Jim: Is ODU's quarterback really as good as Pitt coaches are making him out to be? Can he avoid Aaron Donald this weekend?
Sam Werner: I told Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder earlier this week that his quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, has been compared to both Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston by Pitt coaches this week. He laughed and said that the Pitt coaches were probably trying to build up Heinicke to their team a little bit.
I certainly don't think he's on Winston's level (there's a reason Jameis is a Heisman Trophy contender) but Heinicke is certainly the real deal and fits in very well in Old Dominion's offense. The thing Wilder said makes Heinicke so special is his lightning-quick ability to recognize plays and get the ball out of his hands quickly. He's an accurate and smart passer, and can also make plays with his legs when he has to. That's how Paul Chryst compared him to Wilson, in that they both look to make plays down the field when they're on the run.
Paul: Are Devin Street and James Conner going to play this week?
Sam Werner: Chryst has been pretty coy with his players' injury statuses this week (likely because he doesn't have to submit an ACC injury report). If I had to guess, I would say that Street will probably not play while Conner will. Street was not in pads Tuesday or Wednesday, while Conner was.
Another guy to keep an eye on is left guard Cory King, who was banged up this week. I would guess that King will also be out and Ryan Schlieper will start in his place.
Frank: What is wrong with the offensive line? Are they going to get better? Can Pitt please think about starting Dorian Johnson?!
Sam Werner: First of all, there's no reason to think that Dorian Johnson would be any sort of improvement for Pitt's offensive line. He's a true freshman in just his second month of college football. The five guys currently starting are the best guys that Pitt has, and those are the guys they're going to roll with (barring injury) the rest of the way.
Now, that being said, there's certainly plenty of room for improvement for the offensive line. I think this will be a good game in that they're so physically dominant over Old Dominion that they should be able to push the Monarchs around and even build some confidence.
Jennings: How is Pitt going to stop ODU's QB?
Sam Werner: Well, that's the million-dollar question. I do think Heinicke is going to cause some problem's for Pitt's defense. The Panthers have struggled with mobile quarterbacks going all the way back to last year, so I don't see any reason for that to change tomorrow. Defensive ends coach John Palermo called this a "nightmare week" preparing for Heinicke. His position group is probably the most important to stopping Heinicke, as they'll have to keep him contained in the pocket. I don't think they'll end up shutting down Heinicke, but Pitt's offense will score enough that it won't matter.
Sam Werner: All right, there aren't any questions in the queue, so I'm going to wrap things up early this week. Any other Pitt football questions, feel free to ask my on Twitter at @SWernerPG, and make sure to follow along for all the latest Pitt football news.mobilehome - pittsports
First Published October 18, 2013 9:00 AM