Q&A: What is Nix's status?
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Q: As a unit, Pitt's offensive line played suprisingly well against South Florida. What is the status of Nix, and how does the matchup look against the Rutgers front seven?
Frank Stosic, Munhall
ZEISE: The unit did extremely well all things considered. I thought that Ryan Schlieper stepped in for Lucas Nix and really played well. The Bulls didn't get much pressure on the quarterback and Ray Graham obviously ran wild. That being said -- I think South Florida's defensive front is solid but not great and their defensive style -- rush four and rarely blitz (sound familiar) -- along with the fact that the quarterback got rid of the ball quickly, really helped the offensive line greatly as there wasn't much guesswork involved. This week will be a much greater test as Rutgers will come at the Panthers with a variety of pressure packages, exotic blitzes, twists, turns and all kinds of presnap movement in order to keep them guessing. The offensive line -- even if Nix (knee) plays and at this point it does not look like he will -- will really have to do its homework because Rutgers will test them mentally as much as they will physically. So this week, to me, is a much greater test of where the offensive line is than last week's because if the line can stand up and survive the fire it will be under against Rutgers, it will be able to handle just about anything thrown its way.
Q: Did you expect Ray Graham to be this kind of running back from the start when he was a freshman backing up Dion Lewis?
Ben Shockey, Syracuse, Indiana
ZEISE: We all knew he would be a star when we watched him in his first camp. I don't know that any of us knew he'd be this tough and physical of a runner. I mean, we knew he would be a really good running back and make people miss but he didn't show this kind of physical, downhill -- grind for yards after he is hit -- running style early on. I think that part of his game has been a surprise, but the fact that he is a star is not. He was pretty fun too watch at practice almost from day one.
Q: Paul, with a highly rated quarterback coming in to the program next year, that will leave the team with five scholarship QB's. Do you see someone transferring or switching positions permanently? Assuming this kid is as good as advertised and will be in the mix right away, would that make it a mistake to award Trey Anderson a scholarship when the staff didn't really need to?
ZEISE: Well, I would assume Chad Voytik will come in and redshirt. Tino Sunseri has one more season after this one, so he will be gone. I think Anthony Gonzalez will be an H-back,/threeback,/tight end for good, though I am sure they will continue to try and convince us that he is really getting a legitimate look at quarterback even though he spends almost all of his time catching, not throwing, passes. And it won't shock me if Mark Myers looks at his options after the season and perhaps heads somewhere else. So in reality, there are likely two QB's on scholarship beyond next year and that is not excessive. Besides, if we learned anything from the 2007 season it is this -- you can never have enough quarterbacks on scholarship. I think Anderson is a good enough player that they wanted to make sure they keep him around for the long haul and a scholarship is usually a fairly good insurance policy.
First Published October 4, 2011 2:08 pm