Pitt defensive back out for season
• Pitt freshman defensive back Jahmahl Pardner injured his left knee against Virginia Tech and will have season-ending ACL surgery Friday. Pardner recorded three tackles, with one sack and a forced fumble in the first three games. Because he was injured in the third game, he will accept a medical redshirt and retain four years of eligibility. Pardner joined running back Rushel Shell, tight end J.P. Holtz and defensive tackle Darryl Render as the only first-year freshmen playing this season.
• Senior Andrew Taglianetti, a reserve behind strong safety Jarred Holley, may earn more playing time in passing situations in Pardner's absence.
• Even with senior Hubie Graham nursing a clavicle injury, Pitt's coaches are excited about the increased physicality at tight end, thanks to the development of redshirt sophomore Drew Carswell and Holtz. “(Drew) is starting to take a lot of pride in being physical and trying to bring that element more and more into his game,” said offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, who added that Holtz impressed coaches with his effort. “J.P. just competed his tail off. He didn't flinch one bit.”
• Rudolph also liked what he saw from Shell, who ran for 157 yards against Virginia Tech to become the first Pitt freshman to rush for more than 100 yards since Dion Lewis in 2009. “(Shell) did a lot of good things and there are a lot of things to kind of clean up, but he showed he can be accountable in his assignments.” Asked about Shell's tendency to run over defenders, Rudolph smiled. “Not bad. He's a physical kid.”
• If senior receiver Mike Shanahan catches five passes against Gardner-Webb, he will move past Steve Moyer (1969-1971) and into 12th place on Pitt's all-time reception list with 118. Shanahan leads the Panthers with 16 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown this season.
— Jerry DiPaola