The excitement around Pitt Wednesday was about exactly who would be on the field at Heinz Saturday and what teams they would play on, but those who will not be on the field Saturday have also generated a storyline.
Some key starters and younger players who would’ve liked to make an impact on a big stage will not be playing Saturday, so let’s take a look at who’s out.
Gabe Houy and Owen Drexel were assigned to the Gold team as seniors by the coaching staff, so Pitt’s starting center and right guard will be out of commission on Saturday. The pair aren’t in any real danger of being passed up, so younger players on the line will get a chance to shine.
Rodney Hammond Jr. was the first injury selection in the draft, and Pat Narduzzi said that Hammond could have a chance to go Saturday, so we’ll have to wait and see Saturday.
Nate Yarnell will not take the field Saturday. It’s a disappointing result for a player who many would’ve liked to see in some game action after not playing last season as a true freshman.
Terrence Moore, another redshirt freshman, would have likely played a fair amount at center in the spring, but he will also be sitting out on Saturday with an injury.
Marquan Pope and Stephon Hall will not play Saturday, in another unfortunate result for a couple of exciting, young players who earned praise throughout the spring. Pope made some noise at Star linebacker, and Hall impressed coaches out as a boundary safety.
The third member of Pitt’s offensive line not playing Saturday, starting right tackle Jake Kradel will not play after missing the early portion of the spring as he rehabbed from a season-ending injury in 2021. Taylor Branson hasn’t played this spring, and he will also miss out on Saturday as he rehabs.
Taelen Brooks will also miss out on Saturday. The walk-on running back will not have a chance to showcase the improvements he’s made during his first year in the program.
Tyler Bentley, who will likely be a starter for Pitt along the defensive line in 2022, will not play Saturday. His absence will give some younger players the opportunity to make a name on the big stage.
The duo of Judson Tallandier and Jahvante Royal will not play Saturday. The defensive backs will join Hall in not being able to showcase any of their spring improvement on the field.
Buddy Mack, who converted from safety to linebacker this spring, is another unfortunate absence Saturday. Narduzzi spoke positively of Mack’s progress this spring, and he would add additional depth to a thin unit.