Pitt football notebook: Panthers overcome injuries
Pitt linebacker Todd Thomas was so excited with teammate Dan Mason's fourth-down tackle Saturday that he kept pounding his buddy on the back in triumph.
Then he noticed Mason was hurt.
“I'm over top of him, hitting him, and I said, ‘Oh, I hope he isn't hurt,'” Thomas said.
As it turned out, Mason merely had the wind knocked out of him after chasing Temple quarterback Clinton Granger and dragging him down at the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter.
“He's good,” Thomas said of Mason.
But three other Pitt starters weren't as fortunate.
Offensive guard Ryan Schlieper suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and was replaced by Arthur Doakes.
Defensive end T.J. Clemmings experienced back spasms in warm-ups and did not play, giving the start to fifth-year senior Shayne Hale.
Tight end Hubie Graham, who has been plagued by injuries most of the season, aggravated a shoulder injury. He was replaced by freshman J.P. Holtz, who caught an 18-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst had no further information on the injuries.
Center Ryan Turnley praised Doakes, who is the first reserve offensive lineman to get extensive playing time this season.
“He wasn't nervous,” Turnley said. “We told him, ‘You'll be fine.' He got after people. He didn't just kind of step in and make sure nothing went wrong. He played well.”
Senior running back Ray Graham moved into fifth place on Pitt's all-time rushing list with 2,851 yards, passing LeSean McCoy, Billy West and Elliott Walker. Next on the list is Dion Lewis, who had 2,860.
“He is probably going to call me,” Graham said laughing.
Graham acknowledged he has had the benefit of staying at Pitt for four seasons while McCoy and Lewis each played two.
“If they were here for four years, they would be putting up greater numbers, too,” Graham said.
Graham also scored three times to move into 10th place on Pitt's all-time scoring list with 192 points on 32 touchdowns.
Names on jerseys returning
The victory against Temple means Chryst must follow through on a promise he made before the game: He will have the players' names put back on their jerseys.
One of his first directives as coach was to take them off.
“Coach said at the beginning of the season we need to win to put those (back on the jerseys),” said running back Rushel Shell, who had his longest run of the season (33 yards). “I think he trusts us enough to have our names on the back.”
Said Thomas: “Names on the jersey are not going to change how people play, but I guess it's a little fashion statement.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7997.