Pitt is still searching for depth on offensive line
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Pitt assistant Jim Hueber is an equal-opportunity offensive line coach. He yells at everyone.
After two weeks of drills, his words have hit the mark and are helping shape Pitt's line into a serviceable group. Holes are starting to open in the defense, thanks to five starters getting accustomed to each other.
But here's a key to a successful season: Keep the starting line healthy.
“I'm not going to lie to anybody,” Hueber said. “We're just like a lot of teams around the country. When we decide on five guys, that's the five guys we want to play. You don't want to play anybody else.
“I know you are hoping against hope that will happen over 12 games. But that's where we want to be.”
From the start of camp, the starters have been led by seniors Ryan Turnley at center and Chris Jacobson at left guard, with Ryan Schlieper at right guard, Cory King at left tackle and Matt Rotheram at right tackle.
“We are going to be as good as our front five, as Coach Hueber always tells us,” Jacobson said. “Leadership has to come from the front five.”
The backups, none of whom have played in a major-college game, are showing “flashes,” Hueber said.
“That's it. No elaboration,” he said. “Flashes.”
The group includes freshmen Adam Bisnowaty and Gabe Roberts at left tackle and guard, center Artie Rowell, right guard Shane Johnson and right tackle Zenel Demhasaj.
“The freshman kids are doing a nice job,” Hueber said. “Artie Rowell has done a nice job. He has us in the right protections, stuff like that.”
Still, Hueber is demanding more consistency, or else.
“When we get ready to go to game time,” he said, “if they are not involved in the two-deep (depth chart), it will be their fault, not mine. They are getting as much coaching and as much is being demanded out of them as the guys who are with the first group.
“If they can't step up and do it, we will move someone else who can, or else I'll keep my fingers crossed that we got five (starters), or we'll have to move a fullback to guard. We'll go single wing.”
Don't expect anything so drastic, though.
“I think we are getting closer to having five guys we can trust out there,” he said. “By no means was it perfect (in Saturday's scrimmage), but over the last three days, we really felt like we got a lot done that will help us moving forward.”
The example set by Jacobson, who is recovering from knee surgery, should be a source of inspiration, Hueber said.
“The fact that he is in the huddle, guys are looking to him. It's not easy to take a play off now when a guy is out there after (surgery).
“Not easy to beg out.”
A sign in the Pitt weight room reminds linemen to be “tough, accountable and durable.”
“If you are not out there, you are not durable,” Hueber said. “You have to find a way to get on the field. If you are going to find a way not to, we got the wrong guy.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can 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.
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Wrestling programs look ahead to NCAA tourney
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- Pitt’s oldest known living football letterman turns 100
- With NCAA hopes on bubble, Pitt men treating Clemson as must-win
- Former Pitt coach Majors in stable condition after heart procedure