Pitt coach Paul Chryst said today that he expects cornerbacks Titus Howard and Trenton Coles to miss the North Carolina games with injuries. Both were hurt at different points during Pitt's 28-21 win against Notre Dame Saturday.
With those two out, Chryst said Jahmahl Pardner and EJ Banks to take over as the primary backups at the cornerback spot. Pardner is a redshirt freshman who played last year before tearing his ACL in the third game of the season (and taking a medical redshirt). Chryst said he is slowly still working back to where he was pre-injury.
"I do think he's getting where he's playing," Chryst said. "I think in camp, certainly, there's that feeling out. You're not quite sure, he hadn't gone through spring ball and do you trust it? I think we're certainly past that point. I think he's just going out and playing. He's not thinking about it."
Banks is a redshirt senior who transferred to Pitt from Notre Dame prior to the 2011 season. A Montour graduate, he has played in just one game this year.
The absence of Howard and Coles could be especially impactful against a North Carolina team that runs a high-tempo spread offense. In most situations, Pitt would probably play a good part of the game in their nickel defensive package with an extra defensive back (or even two) on the field. Without Coles and Howard, the Panthers may have to stick more in their base set, which would have linebackers like Anthony Gonzalez out in space in coverage more (for what it's worth, Gonzalez looked pretty good in coverage on the final play of the Notre Dame game).
"We'll have enough [defensive backs]," Chryst said. "It might be an opportunity for guys. You've got to step up and step in."