star Linebacker - 1. Nicholas Grigsby 2. Matt Steinbeck 3. Jameel Poteat

Nicholas Grigsby ended up playing last week after all. He sustained a neck injury of sorts against Virginia, and his status was up in the air.  Grigsby forced a fumble, recorded two tackles, and should have had the game-ending interception that he dropped.  Ultimately it did not make a difference in the outcome.

Mike Linebacker  1. Matt Galambos  2. Quintin Wirginis

Matt Galambos continued his solid junior campaign by posting five tackles last week. I look for him to have a good game this week against Syracuse. He has four sacks this season from his middle linebacker spot, and I expect Josh Conklin to dial up some pressure on Saturday. It was good to see Wirginis to get into the mix on defense, and he came up with a nice play or two.

Money Linebacker 1. Bam Bradley 2. Mike Caprara 3. Jamal Davis II

Bam Bradley had a quiet game on Saturday. I thought with his skill set, Bradley would be primed for a big day against the triple option.  Mike Caprara continued his productive season with a pair of tackles for loss.  He has a knack for big plays, and he has a good run of those in the past 2-3 weeks.

CB - 1. Avonte Maddox Lafayette Pitts 2. Ryan Lewis Phillipie Motley OR Dennis Briggs

Avonte Maddox got beat for one of the few times this season. It's been a rare occurrence, but he was guarding someone 6 inches taller than he is.  It's bound to happen sometimes with Maddox when he gives up that kind of height to the receiver.  Maddox did well in the running game, and he also had the interception that sealed the deal.

Lafayette Pitts did some nice things, and he drew a big offensive pass interference penalty on Georgia Tech's final drive.  Ryan Lewis was pressed into action briefly as Maddox went down for a short period of time, and he held his own I thought.

SS - 1. Jordan Whitehead   2. Jevonte Pitts

Jordan Whitehead went out fairly early with a head injury last week, but not before he made his presence known on a big open field hit.  Whitehead is supposedly good to go Saturday, which is huge for this Pitt defense. Jevonte Pitts was expected to see some time this week anyway before the injury, and he managed to force a fumble and record two tackles.   It will be interesting to see if he works his way into the rotation a little more this week.

FS -  1. Terrish Webb 2. Pat Amara Jr. 3. Reggie Mitchell

Terrish Webb managed to post four tackles and scoop up a fumble recovery before exiting the game with an injury.  Narduzzi initially thought he would return last week, and I expect him to be able to play this week. Amara is an experienced guy and did a fine job stepping in for him.

K - Chris Blewitt P - Ryan Winslow  LS - David Murphy/Pat Quirin

Chris Blewitt, enough said.   Also have to mention Ryan Winslow's punting was superb, and gave Pitt a win in the field position battle.

PR - 1. Boyd   2. Maddox/Whitehead     KR - Boyd/Maddox/Pitts/Ford

It seems almost crazy to think about, but Pitt may need to switch punt returners. Boyd misplayed two punts, but somehow managed to get them back, or else it could have been devastating turnovers.  He misplayed a few in prior games as well. Pitt even stuck Quadree Henderson back there as a second return man, it might be worth giving him or Whitehead a chance this week.