Pitt Football: Three Panthers have season-ending injuries

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Pitt's 47-17 win Saturday against Temple might have been one of its most impressive of the season, but it came at a significant cost.

Coach Paul Chryst announced Monday that three players -- linebackers Dan Mason and Manny Williams and offensive lineman Ryan Schlieper -- will miss the rest of the season with injuries.

Mason suffered a lacerated liver making a tackle late in the game. His injury is especially heartwrenching, as the redshirt junior just returned five weeks ago after missing two years with a devastating knee injury. He was starting and excelling at middle linebacker, racking up 27 tackles in five games.

"We all know the reality of it, but he sure didn't seem like [he had] a 'woe is me' attitude," Chryst said. "I'm projecting this, but you don't overcome his previous injury with that kind of attitude."

Chryst said Mason likely will not need surgery and could be ready to return for spring practices.

Center Ryan Turnley said that, while the Panthers will miss Mason's impact on the field, he will still be a presence in the locker room.

"He's a guy that, even earlier in the year when he wasn't playing as much, he was a leader for this team," Turnley said. "Just his vocal presence in the locker room, guys have so much respect for him and what he's been through. It's going to be the same way now. Guys still have so much respect for him and the road that he's been on. He's just a great piece to this team."

Williams had an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Louisville three weeks ago, and Chryst said he initially tried to rehab it and return this year, but ultimately had to have surgery.

Todd Thomas has taken over Williams' spot in the previous two games and will continue to do so the rest of the way.

Schlieper hurt his foot early in the second half against Temple, and will need to have surgery to correct the damage. Arthur Doakes will likely take his place at right guard.

Doakes played most of the second half Saturday, but now has to get up to speed to make his first career start playing at No. 4 Notre Dame this week.

Chryst no stranger to spoiling

If Pitt does defeat Notre Dame Saturday, it won't be the first time Chryst has coached a team to a massive upset.

Most notably, Chryst was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin in 2010 when the Badgers knocked off No. 1 Ohio State with a 31-18 win at Camp Randall Stadium.

Chryst also was the offensive coordinator at Oregon State in 2004 when the Beavers came within eight points of beating No. 1 USC, which went on to win the national championship.

"It's not about knocking them off to ruin their season. To me, it has nothing to do [with that]," Chryst said. "It's the opportunity to go play a great team and to win for us. But it has nothing to do with being a spoiler in my opinion."

What's in a name?

Chryst said he would keep his promise to players and return names to the backs of Pitt's jerseys when they take the field Saturday.

Last Thursday, Chryst told his team if it beat Temple, he would put the names back on.

Pitt's jerseys have been nameless so far this season, a choice that Chryst said was meant to stress the importance of a team-first mentality.

More than two months into the season, Chryst said he has seen enough of that to make the switch back.

"The initial reasoning was wanting to make sure the most important thing was the team," Chryst said. "Truly, we've got some guys doing some real unselfish acts for this team."


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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