Sam Werner: Good afternoon, folks. Apologize for the late start, but if you keep the questions coming, I'll go a little later today to make up for it. Let's get right to it.
Aaron: What do we make of Dan Mason getting in last week? Is this a sign of if he continues to improve he can make an impact or his primarily just a mop up duty kind of guy?
Sam Werner: Unfortunately, Mason still has a long way to go before he can be the player he was pre-injury (which he very well could never be again). His knee, structurally, is healed, but there was some significant nerve damage along with the ligament tears, and that's the bigger issue because nerves don't grow back. That said, it's pretty remarkable that he was just able to get back on the field given the injury he suffered.
Pitt13to9: After seeing the 2nd team O-Line last week, will Gabe Roberts and Adam Bisnowaty be red-shirted?
Sam Werner: It would certainly appear that way. Offensive line is the one position where redshirting makes the biggest difference, and it's something Chryst valued greatly at Wisconsin. I think the staff feels that Roberts and Bisnowaty could play, if they were forced into action by injuries (that's why you saw them on the travel roster to Cincinnati), but if you don't have to play them, there's no sense in burning a redshirt year at a valuable position.
Guest: Was Shayne Hale in doghouse until last week for his being suspended for 1st game? I know alot of people got in but I think he was getting in no matter the score
Sam Werner: I don't think he was in any doghouse, per se. I think the biggest difference against Gardner-Webb was the fact that Aaron Donald and Jack Lippert were out, forcing the team to play some more depth along the defensive line. That said, I thought Hale played pretty well (3 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR), and wouldn't be surprised to see him rotated in a little bit more against Syracuse. He won the Conway award this spring, so the staff obviously sees him as a guy who should be able to contribute.
Guest: When Todd Thomas comes back, who is he going to split reps with, Eric Williams? Do you see Thomas taking over full time eventually?
Sam Werner: A couple of people posed this question, and Chryst talked about it last week when it looked like Thomas might play against Gardner-Webb. Thomas didn't get in the game, but given how close he appeared and with an extra two weeks off, I would be surprised if he wasn't ready to get in at least a few reps against Syracuse.
As far as splitting reps, yes, Thomas will work in at the Sam linebacker position currently occupied by Eric Williams. Chryst said last week that it's too early to worry about a rotation at this point, and that the first goal is to get Thomas back up to speed. Once he's 100 percent, then they'll worry about how to split the snaps. When healthy, Thomas is certainly a talented player, and he'll be a factor on the defense. Whether that's as a starter or key sub, it's a little too early to say. That depends on how quickly he gets back up to speed, as well as how Williams does over the next few games.
Guest: Is Trey Anderson the 2nd string QB if Sunseri would happen to be hurt for a game or so? What happens if Sunseri goes down with long term injury, is Voytik the answer?
Sam Werner: Yes. Anderson is the backup. I think the staff is going to conserve Voytik's redshirt at pretty much all costs.
If Sunseri goes down with a long-term (i.e. season-ending) injury, there's maybe a chance you see Voytik, but that depends on when the injury occurs. If it's this week or next week, maybe. But once you get more than halfway through the season the value of burning that redshirt decreases, and I think that would mean sticking with Anderson.
Sam Werner: As I think Pitt fans realized when he got banged up against Virginia Tech, the best answer here is really just for Sunseri not to get hurt.
Doug: What's your best guess on the Louisville kick-off time?
Sam Werner: Interesting question. If Pitt beats Syracuse next week and Louisville stays undefeated at Southern Miss, that might be a candidate for a night game. There aren't a ton of other marquee matchups that week that would be ESPN night games (South Carolina/LSU is the only one. Stanford/ND and Texas/Oklahoma will be day games).
It's all speculation at this point, and I know that weekend is Pitt's homecoming, too, which could complicate matters.
Brian: What is the status of Ejuan Price? I haven't heard anything about him in a few weeks.
Sam Werner: Price announced (on Twitter) before this season that he will be taking a medical redshirt. Out for the season.
guest 2: I heard a rumor that the RB recruit Clement was reconsidering, have you heard anything about that?
Sam Werner: Corey Clement visited Notre Dame this past weekend for the Michigan game, and by all accounts had a pretty good time. That said, I don't think he's incredibly high on Notre Dame's list. I think he's keeping his options open, but I wouldn't be too concerned at this point.
Aaron: Now that the team has recovered to get to 2-2, what do you think would be considered a good season? They have tough home games against Louisville and Rutgers along with a pretty good Notre Dame team on the road.
Sam Werner: I think, right now, it's looking like 7-5 would be a pretty good result for this team, especially considering the 0-2 start. Like you said, I think they'll definitely have trouble against Rutgers, Louisville and Notre Dame. They beat Virginia Tech, though, so I wouldn't put it past them to pull another surprise.
Right now, I still don't feel like we have an accurate judge of how good this team is. The team we saw beat Virginia Tech can play with anyone in the Big East, but those first two games still happened. The Syracuse game will tell me a lot about Pitt because if they come out and comfortably beat the Orange, it'll show that they kept that momentum going through the bye week, and that the Virginia Tech game wasn't just a flash in the pan. If they play the same way against Syracuse as they did against VT and GW, I think Pitt will be in good shape moving forward.
guest 3: will the team be overstocked with quarterbacks and wide receivers beginning next season?
Sam Werner: No. I think they'll be right where they'll want to be next year, at least with QB. Sunseri will be gone, but you'll have Savage, Voytik and Tra'von Chapman coming in, along with Anderson providing some depth. Savage only has one year of eligibility, so it's not like there will be a 3-man QB logjam for years to come.
At WR, they lose Brinson, Saddler and Shanahan and, right now, only have Zach Challingsworth committed at the position. Street will be back, and I would expect guys like Ronald Jones and Brendon Felder to play a bigger role.
Guest: Surprised that JP Holtz hasnt been thrown to much. Why is that?
Sam Werner: A lot of that is probably just the way plays are shaking out. The receivers have done a better job getting open over the last couple of games, so Sunseri hasn't had to check down to the tight end as much. Also, as a freshman, Holtz is still learning how to become a solid route-runner at the collegiate level. He has been great this season, no doubt, but there are always areas that take a little bit of adjusting in college football.
Guest: Explain how Pitt could get dominated by YSU but pretty much dominate VT on both sides of the ball
Sam Werner: Magic? Seriously, I'm not sure there's a totally logical explanation. The biggest thing is that they weren't getting physically pushed around by YSU and Cincinnati, it was more a case of guys being colossally out of position. They corrected those problems against VT, and you saw the results.
Sam Werner: That'll be it for this week. Thanks for the questions and, again, sorry for the delay. I'll be back next week, this time at noon for a Syracuse week chat.