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4-1-Zoo: Pitt Freshmen Could Play Key Role

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — There’s been a concerning trend with the Pitt Panthers through two weeks, and that’s poor second half play.

Five of six touchdowns allowed to opponents have come in the second half, and the offense hasn’t been able to put games away late — best exemplified by turnovers in the second half Saturday that allowed Maine to hang around after trailing 20-7 at halftime.

The solution may be to play more freshmen. Pitt coach Todd Graham said there’s eight freshmen he expects won’t redshirt and all can add speed to the depth chart. They are returner Corey Davis, returner Ronald Jones, wide receiver Darius Patton, quarterback Trey Anderson, linebackers Ejuan Price and LaQuentin Smith, nose tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith and linebacker Nicholas Grigsby.

Pitt has struggled to play at Graham’s desired tempo for 60 minutes and, in turn, it has experienced widely inconsistent stretches of play in the opening two weeks.

More speed and more depth can only help.

“I think we’ve got to get some young guys in the receiving corps and get some more speed on the field,” Graham said in terms of the offense. “I thought Drew Carswell showed up and made a few plays there and we’re excited about Anthony Gonzalez being back this week and Anthony will play this week. So that’s more athleticism on the field.

“I think we’ve got to get Corey Davis more involved. I think Darius Patton has to play, he’s not going to redshirt. I think Ronald Jones has got to get more involved. The key is we need more speed out on the field.”

His thoughts were similar regarding the defense as well.

“Ejuan Price definitely is not (redshirting),” he added. “Lafayette Pitts is our backup bandit (safety) and backup on most special teams and we’d like not to play him but if he progresses and he can help us win then we’ve got to play him. Lloyd Carrington is in the same role. Malcolm Crockett is sitting right there if we have to use him.

“So we have a lot of guys on the bubble. I think we have some guys that are a little bit behind on the learning curve and learning what we’re doing and they’re going to have to step up and play because we need more speed.”

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