Here are some updates from Pitt’s practice on Thursday afternoon as the Panthers ready themselves for Division I-AA New Hampshire on Saturday (sorry, I refuse to use FCS). Not a whole lot of news.
*** Defensive end Greg Romeus missed his second practice in a row. All indications are that Romeus, and safeties Dom DeCicco (groin) and Andrew Taglianetti (hamstring) won’t play much, if at all, against New Hampshire. Coach Dave Wannstedt said all three were questionable. When I asked if there would be a tendency to hold them out a week – against a Division I-AA team with with a bye week on the way – Wannstedt said, “They are questionable. I’m not going to comment on injuries more than that.”
*** If those three can’t go, expect Brandon Lindsey to start for Romeus at right defensive end, and redshirt freshman Jason Hendricks to fill in for DeCicco at starting strong safety. K’Waun Williams and Buddy Jackson should see some time in place of Taglianetti, the team’s nickel back. Another defensive back who could play is redshirt freshman safety Kolby Gray, who saw a few snaps against Utah.
Gray, of course, is the former Texas prep quarterback who switched to safety during spring drills. Gray had an excellent training camp, getting a lot of reps at second team. He has a nose for the ball – he had at least two or three picks in camp — and I think he is going to develop into a really good safety.
*** Sophomore running back Ray Graham (knee), who didn’t play against Utah, is expected to play against New Hampshire. Wannstedt said the team’s second-leading rusher last year will “definitely get some carries.”
*** New Hampshire runs a spread, like Utah, but the two schemes are much different.
The Wildcats are more run-option. Last week, New Hampshire passed for only 97 yards – while rushing for 313 – in a 33-3 victory over Central Connecticut State.
Still, Pitt certainly gave some damning video evidence against Utah that New Hampshire is sure to copy. Think we will see New Hampshire trying any crossing patterns when their wide receivers are singled by a Pitt linebacker?
“I would expect them to try a few of the things that Utah had some success with against us,” coach Dave Wannstedt said.
New Hampshire senior quarterback R.J. Toman has thrown for more than 5,600 career yards and run for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns for his career.
“Utah’s quarterback was a secondary runner,” Wannstedt said. “These guys will give you some formations and move people around and end up running a triple option. It’s a Navy scheme, where it’s a fullback dive, a quarterback keep or a pitch. So, their running game is a lot more sophisticated from the quarterback run-game, option-game than what Utah was.”
*** I would like to send out my best wishes to E.J. Borghetti and his family. Borghetti, Pitt’s football media relations/senior associate AD, underwent scheduled surgery today to blast out some kidney stones that have made his life miserable in recent weeks. I understand everything went smoothly and he should be back, sooner than later. While he recovers, the department is in the capable hands of Mendy Nestor. Get well soon, E.J.