Pitt Football: Changes expected in lineup
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Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said yesterday that there might be some lineup changes this week in the wake of the 54-34 loss Saturday to Rutgers.
However, he was extremely cryptic about how many and what the changes will be.
He also refused to name a starting quarterback for the game Saturday at Notre Dame (5-2). Redshirt junior Bill Stull left the loss to Rutgers with a concussion and stinger in the third quarter and was replaced by sophomore Pat Bostick. If Stull can't play, Bostick will make his first start of the season, but both quarterbacks have been made off-limits to the media this week, so Wannstedt's decision might not be known until Saturday.
One thing Wannstedt made abundantly clear was that regardless of who starts, the offense will not change much.
"Everyone will want to discuss is the status of Bill Stull," Wannstedt said at his weekly news conference. "The quarterback situation is that Billy was at practice yesterday observing things. We're just going to take things with him day to day. Everything we've received from Billy and everything that we've received from the doctors has been nothing but positive, so that's good news. It has not been determined whether he will play or how much or what his status is this week -- that will be made at a later time."
Bostick threw a key interception late in the game when he tried to throw across his body while rolling out to his left. That play all but sealed the Panthers' fate.
"We didn't do one thing different Saturday when he came in," Wannstedt said of Bostick. "It's unfortunate that he made three nice throws and took us down the field and then he got some pressure in his face and we had the turnover."
Not knowing which quarterback will start will make preparation a little more difficult for the Panthers (5-2), but if Bostick is the starter, expect the offense to have a healthy does of running back LeSean McCoy and a controlled, safe passing a game.
As for the other personnel decisions, there could be a lot of things changing or hardly any.
"I'm not going to give you a whole lot of other personnel issues at this time because right now we're still working through some possibilities at a couple other spots," Wannstedt said.
There will be some shifting in the offensive line because starting center Robb Houser was lost for the season with a broken ankle. Wannstedt did concede that C.J. Davis would move from left guard to center, but Wannstedt didn't reveal his replacement yesterday. The logical choice would be senior Dom Williams, who was the starting left guard the last time the Panthers played Notre Dame (2005), but reserve tackle Lucas Nix could get a look there as well.
Davis said he's fairly confident Williams will get the nod because he's the most experienced player at that position and because he came into the game after Houser was injured. That was the first time Davis had taken snaps in a game in his career
"I think it will be Dom Williams playing left guard and I'll be playing center," Davis said. "When I came in 2005, he was the left guard, so I feel like he's ready to be plugged in there and we'll be ready to roll. I felt like we did OK [last week]. It was good for us to get that quarter in last week because this week we have a big game against Notre Dame."
The other areas that could see changes are in the secondary -- which was torched for 371 yards and six touchdowns by Rutgers' Mike Teel -- and at punt returner, where Aaron Berry has struggled and had a costly fumble against the Scarlet Knights.
Reserve cornerbacks Ricky Gary and Antwuan Reed likely will get some extended looks in practice this week and split some time with Jovani Chappel. At safety, Elijah Fields might play more than he has had in recent games.
"I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that we're going to have changes," Wannstedt said. "But we are evaluating everyone on what we're doing and who we're dealing with."
NOTES -- Wannstedt was asked if he thought Notre Dame will look at the tape and try to duplicate what Rutgers did. "Yes, I would. Notre Dame might throw it 60 times against us," he said. ... The Pitt-Louisville game Nov. 8 will start at noon at Heinz Field and will be televised on WTAE as the "Big East Game of the Week."
First Published October 28, 2008 12:00 am