Pitt football released its first official two-deep depth chart of the 2013 season Monday in preparation for its ACC opener against Florida State on Sept. 2.
The depth chart reflects many of the developments that came through Pitt’s three-week-long training camp earlier this month, with redshirt senior Tom Savage listed as the starting quarterback, true freshman Tyler Boyd starting at wide receiver with Devin Street and true freshman Chris Blewitt starting at kicker.
On defense, the interior defensive line remains as expected with Tyrone Ezell and Aaron Donald slated to start at the tackle slots. At defensive end, Ejuan Price is listed as a co-starter after his impressive training camp with David Durham and Bryan Murphy also starting on each side.
Behind the line, Bam Bradley is at the top of the strong-side linebacker position while redshirt junior Anthony Gonzalez is on the weak side to flank redshirt senior Shane Gordon in the middle. Redshirt junior Todd Thomas is listed as the second-team weak-side linebacker after he left the team before the second day of training camp but returned the next week.
In front of Savage, Pitt’s offensive line will consist of Adam Bisnowaty and T.J. Clemmings as tackles, Cory King and Matt Rotheram as guards and Artie Rowell at center. Rowell, a redshirt sophomore, won the battle in training camp against redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts.
“I thought it was a great competition, and I think Artie’s earned the opportunity to start in the end,” Chryst said. “I think Gabe did a lot of good things and is continuing to improve, but right now we felt Artie probably gave us the best chance right now.”
The two sides on the line of scrimmage are what Chryst identified early as a key against Florida State.
“One of the strengths of Florida State certainly is their offensive line,” Chryst said. “Most football games you play in, who controls the line of scrimmage is a team that has an advantage.”
On special teams, Blewitt won the starting kicker job over Brad Lukasak, while Matt Yoklic retains his spot as the team’s starting punter. Lafayette Pitts and Jason Hendricks will return kicks, while K’Waun Williams is listed as the starting punt returner.
An interesting wrinkle comes at the tailback position, where junior Isaac Bennett is still the starting running back. Redshirt sophomore Malcolm Crockett is listed as his backup, and freshman James Conner is not included on the two-deep, although he took the lion’s share of carries in practice during the weeks Bennett missed.
Conner sustained a shoulder injury in Pitt’s scrimmage that concluded training camp last week, but tweeted “Shoulder is good!” later that afternoon. Chryst said both Bennett and Conner did some work in practice Monday, but the extent of the work is unknown.
“[Bennett] obviously missed quite a bit of time, so it’s still a little bit too early to tell,” Chryst said. “He was able to go through some things today, more than he’s done before.”
In the coming week, as with the previous eight months since Pitt last played, Chryst emphasized approaching the team’s ACC debut in no different of a manner.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for that team,” Chryst said. “But I think you can create a consistent approach to the way you prepare.”