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4-1-Zoo: Offensive News & Notes As Camp Winds Down

Ray Graham

(AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — There are just two days left in Pitt football’s 2011 training camp, which is just incredible.

When you look at the timeline of events since Jan. 1, it’s really incredible how quickly everything has developed. It seems like a month ago we all gathered in the South Side to see the university introduce Todd Graham as head coach.

Now, in just two days the Panthers will start their in-season regimen and begin preparing for the regular season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 3.

With the regular season right around the corner we now know a lot more about this Pitt team and how it will look on Sept. 3. Here’s a look at what we know so far on the offensive side of the ball along with what has still yet to be determined with the season a little over two weeks away…

- The offensive line was a big area of competition as training camp started and now it appears Graham has what he’s looking for along the line. Lucas Nix and Jordan Gibbs are firmly entrenched at the tackles and Chris Jacobson and Cory King look to be the team’s starting guards.

Ryan Turnley will be the team’s starting center barring a serious regression in his play or an injury. Turnley was maybe the biggest question mark along the line and still is, but his play has become consistent enough for Graham to name him the starter right now.

“Ryan Turnley is starting to be consistent and more natural with the three fixtures up front,” Graham said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m really impressed so far with all of our offensive linemen.”

Jacobson will be the team’s back up center and Greg Gaskins appears to be the first option off the bench at both guard and tackle.

- As I wrote yesterday, Trey Anderson has been named the backup quarterback to Tino Sunseri, followed by either Anthony Gonzalez or Mark Myers. Gonzalez will play a dual role, splitting out as a receiver in some formations. He and Myers still seem to be battling it out for the No. 3 spot.

Regardless of how the competition for the No. 3 spot goes, it’s hard to believe Myers will remain with Pitt after this season. That’s just me speculating. He was going to be “the guy” under Wannstedt and stuck on with Graham, likely assuming he’d be right behind Sunseri on the depth chart.

The fact that he’s been passed up by a freshman walk-on in Graham’s offensive system makes it hard for me to believe he’ll continue to burn eligibility at Pitt in the coming years when he can probably take his cannon of an arm somewhere else and start. This really has the feel of a Tyler Palko-Joe Flacco situation at quarterback.

- It still seems pretty up in the air regarding who will play out of the backfield one you get past starter Ray Graham. Zach Brown will be No. 2 on the depth chart and then you’ve got a handful of inexperienced but skilled freshmen.

Corey Davis, Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett have all looked impressive in practice and could see time.

“I don’t know exactly how many carries the younger running backs will get, but we will focus on Ray Graham’s number of touches,” Graham said Wednesday.

- At wide receiver, Pitt is dealing with some injury issues. Cam Saddler is back at practice but is limited, wearing a green jersey for no contact. Devin Street is still out and it appears the earliest he might return is the beginning of next week after being carted off the field Tuesday morning.

“A lot of what we are doing is just being cautious, so I would not expect Devin Street back for a couple days,” Graham said.

Saddler, Street and Mike Shanahan are still the top three wide receivers and it looks like redshirt freshman Salath Williams is making a strong case for himself as the team’s No. 4 target.

“Salath Williams has had an unbelievable camp. He is a guy that has moved up the depth chart,” Graham said.

I’ll have more updates as training camp winds down, as I’ll be at practice on Thursday and Friday. Look out for some audio from coach Graham and hopefully a player interview or two, including one with freshman walk-on quarterback Trey Anderson.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog
Twitter.com/Chris_Gates
Chris.Gates@cbsradio.com