Pitt notebook: Panthers looking to future?
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 5:24 p.m.
Look closely, and you will get a sense of where the Pitt football team is headed, not just for the rest of this year but for seasons to come.
The latest loss — 21-10 to Georgia Tech — leaves the Panthers in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
Pitt has lost three of four games since opening 3-1. At 4-4, 2-3 in the ACC, the Panthers must win two of their final four, starting with Notre Dame (7-2) on Saturday night at Heinz Field.
While the losses are coming in bunches, coach Paul Chryst is starting to play younger personnel.
Some of it is because of injury. Some of it is because there is more to gain for the future than there is to lose in the present. Consider:
• Senior middle linebacker Shane Gordon has been injured and hasn't started three of the past five games, providing freshman Matt Galambos and sophomore Nicholas Grigsby increased opportunities. Galambos responded with a fumble recovery against Georgia Tech, and Grigsby had six tackles.
• Senior defensive tackle Tyrone Ezell played fewer snaps than sophomore Darryl Render, who displaced him in the starting lineup and recorded seven tackles. Render's fumble recovery in the third quarter could have been a big play had the offense taken advantage.
“He's been practicing well the last couple weeks,” Chryst said of Render. “He's earned the right to get some snaps.”
• Freshman offensive tackle Dorian Johnson struggled against Georgia Tech, but he is an important part of the line's future with tackle Adam Bisnowaty and centers Artie Rowell and Gabe Roberts. And that's not counting four freshmen who aren't playing this year and a 2014 class that includes Mike Grimm (6-foot-6, 328 pounds) of Bethel Park.
There will be a job open next season when senior left guard Cory King moves on. Johnson could change positions and fill it.
He should know
Quarterback Tom Savage gave Johnson, who made his first career start, interesting advice before the game.
“I just told him, ‘Go out there and play hard. Who cares? If you let one go, I'll get up. It doesn't matter,' ” Savage said.
Savage played as a freshman at Rutgers, so he understands how difficult and unnerving it can be.
“I was in the bathroom when coach (Greg) Schiano told me I was going in,” he said. “I said, ‘I'm not going in. You're going in.' I know that feeling.”
Pitt's defense recovered two fumbles, but the offense didn't get a first down either time. Savage completed 3 of 5 passes for 2 yards, and Isaac Bennett had a 4-yard run.
In the fourth quarter, Pitt moved to Georgia Tech's 47-, 36- and 19-yard lines but ended up punting twice and throwing an interception.
“I thought we were rolling a little bit,” Savage said. “We just have to seize those opportunities. Put it on me.”
Punter Matt Yoklic recovered from his 20-yard punt late in the Navy game to average 44.3 yards, his best performance in nearly a month. ... Devin Street's 45 yards receiving marked his smallest production this season. ... Savage had a streak of 118 passes without an interception broken on his last attempt of the game. ... Cornerback K'Waun Williams suffered a biceps injury in the fourth quarter. ... Notre Dame linebacker Ben Councell is out for the season with a left knee injury.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- Pitt’s Patterson second-team All-ACC, Zanna honorable mention
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Wrestling programs look ahead to NCAA tourney
- Pitt’s oldest known living football letterman turns 100
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- With NCAA hopes on bubble, Pitt men treating Clemson as must-win
- Former Pitt coach Majors in stable condition after heart procedure
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson
- Altoona LB commits to Pitt for 2015
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson