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Breaking Down the Two Deep: Pitt vs. Oklahoma State

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A few changes this week on Pitt’s depth chart

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

  1. Max Browne 6’5” 230 Senior
  2. Ben DiNucci 6’2” 220 Sophomore

Is there a quarterback controversy? No....not yet. Max Browne is Pitt’s quarterback, and he should be, as it is too early to abandon him as the starter. He has been underwhelming in two starts, but in Browne’s defense, his receivers have dropped some easy passes and his line has not been playing well. Still, he has botched some throws, he has made bad decisions, and has turned the ball over. Browne has talent, but it has not been display much. You see glimpses, but that’s it. He needs to be more consistent.

Ben DiNucci had Pitt’s lone touchdown on Saturday following Browne’s brief exit due to losing his helmet. DiNucci looked pretty good, and made some plays in mop up duty late in the game. He is the more mobile quarterback between him and Browne, and that’s something to consider. He isn’t the starter, but we may see more DiNucci moving forward this season, and should Browne falter, he may get a chance to start.

Running Back

  1. Qadree Ollison 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Chawntez Moss 5’11” 210 Sophomore
  3. Darrin Hall 5’11” 220 Junior

A bit of a new look here as Chawntez Moss is listed as the main #2 back after not appearing on the depth chart last week. Moss carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards on Saturday and had a couple of nice runs. Moss outperformed Ollison and Hall last year, so it’s nice to see he’s another capable playmaker for this offense after sitting week one.

Qadree Ollison had a very strong game against Penn State in my opinion. He had 15 carries for 96 yards and caught two passes for 30 yards. Ollison had a couple of 30+ yard plays and moved the chains on Saturday. Hall provided some carries on Saturday, and did not do too much.

AJ Davis did not see any carries after scoring a touchdown in his college debut against Youngstown State.

Wide Receiver

  1. Jester Weah 6’3” 210 SR // Quadree Henderson 5’8” 190 JR // Maurice Ffrench 5’11” 190 Sophomore.
  2. Aaron Mathews 6’4” 205 SO // Rafael Araujo-Lopes 5’9” 190 JR
  3. Ruben Flowers III 6’3” 205 FR

Pitt is listing three starting wide receivers this week and no fullback. Maurice Ffrench is now listed as the third starter alongside Weah and Henderson.

Jester Weah caught 6 passes for 65 yards on Saturday against Penn State. He had a few drops, and it was a bit of a disappointing performance for Weah. Pitt did not have many advantages on Saturday, but getting Weah one on one should have been one of them.

Quadree Henderson was mostly a non-factor on Saturday and likely had one of the worst games of his career. I look for him to turn it around this week, because Pitt really needs him to do so.

Araujo-Lopes hauled four passes last week, a career high for him. Ffrench and Mathews also made some plays. Pitt’s offense has been mostly stagnant this season, it would be nice for someone to breakout this week.

Tight End

  1. Matt Flanagan 6’6” 260 Senior
  2. Chris Clark 6’6” 260 Junior
  3. Devon Edwards 6’4” 175 Senior

Matt Flanagan brought down three passes for 19 yards last week. He is now up to 5 catches this season, after only having caught 6 passes total last year for Rutgers. Chris Clark had a very notable drop in this game, as it was a 3rd and 22 and he was unable to break down a pass that not only would have given Pitt a first down, but it would have set Pitt deep into Penn State territory. Pitt needs Clark to play like the top recruit he was billed as out of high school.

Left Tackle

  1. Brian O’Neill 6’6” 305 Junior
  2. Tony Pilato 6’5” 320 Sophomore

Left Guard

  1. Alex Officer 6’4” 340 Senior
  2. Mike Herndon 6’4” 310 Junior

Center

  1. Jimmy Morrissey 6’3” 300 Freshman
  2. Connor Dintino 6’3” 315 Junior

Right Guard

  1. Alex Bookser 6’6” 315 Junior
  2. Brandon Hodges 6’4” 315 Senior

Right Tackle

  1. Jaryd Jones-Smith 6’7” 320 Senior
  2. Jerry Drake 6’5” 315 Freshman

Pitt’s line gave up five sacks against Penn State. They also had a number of plays blown up against them. And yet still, they played well at times as they were able to control the line of scrimmage and keep the offense on the field.

Pitt used some different rotations and combinations, but they found a groove at different points of the game. I was a little disappointed with Officer’s play, and Jones-Smith did not play all that well. Still, they played well enough, but there’s still room to improve.

