Coach Speak: Hueber, Rudolph

Jim Hueber is certainly pleased with the way his offensive line rebounded on Saturday against Old Dominion. This was also a game with one starter out, and some injuries to a couple backups. At the same time, Joe Rudolph is looking for more production out of his offense.

It was a good day for the Pitt offensive line. The unit had been dogged after allowing 15 sacks in its previous two games combined, while the running game provided just 31 total rushing yards in its previous two games.

The offense responded with a season-high 266 rushing yards against Old Dominion with four rushing touchdowns, Isaac Bennett coming through with 230 of those on 30 carries.

Individually speaking, fifth-year senior Ryan Schlieper made his first start of the season at left guard. Schlieper was filling in for fellow senior Cory King, out with a back ailment. It was Schlieper's first game in more than a year. His last start was October 13 of last year in a win over Temple. He suffered a foot injury in that game, and was lost for the year.

"He played a lot of football for us last year," offensive line coach Jim Hueber said. "He met our expectations. We didn't want him to miss a beat, and I don't think he did."

Hueber also says this isn't a first-time starter coming in, either.

"I don't know that we'll turn him in to Rudy, or anything like that," Hueber joked. "He embraced the role as the backup guy (at the beginning of the season). He never misses anything. He's always there."

With Gabe Roberts out with a shoulder injury, Schlieper is also filling in as the backup center.

While Hueber is impressed with how his group responded in its list game, Hueber is impressed with another player from an individual standpoint, Matt Rotheram.

Rotheram started at right tackle last year, before moving inside to right guard this year. Though his confidence never wavered in Rotheram this year, there was a point where he wondered if Rotheram's strength was truly at right tackle. After watching him this past week, he thinks Rotheram is set at guard.

"I think Matt has really stepped up and embraced it," Hueber said. "At first, I think he wished he would have stayed at tackle. Now, some of the nuances are coming to him. I think he's done a very good job."

Still, the passing game would like to get back on track. It's been three games since the performance at Duke where Tom Savage completed more than 66 percent of his passes, throwing for 424 yards and six touchdowns. That was all in one game. In the three games since then, Savage has completed 37-78 (47.4%) of is passes for 482 yards and two touchdowns. The good news is no interceptions in the last two games.

Still, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph is looking for more production in the passing game.

"I think there's a lot of things that go into it," Rudolph said. "(Savage) is working hard at getting the ball out when he needs to. I think we're trying to be smart at utilizing productions. Tom is doing what you want him to do. He's come along, and he's working with it. He's going to be fine."


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