Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

It has been a battle that has been ongoing since the spring. Pitt has three players vying to be the starting two offensive tackles for the 2021 season.

Carter Warren is the incumbent at left tackle. The 6’5” and 320-pound senior has started 21 games at the spot over the course of the past two seasons. Gabe Houy played guard in 2019, but ended up starting eight games at right tackle last season.

Then there is Matt Goncalves, a 6’6” and 320-pound sophomore entering his third season with the Pitt program. Goncalves earned the start at left tackle for three games last season, and was even named a freshman All-American for his efforts.

It has been a tight battle between those three, but one that has yet to be settled according to Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

“When you look at it: Gabe Houy, Goncalves, and Carter obviously at the tackle spot,” Narduzzi said ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “It’s almost like a three-man rotation, all three of those guys we feel good with starting.”

As for Goncalves, he wants one of the starting jobs and has been feeling confident about how he has gone about trying to earn it during fall camp.

“I feel like I’ve been doing well,” the Long Island native said. “I’ve had a couple of good days here, couple of mistake days there, but I’ve still got a lot to work on and finish up. But I think I’m having a great camp, competing everyday, and looking to take that starting role hopefully.”

Despite his own personal confidence, Goncalves is still quick to credit the players older than him. It has been a battle ongoing for months, and things still appear to be open for now.

“I think we’re all battling as hard together as a team,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done enough, but I still have got to give credit to the seniors. They’re doing a lot too, we’re all doing a lot on the field. So we’ll see what happens.”

Perhaps the confidence Goncalves possesses comes from the three starts he made in 2020. With Warren sidelined, he promptly stepped in as a redshirt freshman and played well.

In his initial start, the Panthers racked up 47 points against Virginia Tech. He also got valuable experience playing Clemson on the road the following week, and contributed to big a rushing day against Georgia Tech in the season finale.

“It helped me tremendously just with confidence,” he said on getting three starts last year.

Narduzzi also noted there is a four-man battle for the three interior offensive line spots. So while the individual position battles rage on, Goncalves believes the greater purpose of the unit is strengthening during camp.

“I think we’re all coming together as a good squad right now,” he said. “We had a great offseason together. We’ve been working everyday after weight lifting. So it’s been good, I think we’re all coming together and I think it’s going to be a great year for us.”

The main objective of course is to help fix the running game. Pitt averaged just 119.9 yards per game on the ground a year ago, but did finish on a high note with a 317-yard outburst in the season finale. Goncalves believes the running game is making strides during camp.

“I do see it get better,” he said. “I think it’s time to step up and I think we all know our responsibilities and we know what to do and we know how to really control a run game.”