When the Pitt Panthers opened the 2014 season, many people were excited to potentially see running back James Conner line up on both sides of the ball.
That naturally hasn’t happened yet with Conner’s solid start to the season, but it looks like we will get to see the sophomore line up at defensive end Thursday night when the Panthers play host to Virginia Tech.
“I’m going to get that thing going this week on the defensive side of the ball,” Conner said. “I’ll be out there Thursday.”
Conner leads the ACC in rushing yards (874) and touchdowns (nine), also ranking fifth and seventh nationally in those categories. He worked at defensive end a lot during camp, but the situation has not yet come up to where he has seen any game action.
He was an all-state defensive lineman as a Pennsylvania high school junior in 2011 and will be a rush end in spot situations. I would expect that to be on a very limited basis though as Pitt head coach is likely just looking for Conner to help give the Panthers’ defense a spark.
Conner spent a few snaps as a pass-rush “specialist” on defense against Bowling Green last year in the Little Caesars Bowl and even drew a big holding penalty late in a Pitt three-point victory.
If Conner does indeed play on the defensive side of the ball Thursday night, I would expect to see backup running backs Chris James, Rachid Ibrahim and Isaac Bennett get more carries.
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