Todd Graham held the first of his weekly press conferences on Monday. While Graham talked about how excited he was to kickoff the season, how proud he was of his team, and how excited he is to see the fans on Saturday—the biggest thing on everyone's mind was the first official depth chart of the season.
It's usually the number-one thing on every college football fan's mind, but Monday's Pitt depth chart included several players who are now in position to make their first career starts.
Among them are two finalized spots on the offensive line; redshirt sophomore Juantez Hollins at left tackle, and junior Ryan Turnley at center. Hollins has never played in a college game, while Turnley has played in 17 games the last two seasons—will make his first start. Though the first-team offense lists 13 total positions (three receivers, a fullback, a tight end and an h-back all included), five of the offensive players listed have never started a game.
On defense, the most notable first-team slot was Andrew Taglianetti as a co-starter with redshirt freshman Todd Thomas at the Spur position. Thomas and Greg Williams battled it out in training camp for the starting job. Later in the first week of training camp, Thomas began to see the majority of the reps with the first team. Taglianetti came in on some packages, appearing as an extra defensive back—similar to the way Dom DeCicco did last season. Graham acknowledged that similarity, but also said that while he thinks highly of Taglianetti, there's not too much to read into.
"Andrew Taglianetti is a winner," Graham added. "In every way, a kid that does everything right. He's more of a nickel spur. You're going to see him in the game; if it's ten personnel, 11 personnel sets like that. He's not a base down spur like Todd Thomas and Greg Williams. He is a starter in my mind, and he is a backup bandit, at safety."
Sticking with that linebacker position, Max Gruder—the most experienced of all linebackers with 26 career starts, is a co-starter at the WILL position with fellow senior Tristan Roberts. Redshirt sophomore Shane Gordon is all by himself as the first-teamer at SAM, backed up by true freshman LaQuentin Smith.
"I think Shane's had a tremendous camp," Graham added. "We consider all three of those guys starters. You'll see all three of them play. Max and Tristan, tremendous experience. Gordon, tremendous physical talent."
Then, there were freshmen Lafayette Pitts and Lloyd Carrington—both of whom worked at the second-team corner positions for much of training camp. They are now listed as backups at the bandit safety position. Graham expanded a little more on his cornerback position—citing that he's comfortable with Antwuan Reed, K'Waun Williams and Buddy Jackson as starters (Reed and Williams slated for first-team duty this week), while it looks like there's a better shot at the field for Pitts and Carrington at safety. Though he also said Taglianetti can backup at safety, on paper, it's a move that also looks to fit if Taglianetti is at the Spur.
"Lafayette is going to play boundary corner and bandit safety," Graham added. "We're trying to bring him along. Kind of how we develop those guys is we play with boundary and field (corners). Right now, (Pitts) is taking most of the snaps at bandit safety, and has been progressing very well. He's a guy I think is going to help us out this year.
"He's done very well at corner. We're pretty solid there with the three guys we've got at the corner position. We want to provide a little depth at safety. The bandit safety is going to be his primary position."
Graham wasn't done yet. When asked about who would be the first quarterback to go in for Tino Sunseri, he answered that freshman walk-on Trey Anderson would. Though it might not make sense to put a true freshman in, let alone a walk-on, Graham and the rest of the coaching staff maintains that Anderson has been a pleasant surprise thus far. It may make a difference in an actual game situation, but for today, Graham said that Anderson would get the nod as the number-two quarterback.
"Trey Anderson would probably be the first guy in the game (after Tino Sunseri)," Graham said. "It depends on the situation, but it's either (Anderson) or (Mark Myers). Those guys have battled tremendously through camp, but we have a lot of confidence in both of those guys. It just depends on the situation. There are very different and diverse set of skills. Mark has got a tremendous arm; great thrower, accurate with the deep ball. Trey does a good job operating, very accurate with his intermediate passing game. He can throw the ball as well. The first guy, if something happened, would be Trey."