Two Deep Has Some Intrigue

Although the Cincy game is less than a week away, there are a handful of positions without no clear starter. Some of the positions that might be a game time decision are left guard, weakside LB and quarterback.

With head coach Greg Schiano opening up competition at left guard by putting an "or" between Howard Barbieri and Caleb Ruch on the depth chart, nothing has changed in the minds of the players.

Barbieri, who has played well enough in camp to open up the competition, said that he is happy to have a chance to start, but is not changing his approach because of it.

"It hasn't changed things," Barbieri said on opening up competition with Ruch. "I've still gotten to know all of the positions so it's just about getting better wherever I'm needed."

"I'm going to go anywhere I can to help the team," Barbieri said. "If Coach thinks that I'll be most helpful at a certain position, then that's where I want to play.

The competition has helped Barbieri get better, he said, as he and Ruch have worked together to improve.

"We've always worked well together and helped each other out, even last year when it wasn't really a competition," he said. "We're all like that though. We all play together so we try to watch each other and help everyone out." After spending most of his life preparing to play quarterback, redshirt freshman D.C. Jefferson has had to slam on the brakes and transition to his new position of tight end.

After just a handful of practices at training camp at the position, Jefferson has managed to crack the two-deep at the position.

"I think there will be a couple guys by situation that will be the second tight end," Schiano said. "He'll be the second tight end to go in the game sometimes. I think it will be a limited package. You can't possibly know the entire offense in whatever it is, six days. There's certain things he'll be able to do, certain things the other guys will do. Hopefully we'll patch it together."

Along with Jefferson at backup tight end are a trio of true freshmen in Malcolm Bush, Paul Carrezola and Tony Trahan, but Jefferson still has a playbook advantage because of his redshirt season.

"I think he's getting there. He's trying to learn," said senior quarterback Dom Natale. "He knows a lot of the passing stuff obviously. The guy's an athlete. He's a heck of an athlete. There aren't a lot of guys that can do the things he can do athletically at his size. He'll be just fine." Schiano also discussed the challenges of facing 6-foot-6 quarterback and had very high praise for the All-Big East quarterback.

"I think it makes for better quarterback play," he said. "If he's a big stiff, that's one thing, but Tony isn't. He really can move around in the pocket well. He's not a running quarterback, but he runs very well. And the thing that worries you is when he scrambles in the pocket, he's looking to make plays down the field. And he's done it. He's done it against everybody he's played against."

Schiano added that he could see Pike in the NFL down the road.

"I really think Tony Pike is an NFL quarterback," he said. "He's got all the tools, he's big, he's strong, he can throw the ball well, he sees the field well, he makes good decisions, and he has good mobility." The latest injury report from camp is that both Blair Bines (ankle) and George Johnson (shoulder) returned to practice today and fully participate. Schiano said that he thinks they'll both be OK.

The news isn't as good for tailback Kordell Young (knee). Although he returned to practice and "did a little bit," he appears unlikely to play against Cincinnati.

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