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Williams gives Pitt veteran presence at outside linebacker

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Pitt senior outside linebacker Greg Williams said he was surprised that he started against Buffalo over redshirt freshman Todd Thomas after missing a week’s worth of practices last month due to a head injury.

“I guess I impressed them with what I was doing right (after returning),” he said. “It might have been that I was a veteran and they trusted me more. I’m not sure.”

“Every day is a new day,” defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. “He just kept progressing as the week went on.”

“It was a good decision because he played really well,” Todd Graham said.

Nonetheless, Williams, a 32-game starter at inside linebacker the past three seasons, said he played “a little slow,” due to his absence from practice.

“But this week I am going to be ready.”

Williams said he suffered a head injury when he got smacked on the side of his helmet during a blitz drill.

“I was trying to practice banged up and I just made it worse,” he said.

– Graham said backup quarterback Mark Myers’ case of elbow tendinitis in the spring has held him back, but that’s just one reason the thought of replacing Tino Sunseri Saturday night never crossed his mind.

Another was the fact that backup Trey Anderson has been with the team for a little more than a month, so he also wasn’t ready to take control of the offense.

But the biggest reason was Graham’s confidence in Sunseri’s ability to recover from a poor first half. Pitt scored 28 points in the second half, and Sunseri hit six of seven attempts for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Graham said Anderson will play this season and will not use a redshirt.

– On the subject of backup – or former backup – quarterbacks: Anthony Gonzalez could find a role in the offense as an H-back when he returns next week from his two-game suspension.

In Gonzalez’s case, it’s a matter of Graham seeking more speed for the offense, so you also can expect to see more of H-Back Drew Carswell and wide receiver Ronald Jones, who will do more this time than return punts.

– Offensive line coach Spencer Leftwich admits that he keeps a close eye on left tackle Juantez Hollins.

“I told  him, `I am going to be a little harder on you because you are a guy who hasn’t played and has a lot of ability and it’s my job to get that out of you,’ ” Leftwich said.

Saturday night, Hollins played his first game since his senior season at Aliquippa (2008), and he clearly needs a lot of work.

“The lights get brighter and the crowd gets a little louder,” Leftwich said. “Our approach is let’s really coach him hard. The young man has a lot of talent and is really a gifted athlete. He just needs reps and reps and reps and reps.”

– Leftwich had high praise for senior left guard Chris Jacobson. “He played a fine game. He plays like the kid he is. He is a hard-nosed, hard-working kid.”

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