QB - 1. Nate Peterman 2. Chad Voytik
Nate Peterman played another steady football game last week against Syracuse. He went 19-25 passing for 189 yards. He did not throw a touchdown, but he did not throw an interception either. It marked the fourth straight game Peterman has avoided throwing an interception, and of course, Pitt is 4-0 in those games. Peterman made a couple of productive runs as well. He will need to control the offense once again, but as evidence by his stats, he does not have to carry this football team right now. Peterman just needs to get the ball in the hands of Boyd and limit turnovers, and he's doing a good job of that.
Voytik did not see the field last Saturday. It is worth noting that Voytik was 11-16 for 218 yards and a score last year against Carolina, and he also ran the ball 10 times for 41 yards. He may get back into the mix this week with a few running packages.
RB - 1. Qadree Ollison OR Chris James 2. Darrin Hall
Qadree Ollison had a workmanlike performance last week in his native upstate New York. The redshirt freshman ran the ball 23 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns. It was his third career 100+ yard performance, and it was his first multiple touchdown game as well. Ollison is having an excellent season, and looks to be one of the best freshman backs in the country.
Chris James had a productive game against Syracuse. The sophomore back posted 31 rushing yards and had a big 22 yard reception. James had one of the best plays of the day as he looked wrapped up at the line of scrimmage and broke a tackle and turned it into a 17 yard run. Darrin Hall touched the ball twice for -4 yards.
Pitt's rushing game hasn't been great, but it's been solid. They have a chance to piece together a big game on Thursday. North Carolina ranks 111th in rushing defense nationally. If you recall back to last season's meeting, Pitt racked up 305 total rushing yards, including a 30 carry 220 yard showing by James Conner. If Pitt establishes a consistent running game Thursday, it will be their best bet at beating the Tar Heels.
FB - 1. George Aston 2. Colton Lively 3. Anthony Rippole
The fullbacks did not see any touches last week, but proved to be helpful in the running game with their blocking.
WR - 1. Tyler Boyd Dontez Ford 2. Tre Tipton Jester Weah 3. Zach Challingsworth Elijah Zeise 4. Quadree Henderson
Tyler Boyd had a career high 12 receptions last week against Syracuse. In fact, Boyd did just about everything last week. Boyd rushed 6 times for 34 yards. He also completed a pass for the second straight game. It is pretty clear the coaching staff is going to let Boyd do anything to help the team win. He is one of the top playmakers in the country, and Pitt is riding his versatility to victories.
Dontez Ford posted a season high in receptions (4) and reciving yards (78) last week against his former team. I had a feeling Ford would perform against his old team, but it's also a sign that he's coming on to be a reliable secondary option. Zach Challingsworth had a catch for the second straight week, and he's slowly emerging as the third receiver, but it's still not set in stone.
Tre Tipton continues to be listed here, but with a leg injury, it's hard to imagine him making it onto the field again this season.
TE - 1. J.P. Holtz 2. Scott Orndoff 3. Jaymar Parrish
JP Holtz had one catch for 14 yards in a big first down conversion in the first half. Scott Orndoff hauled in a big catch for 17 yards in the second half. Both guys have been active in the offense this season, but they did not see as many targets as they have been seeing. All the tight ends, Parrish including, did a nice job blocking last week.
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
The offensive line paved the way for 427 yards of total offense last week. The Panthers held the edge in time of possession with 36:37 to 23:23. Pitt's offense line did a nice job of run blocking, and keeping the offense on the field late in the game. Ollison and James both had room to run for the most part. I thought the pass protection was spotty at times, and the offense combated that with a quick passing game. Overall it was a solid day, as it's hard to argue with that time of possession and yardage total. As mentioned above, they need to establish the rushing game on Thursday against North Carolina.
DE - 1. Ejuan Price Shakir Soto OR Rori Blair 2. James Folston 3. Allen Edwards
Shakir Soto and Rori Blair each had two solo tackles apiece. They are still listed as co-starters. Both players have shown glimpses of being big talents this season. Their role on Thursday is very important, as North Carolina's Marquise Williams is a very mobile and athletic quarterback. Ejuan Price also had two tackles last week against the Orange, and he will need to dial up the pressure as well.
DT - 1. Darryl Render 2. Mark Scarpinato 3. Jeremiah Taleni
The defensive tackles did not have a great showing last week in the stat sheet. Render and Scarpinato both saw a good deal of game action, and we know both players can make plays when they come to them,
NT - 1. Tyrique Jarrett 2. Khaynin Mosley-Smith 3. Justin Moody
Neither Jarrett or Mosley-Smith put up much in the stat sheet last week. Jarrett was credited with a QB hurry. We have seen both of these guys make plays before, and plugging the middle will be key on Thursday.
Star Linebacker - 1. Nicholas Grigsby 2. Matt Steinbeck 3. Jameel Poteat
Nicholas Grigsby added to his strong senior campaign with five tackles (one for loss) last week. Grigsby has been as consistent as any Pitt defensive player this season.
Mike Linebacker - 1. Matt Galambos 2. Quintin Wirginis
Matt Galambos continues to be Pitt's big play linebacker. The junior came up with his second interception of the season. He also recorded five tackles, but impressively three of them went for loss. It's been a great stretch of games for Galambos lately.
Money Linebacker - 1. Bam Bradley 2. Mike Caprara 3. Jamal Davis II
Neither Caprara or Bradley posted much of anything on the stat sheet last week. I look for Bam Bradley to have a big bounce back game this week against the athletic Tar Heels.
CB - 1. Avonte Maddox Lafayette Pitts 2. Ryan Lewis Phillipie Motley OR Dennis Briggs
Avonte Maddox had a rough game last week. He gave up some big plays, and seemed to be outmatched by size alone. He was in position to make the plays, but simply was out-jumped for the ball. Lafayette Pitts came up with a big interception in the second half, his first pick of the season. I thought both guys did a nice job in run support, and their tackling had been impressive all season long.
SS - 1. Jordan Whitehead 2. Jevonte Pitts
Jordan Whitehead had seven tackles last week against Syracuse and continues to impress as a true freshman. He did have a dumb penalty on a punt return, in which he hit a defenseless receiver. In all honesty, it was one of the few noticeable freshman mistakes he has had all season.
FS - 1. Pat Amara JR OR Terrish Webb 2. Reggie Mitchell
Pat Amara and Terrish Webb are listed as co-starters this week. Both guys have done nice things this season, but a fully healthy Terrish Webb has been the better of the two. Mitchell continues to be day to day with his injury.
K - Chris Blewitt P - Ryan Winslow LS - David Murphy/Pat Quirin
Another week, another Chris Blewitt game winner for the Panthers. He is now 9-13 on the year after making three of his four attempts last week. The weather is starting to change in Western PA, and kicking at Heinz Field is going to start becoming an issue.
PR - Boyd/Maddox/Whitehead KR - Boyd/Maddox/Pitts/Ford
Tyler Boyd had three kick returns for 75 yards, one of his more productive days of the year.