For his first career start, Brandon Lindsey responded to the challenge by finishing with two sacks in Pitt's 38-16 win over New Hampshire. Even in the loss to Utah, Lindsey was the most consistent of Pitt's defensive ends at getting pressure on the quarterback. Jabaal Sheard could not get any pressure on Jordan Wynn that night, and in hindsight, we now know that Romeus was still bothered by what is being classified as a disc problem.
Lindsey will make the start against Miami, his second start in place of Romeus. Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt sees it as an opportunity for Lindsey, and has already had a talk with Lindsey about the importance of his play from here on.
"Last week, we know Greg wasn't going to play," Wannstedt said. "Brandon looks at it as an opportunity."
In addition to having faith in Lindsey, Wannstedt says a couple other players behind Lindsey and Sheard will be asked to step it up. They have an advantage for being in the program for awhile, and now have an opportunity to play on the main stage. He cites this opportunity the defensive ends are about to embark on, as a reason to come play at Pitt.
"Nate Nix has been around here five years, Justin Hargrove has been around here five years," Wannstedt said. "It's going to be a combination of guys, the way we rotate players. They all bring a little something different to the table. I know they'll miss Greg--there's no doubt about that. They'll want him back, there's no doubt about that. Our kids, they all came here, with the opportunity of getting to play, and now they will."
Then, there's two unfortunate situations--on opposite sides of the spectrum--for a pair of Pitt freshman. One would be in an ideal situation, had it not be for an injury. The other is unfortunate, in the sense that he has to lose a redshirt.
Bryan Murphy broke his foot after the first scrimmage on August 14. He had surgery the following week, and would be out for the next six weeks. In his case, had he stayed healthy, right now would be a golden opportunity for him to come in and contribute. Murphy was also picking things up in camp quickly, meaning another month in the system to this point, and he would be ready to go.
"(Murphy) is still a couple weeks away (from returning)," Wannstedt said. "He was the guy in training camp, we felt would be a contributor, and be in the rotation in the defensive line. He broke the bone in his foot. He's still a couple weeks away, so the plan is still to redshirt him."
It was Wannstedt's hope, until now, to redshirt T.J. Clemmings. Now, he knows he has to use Clemmings, even though there are four defensive ends ahead of Clemmings, as it would seem on the depth chart. It does sound like Wannstedt has a lot of confidence in Clemmings' ability to come in and help--moreso than a couple of the veterans ahead of him.
"T.J. Clemmings will get in the mix, not as a starter, but in the rotation," Wannstedt said. "We'll start getting him some practice time, some playing time."
One guy he overlooked, in the whole mix, is sophomore defensive end Shayne Hale. After speaking of Clemmings, Wannstedt went back to talk about Hale's role in the rotation.
"Shayne's been giving good effort," Wannstedt said. "From a evaluation standpoint, he just hasn't progressed to the point right now. Shayne is eligible to play. I'm not saying that he wouldn't play. I made reference to T.J. because he was a guy I think we were expecting to redshirt, and I don't see that happening now."
Though Lindsey will get the start, which is a golden opportunity to prove himself as a starter, this will be a group effort on the part of all of Pitt's defensive ends, as they look to fill the void left by Romeus' absence.
"Guys will step up, yes," Wannstedt said. "Because of experience, you don't replace first-round picks overnight. Guys will step up and do a collective effort. Guys will find a way to get the job done until Greg gets back."