Pitt O-line eager for full contact as pads go on Saturday
The first four days of Pitt football practice revealed little of significance about the offensive linemen.
Yes, they are tall and their shoulders are as wide as most doorways. And they practice like it matters to them, evidenced by redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty's bold, after-the-whistle tussle Thursday with senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Offensive line coach Jim Hueber is a hard man to impress in the best of times, but he'll pay closer attention Saturday. That's when the linemen get a chance to stand out and start coming together as a unit. That's when the team puts on full pads for the first time this summer.
“Instead of being in underwear, we'll find out what happens,” Hueber said.
Bisnowaty is as eager as his coach.
“Let's see what we all got,” he said.
Hueber appears excited about this group, and not just because Cory King and Matt Rotheram are playing guard — where they belong — instead of tackle.
“There are more bodies,” he said.
For the first time in three seasons, Pitt has competition on the line from the beginning of the season. Center Artie Rowell, guard Ryan Schlieper and tackles Dorian Johnson and Juantez Hollins will push until they win a starting job or merely make the proceedings uncomfortable for starters Bisnowaty, King, Rotheram, center Gabe Roberts and right tackle T.J. Clemmings.
Hollins, a senior from Aliquippa who was suspended last season for violating team rules, and Rowell, a sophomore from Harrisburg, have caught Hueber's eye.
“You know, I have been upset with Juantez a couple different times, but he has really thrown himself into it right now,” he said. “The guy who has really stepped up and allowed us (some flexibility) is Artie Rowell. He has really done a good job.”
Then, there is Johnson, a freshman from Belle Vernon who arrived at Pitt with more fanfare than any lineman in several years.
“I think he can handle it,” coach Paul Chryst said. “It won't get too big for him, but we'll see.”
Johnson remains behind Clemmings, a junior playing offense for the first time, but Hueber recognizes his potential.
“You have to remember, he is learning brand-new terminology, but he's a quick study. If you watch him run, if you watch him play, if you watch him strike, he can do all those things.”
Johnson said he can handle the position from a physical standpoint.
“It's just mentally draining,” he said. “I'm kind of excited to go against the older guys and see how I stack up against them.”
In his short time at Pitt (one season and one week of camp), Hueber has become notoriously lovable for how he treats his players, screaming with legitimate fury one minute and placing a fatherly hand on a shoulder the next.
“He said he has high expectations,” Johnson said. “That's why he's so hard on me.”Said Hueber: “They are still trying to figure out if I'm half crazy. I'm trying to tell them, I actually am crazy.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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.
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- Pitt takes part in government concussion study
- Pitt, Penn State face competition for ticket sales
- Pitt’s Chryst names Voytik starting quarterback
- Ex-Pitt basketball star Patterson signs overseas
- Pitt notebook: Render proving to be Donald-esque on defense
- Pitt football growing under Chryst
- Pitt football coach Chryst shaking up his team’s depth chart
- Pitt assistant strength coach’s battle with cancer inspires players
- Pitt sophomore Coles leaves football team