30 August 2011
It's finally here. Game week. And Todd Graham started it off by making some surprises on the depth chart:
-- Sophomore Shane Gordon, with one start to his resume, is No. 1 at weakside linebacker while fifth-year senior Tristan Roberts, who started eight games last season, has shifted to strongside linebacker where he will behind Max Gruder.
-- Redshirt freshman Todd Thomas, who missed last season with a knee injury and spent 2009 at a prep school, will start at spur outside linebacker over fifth-year senior Greg Williams, who started 32 games at inside linebacker over the past three seasons before moving outside this year.
-- Walkon freshman Trey Anderson, who arrived so late that his name does not appear in the media guide, will be the first quarterback off the bench. Graham said Wannstedt recruit Mark Myers also will play, but when he talks about the ability to run the offense, Graham calls Anderson "a little operator."
("Little operator?" Please never change, Coach Graham. Kind of reminds me of another Texan who always gave people dopey, unwanted nick-names. Hopefully the comparisons end there.)
Anyway, Todd Thomas over Greg Williams is a mild upset, but not totally unexpected. Anytime you have an experienced starter passed by a guy who's never played a down of college football, it's a story. Same with Shane Gordon over Tristian Roberts.
Anderson over Meyers isn't a surprise either, at least if you've been keeping up with DiPaola and Zeise during camp, but it's still a walk-on freshman passing a former four-star player on the depth chart:
But sometimes, it's more than talent. Physically, Anderson is 4 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than Myers, who may have the strongest arm on the team.
But quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge tried to recruit Anderson to North Texas State, before he was fired, and coaxed him to Pitt when he was planning to attend Tyler (Texas) Junior College.
"Mark is a great thrower, accurate with the deep ball," Graham said. "Trey is a little operator, very accurate with the intermediate passing game. Those guys have battled tremendously. We have a lot of confidence in both of those guys.
"But the first guy, if something happened, will be Trey."
And then there's the other freshman. A lot was made about the destruction of Dave Wannstedt's recruiting class and the quick construction of Todd Graham's less heralded class. Well, there are 18 freshmen (including RS freshmen) on the two-deep, so it would appear that Graham at least got the players that he wants. Whether those players are ultimately good enough to win more games than not in a BCS conference is yet to be seen, but they do at least appear to be the guys that Graham wants in his system.
[Lafayette] Pitts will be one of three Woodland Hills graduates (all freshmen) who will be key backups this season, including nose tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith and outside linebacker Ejuan Price. "Price is a starter in my mind," said Graham, noting that Price and starting Panther Brandon Lindsey play at the same time on third downs.
Pitts is the backup "bandit" safety (the corner/safety hybrid). I have no idea what kind of talent Woodland Hills has coming up through the pipes, but I'd imagine it could be an easy sell to get them to Oakland.
And maybe most importantly, Pitt made it through the spring and summer without an significant injuries. Phew.
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