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Pitt football notebook: Right guard spot remains unclear

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 7:32 p.m.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Pitt coach Paul Chryst refused Thursday to name a replacement at right guard for redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes, who has been suspended for violating a team rule and won't play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday against Ole Miss.

“We have a plan,” he said. “We are going to line up with 11 (players). I promise that.”

Redshirt sophomore Shane Johnson, who hasn't started a game in three seasons, is next on the depth chart.

• Senior running back Ray Graham didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, but Chryst said it has nothing to do with his surgically repaired right knee. “There is a group of mostly seniors that played a lot (during the regular season) and we want to try and make sure they are as healthy as possible (for the game),” he said. Said Graham: “The knee is feeling good.”

• When Chryst hires a defensive coordinator to replace Dave Huxtable, it will be the fourth in as many years at Pitt. Phil Bennett (2010) and Keith Patterson (2011) are the other two.

• Junior cornerback K'Waun Williams said secondary coach Matt House “is pretty much taking over the majority of the (coordinator) duties (in practice).” But Chris Haering (linebackers) and Inoke Breckterfield (defensive line) also have significant input, he said.

• This year will be the first for Williams when the head coach during the previous season was still around in the spring.

• Senior safety Andrew Taglianetti said he soon will begin preparing for a possible NFL career. “I might as well give it a shot,” he said. “I went through five years of this. I never count myself out. If not, I'll just move onto other things. I definitely want to get into sales. I think I'd be good there. Hopefully, make some money, play some golf.”

• Taglianetti, who knows Birmingham nearly as well as Oakland after three trips to the Compass Bowl, tweeted upon his arrival Tuesday: “Don't worry, Birmingham. Daddy's here.”

• Pitt is the last of nine present and future ACC schools to play its bowl game this season. Including Louisville, which has announced it is leaving the Big East, the ACC is 6-2 (2-1 against the SEC).

• Pitt and Ole Miss are 6-6 and also-rans in their conferences, but both schools are leading contenders for two of the most prominent high school seniors in the U.S. Pitt is first on the list of Clairton's Tyler Boyd (No. 8-ranked WR) and Ole Miss is the top choice of Loganville (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1 overall prospect. His brother, Denzel, is a linebacker for the Rebels. Boyd is scheduled to announce his decision Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

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