Pitt linemen making slow but steady progress
Pitt offensive line coach Jim Hueber doesn't hide from the truth.
“I don't think anybody who watched us play would think we haven't made progress,” he said of his linemen. “Not enough, but we made progress.”
Two games from the end of what Hueber terms “a long year,” Hueber said he is proud of his players' improvement. Still, he can't help thinking about what he did wrong, how the players could have done better and what the future holds.
“Maybe schematically, I asked more of them than I should have in a couple of situations,” he said, “thinking they would be able to handle it. Maybe they weren't ready for it.”
Nonetheless, there have been some success stories.
Despite a perceived lack of depth and a season-ending injury to right guard Ryan Schlieper, Pitt's offensive line has a chance to escort senior running back Ray Graham to the first 1,000-yard season of his career. Graham needs 165 yards.
“When I get to 1,000 yards, that will be for me and everybody else,” Graham said.
Graham had his best game after Schlieper was lost for the season with a foot injury, rushing for 172 yards against Notre Dame's strong front seven. For the most part, Hueber has been pleased with Schlieper's replacement, redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes.
“We just need to keep pushing him,” Hueber said.
Hueber's journey began in the spring, learning names, faces and skill levels of players unknown to him before he was hired in January. Then, before summer camp, tackle Juantez Hollins, who started six games in 2011, was suspended for the season, forcing guard Cory King to move to left tackle.
The line developed slowly, recovering and regressing while trying to keep quarterback Tino Sunseri upright. Sunseri has been sacked 28 times — tied for last in the Big East with Connecticut and 101st in the nation. Still, it's better than the 63 times Sunseri was sacked last season.
With Pitt off this week, Hueber used the opportunity Thursday to take a long look at freshman Adam Bisnowaty of Fox Chapel at left tackle, temporarily moving King to left guard, while seniors Chris Jacobson and Ryan Turnley took time off at guard and center.
The result was a glimpse at what Pitt's line might look like next year.
Bisnowaty is the No. 1 backup at left tackle, but coaches won't use him in games, hoping to preserve his redshirt, He will return in 2013 with four years of eligibility and plenty of practice reps.
“We did this (at Wisconsin) with a kid who wound up being a No. 1 draft pick (Chris McInstosh, 2000),” Hueber said.
Bisnowaty has responded well.
“He is a different guy, size-wise, strength-wise than he was when he came, and we thought he was a good player (then),” he said. “You watch him practice right now, and it doesn't make any difference who he goes against. He has no fear. He's going to be good.”
NOTE: Former Pitt wide receiver Darius Patton, who was a freshman in 2011 before leaving school this year, died Thursday in Farrell, according to the Mercer County coroner's office. Patton, 19, played at Penn Hills High School and Poland (Ohio) Seminary.
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.