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Pitt depth chart at running back still unsettled

The Panthers are still shuffling players around behind James Conner

NCAA Football: Penn State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Workhorse James Conner sits atop the Pitt running back depth chart - that much we know. But through three games, little else is settled.

On a team where there isn’t a clear cut No. 2 option, the Panthers have three options. And good luck in trying to figure out who the top one is from week to week.

Through the first two games, last year’s starter, Qadree Ollison, looked like that guy. His 16 carries were more than the ten given to Darrin Hall and he was used a decent amount with modest success (66 total yards). But after Hall recorded just over eight yards per carry against Penn State, he was given primary backup duties this weekend against Oklahoma State. But after underwhelming a bit on the few carries he did have (five for 17 yards), you have to wonder what’s next.

Also now in the mix is true freshman Chawntez Moss. Moss was out for the first game, leading people to wonder if he would redshirt. But he played against Penn State and this past weekend, registered his for two carries of the season.

Ollison, by the way, didn’t get any carries.

Narduzzi’s big concern is making sure Conner gets time to rest up. “We got Chawntez Moss and Darrin Hall in the game,” Narduzzi said. “It’s just a matter of not wearing out your dog. We want to get all of those guys involved. Qadree [Ollison] was out there quite a bit. Maybe he didn’t get the carries, but that’s all based on the read and what we are doing on that play and what they are doing defensively. It’s about being unselfish and doing what you need to do. We had some decent runs from all the guys back there. We need to keep guys fresh. James [Conner] gets tired. We have to keep him fresh.”

The strategy about using everyone seems to be one that Narduzzi has mentioned before - playing the hot hand. Personally, I’m fine with that given that they can produce. This strategy doesn’t bother me too much, but my concern would be if those guys are going to be able to establish any sort of consistency if they are playing sparsely. Carries are already sort of hard to come by with Conner in there and if you have guys not having any carries, I’m just not sure if that makes it harder for them.

As long as Pitt gets quality rushes out of those guys, I don’t care who is in there. But if they continue with only modest success, you almost start to wonder if they’d be better off picking a No. 2 guy and letting him run with the job for a while.

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