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Pitt notebook: Offensive line tweaked again

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Aaron Donald plays against Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

• The toughest job on the Pitt staff continues to belong to offensive line coach Jim Hueber. Hueber was forced to juggle more bodies prior to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Thursday when junior right guard Matt Rotheram, a two-year starter and perhaps the most consistent blocker on the unit, was excused for personal reasons. A Pitt spokesman said Rotheram remains a member of the team, but Rotheram was not at Ford Field for the game against Bowling Green. The result was another new look for the Pitt offensive line, which already was missing left tackle Adam Bisnowaty and left guard Cory King, both of whom have back injuries. King, a senior, hasn't played since the Virginia Tech game Oct. 12. Freshman Dorian Johnson started in place of Rotheram, while seniors Juantez Hollins and Ryan Schlieper continued to fill in for Bisnowaty and King. Johnson played mainly tackle during the regular season. Center Artie Rowell and right tackle T.J. Clemmings were the only offensive linemen in the spots where they started the season.

• Senior wide receiver Devin Street also did not play while fighting foot and elbow injuries. Street, the team's second-leading pass catcher behind freshman Tyler Boyd, missed most of the past two regular-season games.

• Freshman Shakir Soto made the first start of his career at left end and sacked Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson on the second play of the Falcons' first series.

• Pitt freshman running back James Conner was used as a backup defensive end on Bowling Green's second series. Pitt coaches had been experimenting with Conner on defense in recent practice sessions, but he also lined up at running back on Pitt's third offensive series and scored on a 15-yard run.

— Jerry DiPaola

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