Caught in a three-way battle to not become the odd man out at one of the Panthers’ two offensive tackle spots, redshirt sophomore Matt Goncalves is using the opportunity to learn from older members of the line like Gabe Houy and Carter Warren.
“We’re all battling hard together, as a team,” Goncalves said. “I feel like I’ve done enough, but I’ve still gotta give some credit to the seniors, they’re doing a lot too.”
It seems clear that Goncalves is the future. How long it takes for him to surpass Warren or Houy remains to be seen. It’s an interesting position for him to be in, learning from the seniors as he tries to take their jobs.
“I think we’re all coming together as a good squad right now. We’ve had a great offseason together, we’ve been working every day after our weight lifting,” Goncalves said. “It’s going to be a great year for us.”
Iron sharpens iron, and Goncalves mentioned that practicing against Pitt’s vaunted defensive line every day in practice has given him an edge as he continues to hone his craft.
“You won’t find a better defensive line,” Goncalves said.
Goncalves said that left tackle is his natural position. He started the final three games there in 2020 filling in for Carter Warren, the incumbent, and was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America for his efforts.
The mythos surrounding the left tackle position has grown in recent years as protecting the quarterback’s blind side gains even more importance in a pass-happy game.
“I’ve been playing there my whole life,” Goncalves said. “I like taking the responsibility, it makes me feel a little bit more important.”
Head coach Pat Narduzzi may have other ideas though, as he said on Wednesday that quarterback Kenny Pickett likes having Warren on his blind side.