I’m sure you all know, but to repeat the news from this afternoon. Defensive End Ejuan Price has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will require surgery. This will keep him out for the entire 2014 season. To say Price has had some issues with injuries is putting it kindly.
2012: Missed entire season with torn right pectoral muscle.
2013: Missed 7 out of 13 games with back problems.
2014 Will miss entire season with torn left pectoral muscle.
In a normal career, Price would be heading into his senior year. As it stands, he is looking at earning a rare 6th year for 2016. That’s about the only good news from a Pitt fan perspective.
When he is healthy, Price is an excellent DE that makes the whole D-line better. With him out, though, one of the very thin positions on the team is that much more precarious.
His injury depletes an already-thin position for the Panthers. Senior David Durham and sophomore Shakir Soto are the likely starters at defensive end, but Price’s absence could mean an increased role for redshirt freshman Luke Maclean or even freshman Rori Blair.
There is also redshirt freshman Justin Moody and freshman Shane Roy, but they didn’t play in the WPIAL so let’s not concern ourselves too much with them (and yes, I know neither did Maclean, but if you are going to ignore another redshirt freshman and true freshman that are considered about equal to mention a WPIAL player, well…).
I feel bad for Price. He’s had nothing but bad luck with injuries and their severity.
The entire defensive line was going to be a question mark after losing Aaron Donald and Tryon Ezell inside. We may be getting ready for 2013 mid-season level concerns about the O-line for the D-line heading into the season. NO! I’m not panicking. Really!
Now, Sam Werner at the P-G doesn’t think this means much of a change for James Conner. At least for this year.
Conner is a running back, first and foremost (and a good one, at that). Whatever role he plays on defense was always going to be determined by the workload he can physically handle, and that’s still the case. Unless the coaching staff has a very different vision for Conner’s future, I have a hard time believing they’d take a guy that ran for 799 yards as a true freshman and move him to the other side of the ball just to fill a numbers hole. He might have more of an opportunity to play some snaps based on Price’s injury, but I don’t think it means Conner will become a regular in the defensive end rotation.
I’m not so sure. There is ignoring the fact that Issac Bennett is still there, and up until the Pizza Bowl, he was not that different from Conner’s production. Plus incoming freshman Chris James. Then there is the fact that Conner himself, at least seems to be cautiously acknowledging that the longer term potential — NFL/economically — may be at DE.
I don’t know what the right choice on that aspect will be. I would hope that the Pitt coaches are emphasizing opportunities for any DEs they are recruiting for the 2015 class.