The first-team Pittsburgh defense actually was intact despite various bumps and bruises to players the previous few days. The front line had sophomore Jabaal Sheard at left end, senior Rashaad Duncan at left tackle, redshirt junior Mick Williams at right tackle and redshirt sophomore Greg Romeus at right end.
The linebacking corps had redshirt junior Shane Murray at the weak-side spot, while fifth-year senior Adam Gunn is on the strong side. They flank fifth-year senior middle linebacker Scott McKillop.
The secondary consisted of juniors Aaron Berry (field) and Jovani Chappel (boundary) at cornerback, while fifth-year senior Eric Thatcher (free) and sophomore Dom DeCicco (strong) man the safety spots.
The offensive line was as expected with redshirt sophomore Jason Pinkston at left tackle, senior C.J. Davis at left guard, junior Robb Houser at center, junior John Malecki at right guard and junior Joe Thomas at right tackle.
Junior Bill Stull, despite sitting out the scrimmage with bruised ribs, is the starting quarterback. Senior Conredge Collins (fullback) and sophomore LeSean McCoy (tailback) are his backfield mates. The first-team tight end is junior Nate Byham, and the wideouts are fifth-year senior Derek Kinder and redshirt juniors Oderick Turner and Cedric McGee. Either a fullback, tight end or wideout will need to sit. The Panthers ran formations with three wideouts and no fullback, a fullback and no tight end and four wide receivers with neither of the others.
The second and third teams were a little trickier to ascertain, but we'll give it a shot. On the D-line, redshirt junior Gus Mustakas and junior Tommie Duhart are clear cut at the tackle spots and will rotate with the first-teamers, possibly even getting a start here or there. Redshirt junior Craig Bokor and redshirt freshman Myles Caragein are next in line at tackle.
At the end spots, redshirt sophomore Tyler Tkach and redshirt freshman Chas Alecxih appear to have the lead on redshirt freshmen Tony Tucker and Justin Hargrove for the backup spots. Doug Fulmer's injury created competition at the backup spots behind Sheard, but no positions have been switched as of yet.
The backup linebackers have been redshirt freshmen Tristan Roberts (weak), Max Gruder (middle) and Brandon Lindsey (strong), but back spasms have limited Lindsey lately and allowed another redshirt frosh, former running back Greg Williams, to step into his spot. Redshirt sophomore Nate Nix, freshman Shayne Hale and redshirt junior Steve Dell received less reps.
The secondary has become interesting after hamstring injuries to Berry and redshirt freshman Buddy Jackson, who had been competing with Chappel for the other corner spot. Berry is back and better than ever, but Jackson strained his groin trying to come back from the hamstring injury.
That allowed several other players, specifically freshman Jarred Holley and redshirt sophomore Ricky Gary to make a move into backup roles. Freshmen Antwuan Reed and Ronald Hobby, who was on the team this past spring, also played ahead of Jackson in the scrimmage. He was relegated to a mop-up role.
Redshirt sophomore Elijah Fields is backing up DeCicco, but both Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett have admitted that the top three safeties will be on the field at the same time more often than not and certainly Fields and DeCicco will get time together as well. Redshirt juniors Irvan Brown and Mike Toerper, along with freshman Andrew Taglianetti, were in backup safety roles in the scrimmage. But Taglianetti made a bigger impact, was recognized by Wannstedt, and likely will play on special teams this year.
The backup offensive line was considerably younger with redshirt freshman Jordan Gibbs at left tackle and freshman Lucas Nix on the right. Redshirt sophomore walk-on Alex Karabin is the backup center, while fifth-year senior Dom Williams and freshman Chris Jacobson are the backup left and right guards, respectively. Redshirt junior John Bachman and redshirt freshman John Fieger also are guards, while redshirt freshman Greg Gaskins is a third-team tackle with fifth-year senior Chase Clowser. Redshirt frosh Wayne Jones and redshirt sophomore Jared Martin are behind Karabin for the backup center spot.
Redshirt freshman Henry Hynoski is the backup fullback, but he and Collins believed they both could get playing time and more touches this season. Senior LaRod Stephens-Howling is the backup tailback, but redshirt frosh Shariff Harris is likely to get some touches as well. Harris has moved ahead of redshirt sophomore Kevin Collier, and freshman Chris Burns is pushing Collier from behind for a more prominent role in the future after redshirting this year.
Junior Dorin Dickerson is Byham's backup, mostly due to an injury to redshirt junior John Pelusi. The second set of three receivers includes junior T.J. Porter, redshirt freshman Aundre Wright and freshman Jonathan Baldwin. Redshirt freshman Aaron Smith appears to be the No. 7 wideout, while freshman Cam Saddler is getting an MRI test on his injured left knee today. The preliminary news is not good. If Saddler needs surgery he'll certainly redshirt this year.
Fifth-year seniors Conor Lee (place-kicker), Dave Brytus (punter) and Mark Estermyer (long-snapper) are the specialists.
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