Defensive End

  1. Dewayne Hendrix 6’4” 260 Junior OR Rashad Weaver 6’5” 265 Freshman // Allen Edwards 6’5” 255 Senior
  2. James Folston Jr. 6’4” 250 Junior

Patrick Jones II 6’5” 245 Freshman

Dewayne Hendrix finally made a big play, and that’s something we all have been waiting for. Hendrix recorded his first sack in a Pitt uniform as he used his speed to blow by a Penn State linemen to take down McSorely in the first half. It was a long time coming, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

Pitt needs more production from their ends, and there is no denying that. Still, I thought overall Pitt got some pressure on McSorely which led to some poor throws. Obviously you want to see them finish some sacks, but pressure is still effective.

Nose Tackle

  1. Shane Roy 6’4” 280 Junior
  2. Kam Carter 6’4” 295 Sophomore
  3. Rashad Wheeler 6’3” 290 Freshman

Defensive Tackle

  1. Keyshon Camp 6’4” 290 Freshman
  2. Amir Watts 6’3” 285 Sophomore
  3. Jaylen Twyman 6’2” 315 Freshman

The only significant change here is that Kam Carter moved from third team to second team. Carter made a really nice tackle for loss in the Penn State game as he set down Barkley for a loss. Carter is a wild card for this Pitt defense, and could be a player that only improves.

Like the ends, they need to provide more production, but the tackles have done some positive things. It is a young unit with room for improvement. Given Oklahoma State’s up-tempo style, expect a lot of rotations up front.

Money Linebacker

  1. Elijah Zeise 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Jalen Williams 6’2” 215 Junior

Mike Linebacker

  1. Saleem Brightwell 6’0” 220 Sophomore
  2. Chase Pine 6’2” 240 Freshman

Star Linebacker

  1. Seun Idowu 6’0” 225 Junior
  2. Anthony McKee Jr. 6’2” 215 Sophomore
  3. Rimoni Dorsey 6’0” 195 Sophomore

I thought Pitt’s linebackers played well relatively speaking. Yeah they gave up a few plays during Penn State’s early flurry of points, but beyond that, they did some good things. Seun Idowu recorded three tackles for loss and brought down Saquon Barkley in a few one on one situations, and that’s not easy to do.

Elijah Zeise remains a work in progress, but he seemed to be better after a rough game against Youngstown State. He’s an athlete, and he’s still adjusting to the position, but at least he’s showing some positive signs. Brightwell had an alright game with three tackles, with one for loss.

Pitt has not substituted much at linebacker, but I do believe I saw Chase Pine out there for a few plays.

Cornerback

  1. Avonte Maddox 5’9” 180 Senior // Dane Jackson 6’0” 180 Sophomore OR Damarri Mathis 5’11” 185 Freshman
  2. Jason Pinnock 6’0” 190 Freshman // Therran Coleman 6’0” 195 Freshman
  3. Malik Henderson 6’0” 190 Sophomore

Pitt’s corners did a nice job last week (imagine saying that after last year), but they actually did. Barkley and Gesicki were Penn State’s leading receivers, and the actual wide receivers did not really hurt Pitt all that much. It will be a lot different this week as Oklahoma State arguably has the best group of receivers in the country.

Dane Jackson recorded an interception on a jump ball to end the first half, but aside from that I think he has been playing a lot better this season, and he’s been holding off Damarri Mathis even though they are listed as co-starters.

The big thing on this week’s depth chart is the addition of Therran Coleman. He was a big time recruit that had a lot of people excited when he signed, and perhaps he can make his college debut this week.

Strong Safety

  1. Dennis Briggs 5’10” 195 Junior
  2. Phil Campbell 6’1” 195 Freshman
  3. Henry Miller 6’3” 205 Freshman

Free Safety

  1. Bricen Garner 6’1” 180 Freshman OR Jazzee Stocker 6’2” 190 Sophomore
  2. Damar Hamlin 6’1” 190 Sophomore

Well look what we have here, Damar Hamlin is on the two-deep. Pitt’s prized recruit from the 2016 class has had a tough time staying healthy in his young career, but he could be a big boost this week. Also don’t forget Jordan Whitehead is coming back next week. This could be a strong unit very soon.

Don’t sleep on Bricen Garner though. He has played really well this season and may maintain his starting job when Whitehead comes back. Whitehead will start when he’s eligible, but he may start at Strong Safety instead. The way Garner is playing, I don’t want to take him off the field. Brigg has struggled in the early going this season.

Kicker - Alex Kessman 6’3” 190 Freshman

Punter - Ryan Winslow 6’6” 225 Senior

Long Snapper - Cal Adomitis 6’1” 210 Freshman

Alex Kessman made both of his field goal attempts on Saturday, and that’s a big relief moving forward for Pitt. Winslow did some solid punting on Saturday as well.

Kick Returner - Quadree Henderson // Maurice Ffrench

Punt Returner - Quadree Henderson // Avonte Maddox

It seemed like Quadree Henderson was trying to do too much against Penn State. He made a lot of poor decisions in the return game and cost Pitt field position a few times.