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Pitt football coaches still not ready to determine winners of position battles

Photo used with permission of University of Pittsburgh athletics department -

The Pitt football coaches had another scrimmage to evaluate players but the hottest position battles still ongoing aren't yet settled. At least if they are, the coaches aren't saying so.

Overall, head coach Pat Narduzzi says he enjoys changing the depth charts every day in practice to give players something to aspire to:

“There’s been a lot of depth chart decisions made, but then again there is still another week of camp and a scrimmage on Friday. We try to make depth chart changes every day they are in pads. We want them to go out there with the attitude that ‘I’m getting better today and I’m going to beat somebody out.’ I like when our kids have to see that up-and-down variation. That will continue this week.”

On the surface, that sounds a little silly. After all, are teams changing depth charts after every practice during the season? But I don't really have a problem with that way of doing business and I get that the coaches want to push the players as much as possible. I would only question how much the depth chart is really changing in the minds of coaches. Are players really a starter one day, then not the next, the again on the third?

But hey, again, if it's keeping players motivated then it shouldn't necessarily bother anyone.

One spot where there's a vacancy is linebacker with one of the spots on the outside unsettled. Don't ask coach Rob Harley to name a starter there anytime soon, though. He isn't likely to even begin discussing it until the end of camp:

“We’re not close yet—not anywhere close yet. It’s a credit to these guys who are making it really hard on me. We’re going to roll guys. That’s the nature of the spread offense. We’re going to have to roll guys in constantly to keep them fresh. Guys are on the edges; the ball is on the edge; the ball is on the perimeter; guys are running fast. We’re going to be playing six guys, and it’s going to change weekly. Those guys know it, and they’re working. Again, it’s a credit to their effort that I can’t set the depth chart yet.”

Now last week, Pitt managed to name the top receivers. Harley, though, will not even provide a top six:

“That’s also in flux. There are two weeks left. I won’t get anywhere near set until [next] Monday. We’re rolling guys in, and we’re changing guys around to see what works. It’s kind of like line changes in hockey. You’re trying to see who works well together. Who makes the most plays together? Who’s productive together? Who communicates well together? We’re doing that right now. We’ve still got two weeks left. It’s close, but we’re just not there quite yet.”

Another open spot is at quarterback. Even though Narduzzi said after the team's recent closed scrimmage this weekend that he expected to find a backup to Nathan Peterman soon, that time isn't yet here:

“Everybody did some good things. From Nathan [Peterman] all the way down to [Thomas] MacVittie and Bo Schneider. We saw some good things. We still have two more weeks for clarity. There was good and bad out of everybody. Nathan was really sound. We’re still searching.”

And while star safety Jordan Whitehead said the secondary is coming together, there isn't any announcement there as to the cornerback spot opposite Avonte Maddox or the safety spot opposite himself.

My guess is that the coaches are getting close on these things despite what's out there publicly. The team is in its final week of camp and you really want to nail down starters before the week of the first game just so those players have a chance to gel with the first team units. I would guess things are a little closer than what it might appear right now simply because time is running out and coaches have had these guys in practice for two weeks now, in addition to any time they saw them in the spring and last year.

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