Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said senior Andrew Taglianetti will replace injured nickel back Jamahl Pardner on passing downs the rest of the season. Pardner, a freshman, will have season-ending knee surgery Friday.
I’ll admit the biggest surprise for me this season — before the relatively easy victory against Virginia Tech — was Taglianetti disappearing from the field (other than special teams) after safeties Jarred Holley and Jason Hendricks shook their preseason injuries.
But Holley and Hendricks made several big plays against Virginia Tech, putting their vast experience to good use.
Hendricks, who had one interception in 22 previous games, had two against the Hokies. Holley is never in the wrong place, and he also has a pick. No other Pitt player has an interception this season.
Pitt is fortunate to have a tough, smart player such as Taglianetti available when injuries surface. Meanwhile, Huxtable said he is hopeful Pardner will be ready to go next spring.
– The tiny town of Boiling Springs, N.C., has fewer than 5,000 people, but it does have the Internet. So, I’m guessing this little nugget from Hendricks will find its way into the football locker room at Gardner-Webb University.
Asked about G-W quarterback Lucas Beatty, Hendricks said: “He’s a decent quarterback. He has a strong arm. It feels like we can get some pressure on him, make him make some bad decisions.”
Truth be told, if the defenses of FCS schools Wofford, Richmond and Samford can rattle Beatty, Pitt should be able to do the same. Beatty has thrown three interceptions and been sacked nine times while G-W has been outscored, 119-38.
– By the way, has anyone noticed that Youngstown State followed up its victory against Pitt by beating Valparaiso, 59-0, and Albany, 31-24? Also, YSU moved up to No. 4 in The Sports Network FCS college football poll.