So Pitt's offensive line has been a topic of discussion. While there's depth, as I wrote heading into fall camp, pieces weren't yet in place. It's still early, but things seem to be falling into form quickly.
For now, head coach Pat Narduzzi is going with a line consisting of tackles Adam Bisnowaty and Alex Bookser, guards Dorian Johnson and Alex Officer, and center Artie Rowell. Left to right, it's Biz, Johnson, Rowell, Officer, and Bookser.
This could be Pitt's best line. Bisnowaty is a fixture at tackle and Johnson will pick up his spot at guard from last year. There was talk before about moving Rowell to guard, but he was formerly Pitt's starting center before his ACL injury and he's clearly capable there. Officer, who took up center in Rowell's place last year, is instead moved to guard and Bookser, slides from reserve guard to starting tackle this year.
Lots of moving parts, but there are several things to keep in mind here.
First, Bookser was previously a tackle (redshirted last year), so the position is nothing new for him. It's true that he'll have to get used to facing D-I defensive ends but he was a highly-touted kid as a recruit. As he notes, he's been a tackle for a long time:
"It’s early, but I’ve been playing right tackle for years," Bookser said. "Moving to guard was kind of tough, but I think it helped me with the physical aspects of my game. I think that I can help transition that physicality I got from guard, take it to tackle."
If the projections on him were correct, he'll be able to grow into that position. It might not happen right away (i.e. see Dorian Johnson), but you'd like to think he'll turn into a player.
Like Rowell, Officer had previous experience at guard, too. So while he played center last season, that position isn't anything new to him. It may take a little getting used to again, but it's not a completely foreign spot. And, obviously, Rowell is right at home at center.
On the backup front, as Sam Werner in the PG notes, a really noteworthy thing is that former tight end Brian O'Neill, who recently converted to the offensive line, already checks in as the second-team right tackle behind Bookser. That's not to say he'd be in there in Bookser's stead if he struggles since coaches could still shuffle things. But to be that high up on the depth chart already shows that the coaches are pretty high on him.
The key thing here is that the line retains a lot of starters. Three are gone from last season, but the Panthers actually return four starters when you consider that Rowell was the starter until going down with his injury and his replacement, Officer, is back as well. Bookser is the lone guy without starting experience and he was a four-star recruit.
Despite sustaining significant losses with T.J. Clemmings and Matt Rotheram graduating and the Jaryd Jones-Smith season-long injury, if it remains as is, the starting offensive line will be full of experience.
Just keep those guys healthy, coach.