Senior Jeff Otah, junior C.J. Davis and fifth-year senior Chris Vangas have started every game at left tackle, left guard and center, respectively, while a change was made to the right side due to sophomore tackle Jason Pinkston's health.
Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said that Pinkston is still not 100 percent healthy, but "he's better and practiced a little bit (Sunday) night. So, we'll see how he goes day-by-day.''
Fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn played right tackle against Connecticut, and sophomore Joe Thomas played right guard. McGlynn replaced Thomas at guard when he returned to game action after the opener. But the offensive line remained inconsistent and really hasn't improved this season.
"McGlynn jumped out there to right tackle,'' Wannstedt said, "and he needs to get settled back in. ... Chris Vangas is doing everything he can do at center. Jeff Otah is playing very well. C.J. Davis is playing (pause) good. The right guard spot, between McGlynn and Joe Thomas, he needs to pick it up.''
Wannstedt added that redshirt sophomore John Bachman, listed as the backup right tackle -- even though he played sparingly there after Pinkston got hurt at Michigan State -- will now be in the rotation at right guard since Thomas "has struggled since training camp,'' Wannstedt said.
"But the kid has been working hard. He is committed. It's not because of lack of effort or want-to, but when he gets into a game -- it's not due to lack of knowledge -- he has struggled to get the job done on a consistent basis. We're pushing him along and encouraging him, and that's all we can do.''
The only other backups listed on the depth chart are redshirt junior Chase Clowser at left tackle, redshirt junior Dom Williams at left guard and redshirt freshman Alex Karabin, a walk-on, at center. The only other options are freshmen Greg Gaskins, Jordan Gibbs and John Fieger, but they are being redshirted this year. Two other frosh, Chris Jacobson and Dan Matha, are injured and are also being redshirted.
"The one that we were expecting to be a player is out for the year, Chris Jacobson, but the rest of those kids are working hard and getting better,'' Wannstedt said. "Jordan Gibbs is playing O-line, but we moved him from tight end. Dan Matha was the next guy, with Jacobson, but he's out for the year.
"So, we've just to keep coaching those guys to get better, and they will. But we're reaching for some confidence right now, and the only way to get confidence is to get some results (on the field).''
Despite a two-game losing streak, however, Wannstedt noted that the Panthers have remained positive and look forward to turning things around. But no player was available for comment to confirm that.
"For me to stand here and try to explain the truth and what the real facts are, most people don't want to hear that,'' Wannstedt said. "You go out and try to have some success on the field, and then people will start believing. ... (But) our players are fine. Our defense knows that at this time last year, we weren't ranked in any categories. Right now, we're ranked somewhere between 7-9 categories nationally. ... So, our defense is excited about playing and getting better.
"We feel good about our special teams, Conor Lee and Dave Brytus, but that's the frustrating part. We feel good about a lot of things, our tight ends and receivers, but ... rather than having a junior quarterback in there in like Billy Stull that's feeling good and can utilize the talent, we've had to kind of pull back a little bit because of the freshman. The players understand that, and it's our job as coaches is to try to do the best that we can, under the circumstances, to win the football game.
"I showed (the players) six plays in the fourth quarter when it was (out of hand) where Oderick Turner killed himself to make a catch and is breaking tackles trying to score,'' Wannstedt added. "Nate Byham runs over two guys. Darrell Strong made a great catch on the sideline. Our defense gave up 62 yards the entire second half of the game. LaRod Stephens and LeSean made some great runs in the second half, effort runs, so we didn't get the points that we needed to win the game. But with eight minutes to go, we were playing as hard as if we were winning by 20, so if we give that effort, we'll get the other things squared away.''
Pitt also had 18 penalties in the past two games, but Wannstedt was hopeful that he had a remedy for that malady.
"We've got officials coming to practice,'' Wannstedt said, "but if there's repeated penalties -- one guy that keeps holding or committing personal fouls -- then you don't play them. That's how you correct it.''
Pinkston's Status Still Unknown
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