Pitt notebook: Boyd likely to play Friday against Boston College
September 3, 2014 9:20 AM
Pitt's Tyler Boyd pulls in the ball for a touchdown against Delaware's C.J. Jones in the first quarter at Heinz Field Saturday afternoon.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tyler Boyd put a scare into Pitt fans when he left a 62-0 win Saturday against Delaware in the second quarter, but indications are he should be ready for the Panthers' ACC opener Friday night against Boston College.
Boyd dislocated a finger on his left hand on a punt return just before halftime and was held out the rest of the game, which Pitt had comfortably in hand. After the game, his teammates indicated he seemed fine and Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he didn't expect Boyd to miss any more game action.
At his news conference Tuesday, Chryst indicated that Boyd returned to practice with the team Monday and seemed confident the receiver/returner would be ready to go by Friday. In the open portion of Pitt's Tuesday practice, Boyd had his hand wrapped but took his turn fielding punts in special-team drills.
After the win against Delaware, Chryst said the injury wasn't going to stop the Panthers from using Boyd as a punt returner. Before getting hurt, Boyd had returns of 35, 11 and 26 yards. He also hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
"I think we're still a young team and need to do a lot of things," Chryst said. "Tyler got hurt carrying the ball, and we're going to put him in that position a lot."
A serious injury to Boyd, a Clairton High School graduate, would be one setback that potentially could derail Pitt's offense after a successful debut against the Blue Hens. Boyd set freshman records a year ago with 85 catches for 1,174 yards. He also returned a punt for a touchdown in Pitt's 30-27 win against Bowling Green in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Rush to honors
Two key members of Pitt's running game earned ACC honors this week after the Panthers plowed for 409 yards on the ground against Delaware.
Sophomore running back James Conner was named the ACC offensive back of the week after racking up 153 yards and four touchdowns against the Blue Hens.
"You get in a rhythm and, once you feel like you can move the ball at will, you want to continue to move that way," Conner said.
"When coach calls your name when you're in the huddle, you get pretty amped up about that."
One of the players Conner was running behind, redshirt senior right guard Matt Rotheram, was named the ACC's offensive lineman of the week.
Rotheram and his linemates paved the way for Pitt's biggest rushing output since 1976.
"It's encouraging, but we are going to start playing better teams, better defensive lines, so we've got to take that all into consideration," Rotheram said.
Chryst said Tuesday he wasn't worried about overconfidence after such a lopsided victory in the opener. In fact, he noted that players already were moving on to the Boston College game in the locker room after the Delaware win.
"A lot of the guys were excited for other guys who were able to get in," Chryst said.
"I'm appreciative of the effort, but they were pointing toward [the fact that] that [game] was now over. I liked the way they handled it the right way."
Pitt received one vote in the AP Top 25 poll released Tuesday. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman had the Panthers at No. 25 on his ballot after their dominant win.
It's the first time Pitt has received any votes since Oct. 2, 2011, after a 44-17 win against South Florida.
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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