Breaking Down Pitt's Depth Chart Part III: The Offensive Line
This year's O-Line reminds me of the the 2008 basketball team. Right now its pretty good despite the lack of depth. As soon as the unit suffers a key injury (just about any injury to any starter would constitute a key injury) the o-line is suddenly very mediocre.
Let's work left to right...
1. Jason Pinkston
2. Jordan Gibbs
Pinkston is a rock at left tackle with NFL potential. Jordan Gibbs at 6'7", 295 pounds has an intriguing build for the position but is still very green.
We learned just how important Pinkston was when he missed the Sun Bowl last year. Let's hope we don't lose him this year.
1. Joe Thomas
2. Chris Jacobson
This is the one position on the line where we have any semblance of depth. I'm not sure either of these guys are the caliber of Pinkston or Malecki but they seem to both be serviceable.
Joe Thomas has been a four-year starter. Last year he made great strides and while there might be an adjustment switching from tackle to guard, Thomas is past the point of making mental errors.
Jacobson has never started but was a former All-American, so the physical gifts are there. Whether he knows what he's doing yet remains to be seen. He might need another year until he's ready to shine.
1. Rob Houser
Alex Karabin is currently slated as the backup center, but there is talk that John Malecki would slide over to center should Houser get hurt again this season.
In addition to the fact that there doesn't really seem to be a clear-cut injury replacement for Houser, there doesn't seem to be a long term plan at center, either. Houser is a senior this year, nobody is sure who will play the position next year.
1. John Malecki
2. Ryan Turnley
Malecki is an absolute stud at guard. Turnley is unproven. This team cannot afford to lose Malecki, he is perhaps the least replaceable player on the team.
1. Lucas Nix
2. Greg Gaskins
Gaskins was projected as a center out of high school but for whatever reason hasn't been able to master the position at the college level. He has been moved to tackle where he will back up former High School All-American Lucas Nix.
Nix is unproven but undoubtedly talented. If he can live up to his potential, then he and Pinkston will be a pair of tackles that will frustrate defensive ends all year long.
Pitt needs the starting front to stay healthy in order to give their unproven backs as much margin for error as possible.
The offense is not built to withstand any injuries or inconsistent play from their five starting linemen. If something goes wrong with the line, we could be heading straight for 6-6 and a trip to Toronto.
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