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Pitt vs. Akron: Breaking Down the Two-Deep

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Breaking down Pitt's depth chart heading into the Akron game.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback -   1.  Chad Voytik 2. Nathan Peterman

Chad Voytik had an underwhelming performance, but I'm not overly concerned with it just yet.  New Offensive Coordinator, Jim Chaney, didn't have a good game himself, and needs to trust his players, especially his starting quarterback.  Also, Pitt will suit up arguably the best receiver in college football this weekend, and that's an easy way to fix an anemic passing game.

Nathan Peterman had a scripted offensive appearance early in the game, and had mixed results. He's a nice depth option, but I don't see him ever taking the job from Voytik unless an injury.  I would be surprised if Peterman got any meaningful snaps this weekend, despite reports saying he will.

Running Back - 1. Qadree Ollison         2. Chris James OR  Darrin Hall

We all know about James Conner, and I'm not going to dwell on a topic that has been touched on extensively.  It leaves Qadree Ollison as the man listed as the starter, and I guess the nation's second leading rusher is a pretty good place to start. Ollison had a monster debut, and with Conner's injury, a new star may have been born. It will be interesting to see if he can follow up last week's performance.

Chris James still very well may be the best healthy back, assuming he is injury free. My guess he is listed as the backup because he could still be a little banged up from week one.  Darrin Hall had a rough afternoon, but the talent is obviously there. He is going to see an opportunity all season long to make a name for himself.

Fullback - 1. George Aston  2. Anthony Rippole

Nothing changes here for the fullbacks, Pitt did get Aston on the field in some situations and he played well.

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

Tyler Boyd is back, and the unit comes from shaky to fairly solid rather quickly.  Boyd alone can mask a lot of the problems this offense showed against Youngstown State.  It will be interesting to see how they use him against Akron. Dontez Ford hauled in a nice pass from Nathan Peterman, and should stand to benefit a good deal with Boyd attracting most of the attention from the receivers.

Beyond the starters, Elijah Zeise showed some promise and found himself on the field quite a bit on Saturday.  Tre Tipton was on the field, but did not record any catches. Pitt made it a point to get Quadree Henderson involved, and I suspect they will still have certain plays for him each week.  Jester Weah and Zach Challingsworth played some, but did not do much. The competition rages on behind Tyler Boyd for now.

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

JP Holtz did not register a catch on Saturday, but I still think he can have a big role in the offense, provide it the coaching staff and Voytik gets him involved. Scott Orndoff had one of the biggest plays of the day, but it may have been an accident. It looked like Voytik found Elijah Zeise with one on one coverage, and Orndoff kind of butted his way in and made the touchdown catch.  As predicted, Parrish played more of an H-Back/Blocking role.

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. Mike Herndon

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

Pitt's offensive line looks like it will be at full strength this week after some injuries caused some shuffling last week. The offensive line paved the way for 450 yards of total offense and 38 points. Pitt boats the second leading rusher in the nation, and that's coming from a player who many expected to be Pitt's fourth string running back.  Simply put, no matter if you are James Conner or Qadree Ollison, this line will give you a chance to gain yardage.  The pass protection needs to be better, but I think at full strength it will be a better performance this weekend against the Zips.

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

The Pitt Defensive Ends combined for three sacks in week one, a much higher rate of production than they had most of last year.  Add those performances with the return of Rori Blair, and there might be some hope for some solid play from this unit moving forward this season.

Rori Blair replaces Shakir Soto as a starter for now, but Soto will still continue to have a big role.  Ejuan Price remains in the starting pairing after a nice game against Youngstown State. Pitt substituted fairly liberally in week one, so it remains to be seen how the rotation will be this Saturday.  It is worth noting Zach Poker registered a sack in his first serious game action as a redshirt sophomore.

DT -  1. Khaynin Mosley-Smith OR Mark Scarpinato OR Darryl Render

Pitt lists all three players as starters for now.  Darryl Render was not used last week, and as one of the team captains, you would like to see him get it going. Scarpinato played a lot in his return to football, while Mosley-Smith contributed two assisted tackles.

