PITTSBURGH — One of the big questions entering the 2019 spring football season will be how Pitt plans to replace graduated fullback George Aston.
Former walk-on Jim Medure has been moved to his fourth position in as many seasons, moving from tight end to fullback in an apparent quest to replace Aston after previously serving as a defensive end and a linebacker.
Aston himself gave his recommendation of Medure for the job after his pro day workout on Wednesday:
But the correct answer might end up being no one.
During Pitt’s offensive walkthrough on Thursday, the Panthers exclusively lined up in a three-receiver formation with one back and one tight end.
Pitt has had well-publicized issues adding depth at the tight end position, and until Rutgers transfer Nakia Griffin-Stewart joins the fold this summer, they’re pretty thin at that spot. Medure is the only scholarship player working with the fullback group.
So it could be a matter of convenience for Pitt to work three-deep by using more receivers.
But it could also be a matter of preference. That’s the formation that new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple preferred in his previous stop at UMass.
Wide receiver also seems to be one of Pitt’s deeper position groups, with all but one player returning from 2018 (Rafael Araujo-Lopes). Between Maurice Ffrench, Taysir Mack, Aaron Matthews and Tre Tipton, Pitt has plenty of experience, and there’s also untapped potential in players like Shocky Jacques-Louis and Dontavius Butler-Jenkins.
Walk-throughs at practice cannot be filmed, but here’s Pitt’s receivers working on tandem routes that involve two receivers on the same side of the field — a hallmark of three-receivers formations.
Pitt has used its running backs as passing threats to various degrees over the years, but they haven’t had a running back that was much of a deep threat in the passing game in quite some time.
With speedsters V’Lique Carter, Vincent Davis, Mychale Salahuddin all at the position, that could change in 2019.
On Thursday’s Pitt’s backs were working on the whole passing route tree, including some deep routes. Check it out:
One of the things that made the Pitt running game so successful in 2018 was the ability of Pitt’s offensive linemen to get to their second-level blocking assignments.
Pitt is breaking in four new starters on the offensive line, but offensive line coach Dave Borbely seems to want that to be a strength of the new unit, as well. He had his charges working on exploding to the second level on Thursday.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Check out the rest of the sights and sounds from Pitt’s fourth spring practice.