Perhaps the biggest question heading into this week's game with Florida International, comes at the center position. While it might be assumed that Gabe Roberts will take over at center for Artie Rowell, he hasn't been given the official green light by head coach Paul Chryst. The coaching staff is pleased with Roberts, but it's clear they also don't believe in just handing someone a job. Even though in the case of Roberts, he was thrust into action on Friday night at Boston College, and did well. The coaching staff is setting a bit of a competition this week between Roberts and redshirt freshman Alex Officer.
"Hopefully, they'll both be better for going through this," offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said.
Rudolph even went as far to say that they would be comfortable rotating the two of them, if it came to it. Already this year, we've seen Jaryd Jones-Smith rotate in at left tackle, while starting left tackle Adam Bisnowaty moves in to left guard. Rudolph says the same type of rotation with Roberts and Officer is a possibility.
"I think that's a real possibility," Rudolph said. "The way this week finishes out, I wouldn't be against it."
A couple more things to keep an eye on this week:
* The development of Chad Voytik. Rudolph and head coach Paul Chryst are pleased with how Voytik has done in his first two starts. There might be a concern that because of how much Pitt has run the ball, it might take away some opportunities for Voytik. Rudolph simply likes what Voytik has been able to do in two starts.
"I can't say he's been in it--not a ton of opportutnies--but as those grow, he'll do a great job," Rudolph said. "He's responded well. He competes his tail off."
* Yesterday, defensive coordinator Matt House commented on the culture of the defense--how the senior leadership and some of the youth has meshed well. Rudolph explained his take on how the offense meshes. A similar way, yet different in a sense.
"I think it's a really nice nucleus that have been through a lot," Rudolph said. "T.J. (Clemmings) and Manasseh (Garner)--guys that have an interesting story. That senior group has been through a lot to get through this point. There's something about them, that they're here. A lot of times, it's by example."* Another thing to keep an eye on, is freshman Adonis Jennings. Rudolph talked pretty openly on Jennings' chances of seeing the field--something he can still see happening this year. But also where he stands in his development. A highly recruited player out of high school, you can tell Rudolph believes his ability can help the team. It's just a matter of when that time would be, and where might be able to apply it." "He missed a big chunk of fall camp with injury, and you wished he wouldn't--you wish you would have had him the whole time," Rudolph said. "You see things that he does that are just natural. He's one of those guys that just pops. The consistency, and lack of reps through fall camp weren't there, but we'll keep bringing him along. Right now, it's not the plan (to playing), but he's always preparing.
"I think he sees a group that has a couple seniors, and I think he knows there's a couple things he needs to work on, and I think he know he missed that chunk of time (in camp). He values the time he's working, learning the offense and growing."