Pitt has safety in numbers in secondary
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Pitt senior Jarred Holley has started 34 games and intercepted nine passes in three seasons and was named first-team All-Big East last year.
Sounds like a starter, right? Well, maybe.
Holley is one of four safeties competing for two starting jobs in the Pitt secondary. The four players — Holley, Andrew Taglianetti, Ray Vinopal and Jason Hendricks — have played in a total of 111 games with 60 starts.
With the opener less than two weeks away, coach Paul Chryst hasn't named two starters, but Taglianetti, a fifth-year senior, spent the past week disrupting Pitt's passing game and stating his case with authority.
In three days, he intercepted four passes, batted down two others that had reached the hands of tight ends J.P. Holtz and Drew Carswell and recovered a fumble, returning it half the length of the field.
“At this point, I think I can say he is what you want in a senior, locked in and having his best year,” Chryst said. “If you are going to have any chance of having success, your seniors have to play their best football and they have to lead. He is trying to do that.”
Training camp started two weeks ago with Taglianetti, a free safety, matched with Vinopal, a redshirt sophomore strong safety who started six games as a freshman at Michigan in 2010.
But when an injury last week idled Hendricks, who missed the final six games last year with a shoulder problem, coaches started to match players with different partners.
Injuries to Hendricks and redshirt freshman Steve Williams also have allowed for a fifth talented athlete, former quarterback Anthony Gonzalez, to enter the mix as a backup strong safety.
Gonzalez is learning a position he hasn't played since high school, but he has good instincts and size (6-3, 210). His interception in overtime clinched the 2008 PIAA Class AAAA championship for Bethlehem Liberty against Bethel Park.
“It's really good competition,” Taglianetti said. “Either way, it will work out for this team. Whoever the coaches determine are going to be out there Day 1, it's going to be the right decision.”
Taglianetti said coaches have designed some speciality packages that may allow three safeties on the field at the same time.
“We can just drop someone in the box (closer to the line of scrimmage) to get more speed out there as we get into more game-planning,” he said.
“We have four guys who can play and deserve to be on the field, so I think the coaches will find a way to get us out there.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Panthers pulling weight for new strength coach
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Pitt wraps up spring football practice with closeness, competition
- Pitt football notebook: Panthers center sharpens his skills
- Injuries provide Pitt RB Ibrahim an opportunity to impress
- Pitt displays football program for fans as spring practice closes