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September 10, 2012

Pitt makes depth chart changes

With a win-less start and two brutal losses on record in 2012, the Pitt coaching staff made several adjustments to its official depth chart, which was released on Monday.

The biggest change came in the secondary, where redshirt senior Jarred Holley and redshirt junior Jason Hendricks are listed as the starting safeties. On the first two depth charts of the season, redshirt sophomore Ray Vinopal was listed as the starting strong safety, and Holley and redshirt senior Andrew Taglianetti were listed as the co-starters at free safety.

Taglianetti and Vinopal started the season opener against Youngstown State but were pulled after the second series. Holley and Hendricks replaced them on the third series, stayed in the lineup for the remainder of that game, and played the entire Cincinnati game.

Holley, a three-year starter and two-time all-Big East player, is currently Pitt's second-leading tackler with 16 stops, and he leads the team with 10 solo tackles. He started 34 consecutive games prior to the 2012 opener. Hendricks is third on the team in tackles with 11; he started five games in 2010 and the first seven games of the 2011 season before suffering a shoulder injury.

Taglianetti and Vinopal both appeared in the Cincinnati game on special teams. So far this season Taglianetti has seven tackles and Vinopal has three.

Pitt also adjusted the two-deep on the defensive line this week. Redshirt sophomore Bryan Murphy moved into the starting lineup at defensive end, replacing redshirt junior Jack Lippert, who started the first two games and recorded five tackles and one tackle for loss. The coaches moved Lippert to a backup role behind redshirt sophomore T.J. Clemmings and inserted redshirt freshman Devin Cook as the reserve behind Murphy. Redshirt senior Shayne Hale does not appear on this week's depth chart.

The Pitt coaches are looking for answers on defense after the Panthers struggled mightily in consecutive games. After losses to Youngstown State and Cincinnati, Pitt ranks in the bottom third nationally in rush defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, and scoring defense. The Panthers are worst against the run, where they have allowed an average of 237.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 106 in the country.

The only change in the offensive depth chart is at backup wide receiver. Sophomore Ronald Jones - zero receptions through two games - is no longer on the two-deep; senior Joshua Brinson - three catches for 59 yards and one touchdown - is now listed as a backup behind Devin Street.

Pitt (0-2, 0-1) will host No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-0) at Heinz Field for a noon kickoff on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

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