NT - 1. Tyrique Jarrett    2. Jeremiah Taleni   3. Justin Moody

Tyrique Jarrett came up with a big sack early in the game, and was moving well for a bigger guy.  It goes to show you the coaching staff likes his ability and potential a lot, because at a time Mosley-Smith was in this role, and now he finds himself in a three way battle at the other spot.  It did not appear that Taleni and Moody played a ton, as neither registered any stats from Saturday.

Star Linebacker - 1. Nicholas Grigsby 2. Matt Steinbeck   3. Mike Caprara

It certainly looked like on Saturday that Pitt might have found a star for their defense in 2015.  Nicholas Grigsby was everywhere with 10 total tackles, 3 going for a loss, 2 sacks, a pass break up, and a QB hurry.  The senior from Ohio has always displayed potential and ability, but 2015 might be his breakout season. Look for Grigsby to have another big day this weekend.

Mike Linebacker -  1. Matt Galambos 2. Quintin Wirginis

Matt Galambos did not have a great game against Youngstown State. The junior middle linebacker posted four solo tackles, but appeared to be a step slow in a lot of situations. It will be worth watching how Narduzzi and Conklin monitor the situation, because this is such an important position.  Quintin Wirginis played some, and still looks like a promising young player. If Galambos continues to struggle, Wirginis could be in line for more reps.

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

Mike Caprara has a productive day, and found himself making a few plays.  Caprara appears to be a steadying force among the linebackers, he isn't going to dominate, but will make the plays in front of him. I still feel like Bam Bradley is destined for big things, and the junior showed some stuff on Saturday. Bam lived up to his name with one of the bigger hits of the day. Bradley is oozing with potential and eventually will take over this job full-time. No disrespect to Caprara, but I could see him taking more reps in the middle if that situation isn't resolved over time.  He won't get lost in the shuffle by any means.

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

I was as impressed with Avonte Maddox as Nicholas Grigsby, and he too could be an emerging star for this team. Maddox showed some great recovery ability, and played the ball very well. After a while, Youngstown State stopped attacking his side.

Lafayette Pitts did not have a bad game, but did commit a pass interference penalty and got beat a few times.  Pitts looked better than he did last year, but I think it's clear he's the number two guy in this scheme. Phillipie Motley made his college debut and held his own during the time Maddox was out with a minor injury.

Strong Safety -   1. Pat Amara Jr. OR Jordan Whitehead    2. Jevonte Pitts

I thought Jordan Whitehead did some very impressive things on Saturday, and showed what all the hype was about in week one. Whitehead anticipated plays well, made some good reads, and made solid open field tackles.  It's only a matter of time until this kid is a star.

Pat Amara Jr. continues to be a solid player for this program.  He isn't losing the job to Whitehead or anything right now, and he deserves to be out there himself.

Free Safety  1.  Reggie Mitchell 2. Terrish Webb

Reggie Mitchell looked solid when he was in there, but was banged up a little. He was held out in the second half, but it's clear Mitchell is one of the most valuable players to this defense.

One of Youngstown State's biggest plays was when Terrish Webb was beat on a pass.  Other than that, Webb looked solid, but I think it's clear Mitchell is the better of the two players right now. It is fair to note Webb is coming off an injury last season, and should improve.

Kicker - Chris Blewitt Punter  - Ryan Winslow     Long Snapper -  David Murphy AND Pat Quirin

Chris Blewitt went 1-2 in his field goals on Saturday, and he went 6-6 for extra points. Blewitt has been mostly solid in his career here, but it was not at all encouraging seeing him miss one early in the year.

KR  -   Tyler Boyd  Avonte Maddox  Lafayette Pitts    PR - Tyler Boyd  Avonte Maddox  Jordan Whitehead

Avonte Maddox showed his ability with a kickoff return for a touchdown.  He was a good one in high school, and will factor in the return game quite a bit this season.  The story here is that Tyler Boyd is now listed as the starter for both spots.  I think they will still rotate at times, but Boyd should be the main guy at punt returning.