It's Game Week

The Pitt football team finally gets a chance to put the nightmare that was a 3-0 loss in the Sun Bowl behind it when the 2009 season opens against Youngstown State at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

It's the 120th season for Panthers football, as they face the former Division I-AA Penguins, who now are in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Youngstown State, about 70 miles from Pittsburgh, won four national titles in the 1990s. The only previous meeting was a 41-0 Pitt win in 2005.

The Panthers have released their two-deep lineup, and their are some interesting developments. Senior Joe Thomas is listed as the starting left offensive guard ahead of redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson. Andfifth-year seniors Oderick Turner and Cedric McGee are listed as co-starters at flanker next to sophomore Jonathan Baldwin as the starting split end.

Fifth-year senior Bill Stull is the starting quarterback, and redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri is the backup. Junior Pat Bostick is not listed. While some might believe that's because it is a two-deep, there are three tight ends listed with seniors Nate Byham and Dorin Dickerson listed as the starter and backup. And redshirt freshman Mike Cruz in the No. 3 spot.

Freshman Dion Lewis is the starting tailback, and frosh Ray Graham is the backup. They are among 16 first- or second-year freshman on the two-deep on offense, defense and special teams.

On defense, sophomore Andrew Taglianetti and redshirt junior Elijah Fields are co-starters at free safety. Redshirt freshmen Jarred Holley (strong safety), Manny Williams (weak-side linebacker), Shayne Hale (left end) and freshman Dan Mason (middle linebacker) are listed as backups at their respective positions. Redshirt frosh Ryan Turnley is the backup right offensive guard.

Redshirt junior Dan Hutchins is listed as the starting punter and place-kicker, while redshirt junior Lucas Briggs is the kickoff specialist. The only scholarship player in competition for those spots, redshirt freshman place-kicker Kevin Harper, is the backup on field goals and kickoffs. However, Hutchins was awarded a scholarship today.

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Smith is the punt-returner, ahead of redshirt freshman Cameron Saddler. Saddler, sophomore Antwuan Reed, redshirt sophomore Aundre Wright and Lewis are the kickoff returners. Redshirt sophomore John Fieger is the long-snapper, and redshirt Andrew Janocko is the holder for the second straight year. Janocko was awarded a scholarship today.

Pitt has played seven FCS opponents previously, including a 34-10 win against Grambling in 2007, and is 7-0 in those contests. Former Pitt All-America linebacker Jerry Olsavsky, who starred for the Panthers from 1985-88, is on the YSU staff as the linebackers coach. Olsavsky is a Youngstown native and Chaney High School product.

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