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Pitt Football

Sights and Sounds from Pitt Practice: Kicking Battle, Line Rotations

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As Pitt’s depth chart continues to shake out during the eleventh training camp practice, some position groups have an embarrassment of riches—others, like the kicking room, leave something to be desired.

OFFENSIVE LINE-UP

The starting offensive line is nearly finalized, but head coach Pat Narduzzi said that they have more capable starters than positions for them to play at. 

Narduzzi said that Maryland graduate transfer Marcus Minor, Owen Drexel, Jake Kradel and Blake Zubovic can all play inside at guard and center, leaving three spots for four players. 

At tackle, either Gabe Houy, Carter Warren or Matt Goncalves will be the odd man out, although there’s more flexibility there if the Panthers use a swing tackle in the running game. 

The offensive line also received reinforcements in the form of Ohio State 6-foot-5 and 305 pound transfer Ryan Jacoby, a redshirt sophomore who joined the Panthers on August 15. A former four-star recruit, Jacoby will need a waiver to play this season because he transferred after the July 1 deadline, but he’ll be a name to watch moving forward. 

“He looks athletic, I think he can play tackle or guard,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a great addition, what we were looking for.”

Here’s the offensive line working on blocking drills Wednesday.

DEFENSIVE END ROTATION

The defensive ends are in a similar position, with Habakkuk Baldonado, Dayon Hayes, Deslin Alexandre and John Morgan III competing for two spots. Narduzzi suggested the starters could change weekly.

“We’ll find out game week who’s starting,” Narduzzi said. “All four of those guys are guys we think can make a lot of plays for us.” 

KICKING BATTLE

Narduzzi said that the battle between Ben Sauls and Sam Scarton to replace kicker Alex Kessman is tightly contested.

“Scrimmage day they were both outstanding,” Narduzzi said. “It seems like they’re neck and neck, every day they’re both good, they’re neck and neck very good, or they’re neck and neck not very good.”

The two had a rough practice outing Tuesday. Sauls went 2-for-5 and Scarton went 3-for-5.

“Field goals and stuff, it’s a work in progress right now,” Narduzzi said. 

While the kickers’ precision has been up and down, the kickoff battle has a clear leader. 

“Ben Sauls is probably the kickoff guy,” Narduzzi said. “He’s got that, he’s knocking it into the end zone.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
Duquesne FB

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