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Pitt vs. Virginia Tech: Breaking Down the Two-Deep

Examining the depth chart heading into the Virginia Tech game.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

QB -   1. Nathan Peterman 2. Chad Voytik

It may have taken longer than expected, but Pitt finally has named a starting quarterback.  Nate Peterman threw two interceptions in week three against Iowa, he took some bad sacks, and missed some open receivers. Aside from all of that, he led Pitt on one of the most impressive late game drives in recent memory by a Pitt quarterback to tie the game. He showed poise and marched the team down the field in a high pressure situation. Peterman made some big-time throws, but consistency is going to be an issue with him for the foreseeable future.

Chad Voytik didn't really get an equal look in the Iowa game. The offense seems to totally change when Voytik is in the game, but with two weeks to prepare for this game, perhaps they have a better idea on how to use both players.  Peterman is the guy as it seems now, but Voytik's mobility should give him a role on this team also. Voytik rushed for 118 yards in last year's win against Virginia Tech, and I expect him to see some plays on Saturday.

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

Pitt seems to be a bit unsettled with the running back position as of right now as Anson mentioned earlier.  I think the talent is there, but the coaching staff seemed to abandon the run last week. On top of that, the play calls on running plays seemed questionable and bizarre. I think refocusing on the running game will be a point of emphasis this week.

Qadree Ollison is the team's leading rusher, but he only touched the ball six times against the Hawkeyes.  He's the power back in this offense, and if Pitt wants to establish the run, Ollison will be the guy they need to get involved early. It surfaced yesterday that Chris James sustained a concussion against Youngstown State, which would explain his limited use the past two games. If he is fully healthy, James is potentially the most talented back among these three players battling for carries.

Darrin Hall got the majority of the reps last week, and he did OK.  It is clear Jim Chaney believes Hall is the best receiving threat among the backs, and his role may be most suited on third downs.  On the other hand, Pitt was not afraid to start the true freshman against Iowa on the road. I believe the hot hand will play, and that could change throughout the season many times.

FB - 1. George Aston    2. Anthony Rippole

George Aston recorded his second reception of the season last week. Aston proves to be a capable safety valve out if the backfield in the passing game.

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

Tyler Boyd has hauled in 21 receptions in his two games this season. He ranks fourth in the ACC in receptions despite playing in two less games than the other leaders. Boyd is typically going to be the best player on the field potentially in every game he plays this season, and he is definitely the steadying force in an offense that is going through some growing pains.

Dontez Ford came down with two big catches against Iowa, and perhaps he is taking strides to be that alternate option aside from Tyler Boyd.  Ford has the size, and showed off some strength by breaking some tackles after contact.  Outside of Ford, though, the other names did not do anything against Iowa. Pitt is still playing a guessing game each week. Virginia Tech will pressure the Pitt quarterbacks this week, and quick underneath routes could be a great way to offset that. Look for Henderson and Tipton to get a chance to shine.

TE -  1. J.P. Holtz 2. Scott Orndoff   3. Jaymar Parrish

The Iowa game was the second straight week JP Holtz came down with three catches, and his role appears to be firm in this offense.  With the questions all around the offense, it is clear that Pitt can trust Holtz to make some plays.  He came down with one of the biggest catches of the game, on fourth down during Pitt's final scoring drive. Scott Orndoff caught one pass, but it was for a touchdown. He, too, can be a reliable option with the receiver situation being what it is.

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 rolled up 282 yards of total offense last week, a pretty modest showing overall. The running game failed to get going at all, but as I mentioned before, I thought the game plan on offense was puzzling. The pass protection came and went, but I thought they did a nice job in the second half. The line will be tasked this week going up against Virginia Tech, as the Hokies are widely considered to have one of the best defensive lines in the country.

Personnel wise, there is one major change. Brian O'Neill is now the starting right tackle, and he does not have an "OR" next to his name.  Alex Bookser is now listed as the top backup to him, and also at right guard as well.  Bookser still plays quite a bit, but for now O'Neill is given the distinction as the starter.

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

Neither starter made a big impact in the game against Iowa. Ejuan Price went down with an injury, and Pitt's pass rush certainly seemed to suffer.  Shakir Soto and Zach Poker both posted three tackles apiece and played two of the better games of their careers.  Blair and Price will look to rebound this week, and hopefully Pitt can make some noise in the pass rush department.  Virginia Tech employs a mobile quarterback, so keeping it contained is going to be an uphill battle all day long.

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

Darryl Render picked up a tackle against Iowa in the team's last game. He is one of Pitt's most important defensive players, and will be counted on to have a big game this week against Virginia Tech's rushing attack.  Mark Scarpinato and Jeremiah Taleni both rotated into the action last week.

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

Tyrique Jarrett has been Pitt's most consistent player on the defensive line.  Jarrett has shown off surprising speed and quickness with a man of his size, and could be a factor on Saturday.  Mosley-Smith has been playing the other spot, and moves back to nose tackle this week.  He did not see any action last game, but Narduzzi seems hopeful he is ready to go this week.

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

Nicholas Grigsby is up to 16 total tackles for the year, three going for loss, with two sacks. He is having an incredibly successful senior season. Grigsby will be active Saturday with all the things Virginia Tech will throw at this defense.

Mike Linebacker  - 1. Matt Galambos  2. Quintin Wirginis

Matt Galambos had his best game of the season last week, and hopefully he is turning the corner under new coaching. The junior linebacker turned in one of the biggest plays of the game with an 11-yard sack on a bone-crushing hit that nearly resulted in a Pitt score. Quintin Wirginis got into the act this week, and the true sophomore proved his worth with three tackles.

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

Bam Bradley turned in 1.5 tackles for loss with four tackles overall last week against Iowa. The junior outside linebacker proves to be one of Pitt's most explosive and dynamic players on this defense.  Mike Caprara still is earning the "OR" starting job, and he posted three total tackles last week.  Both guys can stand in there and make plays when needed.

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

Avonte Maddox broke up one pass, but was rarely tested in the passing game against Iowa. The big surprise was how well Maddox tackled, and the support he gave in the run game.  The 170-pound sophomore cornerback churned out nine tackles, and made some big hits.

Lafayette Pitts had some rough points during the game, but handled his own in others. It seemed a lot of his issues happened on one drive, in which he committed a penalty and allowed a big completion.  Also a big shoutout  Ryan Lewis for blocking the punt against Iowa.

Strong Safety -   1. Jordan Whitehead  2. Jevonte Pitts

It's becoming pretty clear that Jordan Whitehead is on his way to being the next star here at Pitt. Whitehead is playing really good football three games into his career. He has been good in run support, and will need to be again this weekend.

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

There are not many Panthers playing better than Terrish Webb right now.  He came up with a big interception at Iowa, and he has been playing really solid football after his season was cut short to injuries last year.  Webb has been a nice surprise in 2015.

Pat Amara came up with a scoop and score after the blocked punt last week, and he is one that always seems to find big plays.  Pitt should see Reggie Mitchell this week after dealing with some injuries in the early part of the season.

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

Chris Blewitt made his only field goal attempt on Saturday, and is now 3-5 on the season.

KR - 1. Boyd 2. Maddox 3. Pitts  4. Ford       PR - 1. Boyd 2. Maddox  3. Whitehead

Not much going in the way of the return game last week, but obviously Pitt has an explosive set of guys capable of taking them the distance.