QB - 1. Nate Peterman 2. Manny Stocker
Nate Peterman had a pretty ordinary game against Virginia. He was 11-21 for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards as well. He made some nice throws, but missed some pretty easy ones, including a sure touchdown on a flea flicker. I don’t think he played bad or anything, but he could have done some things better. Looking at the numbers on the season for Peterman, they are fairly solid and he’s running a tight ship. 11 touchdowns to two interceptions? I’m fine with that. I also like he’s able to get some yards on the ground as well. I still think he could be better, and with these next three games he might have to be.
RB - 1. James Conner 2. Chawntez Moss OR Darrin Hall OR Qadree Ollison
James Conner had a very nice game against Virginia. He rushed 20 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 28 yards. Conner is up to 531 rushing yards and 197 receiving yards on the season, which is good for eighth in the ACC in All Purpose Yards. It might not seem like it, but Conner is having a really nice season. It’s been slow at times, and it’s not like 2014, but he’s been key for this team.
Chawntez Moss continues to be the second running back in the rotation. He had some nice runs against Virginia, and has been strong since joining the regular rotation in week three. Ollison had one touch last week, while Darrin Hall hasn’t seen the ball since the North Carolina game.
FB - 1. George Aston 2. Jaymar Parrish
George Aston scored his fifth touchdown of the season in the Virginia game. He continues to be an important weapon near the goal line, and his versatility really opens up the offense as a whole.
WR - 1. Jester Weah Quadree Henderson 2. Aaron Mathews OR Maurice Ffrench Tre Tipton 3. Rafael Araujo-Lopes
Jester Weah caught two passes against Virginia, but the big one was a 38 yard touchdown in the first half. He now leads the team with 19 receptions, 402 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Weah has really stepped up this season, and I’m not sure anyone really expected it. We always heard about his talent, but it’s nice to see it translate to the games.
Tre Tipton had two receptions against the Cavaliers, and has seemingly emerged as the #3 option among the receivers. He has seemingly gotten more involved in the offense each and every week, and he is responding.
Beyond that, the other four receivers played against Virginia, but not one of them caught a pass. However, three of them carried the ball. Quadree Henderson wasn’t nearly as involved as usual, I think he was slightly dinged up but I would expect to see him at full strength Thursday. Araujo-Lopes and Ffrench both had some carries late in the fourth quarter, nothing major from either, but Lopes did break one for 12 yards. Aaron Mathews was in the game plan and was targeted a couple of times, but did not record a catch.
TE - 1. Scott Orndoff 2. Jaymar Parrish
Scott Orndoff has three catches for 25 yards in the UVA game. He is tied for second on the team in receptions with 17 and touchdown catches with 2. Orndoff has always been a reliable target, and he may need to come down with some big plays against the Hokies.
LT - 1. Adam Bisnowaty 2. Aaron Reese
LG - 1. Dorian Johnson 2. Carson Baker
C - 1. Alex Officer 2. Connor Dintino
RG - 1. Alex Bookser 2. John Guy
RT - 1. Brian O’Neill 2. Jaryd Jones-Smith
Pitt put up 346 yards of offense against Virginia. The Panthers also possessed the ball for 36 minutes and posted a season high 45 points. The offensive line has been a big part of the success of the team this season. Dorian Johnson got a few mentions of mid-season of being a mid-season All-America, and rightfully so. The line has been great in run blocking, and Nate Peterman generally has enough time to make his throws. Nobody is perfect, but I can’t imagine there are many lines as a whole better than Pitt’s.
DE - 1. Ejuan Price Rori Blair 2. James Folston Allen Edwards 3. Rashad Weaver
Ejuan Price leads the nation with 9 sacks, and is third in tackles for loss with 13. Price left the Virginia game with an apparent injury. It didn’t look major and I expect him ready to go for Thursday, not that the Pitt coaching staff would tell us anyway.
Rori Blair had a very big game with two sacks. He’s up to 3.5 on the season, which is second on the team. Pitt’s pass rush is key against Virginia Tech, and I think they may need 4 or 5 sacks to beat the Hokies.
DT - 1. Shakir Soto 2. Jeremiah Taleni 3. Amir Watts
A bit of a change here as Jeremiah Taleni rises to the #2 spot here. Taleni managed to get on the field for the first time against Virginia and recorded a tackle. The junior from Hawaii has only appeared in 15 games in his career, we’ll see what he can bring to the table.
NT - 1. Tyrique Jarrett 2. Shane Roy OR Mike Herndon
Tyrique Jarrett posted four tackles against UVA. He’s now up to 20 stops this year, which matches his season total from last season. He’s making less plays behind the line of scrimmage, but he’s making plays overall. His conditioning is also much better. Pitt is strong in runs up the middle, and he’s the main component in that.
Money LB - 1. Mike Caprara 2. Saleem Brightwell
We’ll see if Mike Caprara can get on the field this week. The senior has missed the last three games. Bam Bradley got the start last game, but he left with an injury. Could that mean more time for redshirt freshmen Saleem Brightwell?
Mike LB - 1. Matt Galambos 2. Quintin Wirginis
Galambos led Pitt with seven tackles against Virginia, and he is fourth on the team in tackles this season. Galambos is having a relatively solid senior season, but nothing outstanding. He seemed to make bigger plays last season with sacks, interceptions, ect. It would be nice to get a big play from him Thursday night. Fake punt anyone?
Star LB - 1. Seun Idowu 2. Bam Bradley
Idowu had six stops in the UVA game, as he has held onto this job since week two. I wonder if Caprara can return to game action, would that put some pressure on this position? Bradley had a sack against Virginia, and has been playing well recently. He deserves to be on the field, assuming he’s healthy himself.
CB - 1. Philipie Motley OR Avonte Maddox Ryan Lewis 2. Damar Hamlin Dane Jackson
The big thing here is the health of Avonte Maddox. He did not play in the UVA game, and we’re still not sure if he is playing. Motley started in his place, and handled himself alright. He gave up some big plays, but did knock down a few passes as well. I thought Dane Jackson did some nice things when he was on the field. Oh and, Damar Hamlin on the depth chart again. Is this the week?
FS - 1. Terrish Webb OR Reggie Mitchell
Terrish Webb left the Virginia game with an injury. It’s unclear if he will go as an injury is a guarded secret with this coaching staff. I expect Reggie Mitchell will get the reps, and I think he’s played well during his playing time this season.
SS - 1. Jordan Whitehead OR Reggie Mitchell 2. Dennis Briggs
Jordan Whitehead had his best game of the 2016 season. It wasn’t just the pick six, or the 28 rushing yards. He seemed more engaged in making tackles and plays then in previous weeks.
K - Chris Blewitt P - Ryan Winslow LS - Pat Quirin
Chris Blewitt missed a field goal for the first time since the Penn State game, and was 1-2 against Virginia.
KR/PR - 1. Quadree Henderson 2. Avonte Maddox
Quadree Henderson struck again for a kick return, the third of his career. Could he make a big special teams play on Thursday night? I wouldn’t bet against it.