10/10/2011 - The offensive line is injured with both starting guards out, but that gives no comfort to battered QB Tino Sunseri. Sunseri was sacked six times by Rutgers and has been sacked 28 times in six games. The pressure led to four interceptions being thrown by Pitt, three of them from Sunseri as he completed 14 of 28 for only 127 yards. Pitt played the Rutgers game without senior OGs Lucas Nix and Chris Jacobson, both out with knee injuries. Jacobson is out for the year but Nix is expected to return, although there is no timetable. - The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh's offensive line struggles forced coaches to make the best of a desperate situation in 2010.
To protect quarterback Tino Sunseri and run future fifth-round pick Dion Lewis more effectively, they shifted Nix from right tackle to right guard and moved 6-7, 315-pound junior Jordan Gibbs into the starting lineup at Nix's old spot. The team won seven of its last 10 games, averaging nearly 28 points a game and topping 200 rushing yards in four contests.
Nix spent his first two years with the Panthers at right tackle, playing six games as a reserve in his true freshman season before moving into the starting line-up in all 13 games in 2009.
But his senior season wasn't the coming-out party many expected. A knee injury -- dislocated kneecap and ligament strain -- kept him out of five-plus games. He wasn't an ideal fit in new coach Todd Graham's schemes in 2011.
While Nix could get a chance at tackle at the next level, he may face difficulties against NFL speed on the outside without substantial improvement in his lateral movement. Playing inside allows him take advantage of his strength and toughness at the point of attack and fair mobility to the second level, which will gain him favor among NFL scouts and offensive line coaches alike during the draft season.
Pass blocking: Works hard to keep his quarterback clean but lacks lateral movement to stay outside at the next level. Anchors well when leaning into defenders and uses effort and length to ride defenders around or through the pocket. Bends at the waist, and will overextend at times, due to a lack of upper-body and hip flexibility. Stronger defenders can also get under his pads to push him back. Uses effort and length to recover, but NFL defenders with strong hands will get him off-balance (especially one-on-one in space) easily unless his stance and knee bend improves.
Run blocking: Solid drive-blocker who gets push off the snap and churns his legs to move the pile. Pushes around second-level defenders when his head is up and feet underneath him. Has upper-body strength and tenacity to turn defenders out of the hole. Forward momentum allows him to move on to the next target if his man goes to the ground. Does not latch onto defenders with his hands consistently, they can roll off his block after initial contact to get involved in plays. Struggles to get low in his stance. Generally effective as a cut blocker, though pro tackles could defeat him with their hands more easily.
Pulling/trapping: Possesses the mobility to trap effectively inside and move outside the tackle on occasion. Hit-and-miss connecting and sustaining against targets, though, as he regularly bends at the waist, drops his head and sometimes leaves his feet to make the block. Gets down quickly to put defenders getting into the backfield on the ground. Inconsistent attacking linebackers at the second level, hesitates at times, allowing quicker defenders to elude him.
Initial Quickness: Inconsistent quickness off the snap, sometimes coming up last. Come off low and hard on run plays when in sync with the center. Gets to second level quickly when uncovered, but Has trouble stopping to adjust to quick linebackers and defensive backs because he lacks bend and flexibility.
Downfield: Lacks foot speed to be a major threat as a lead blocker outside, but flashes the ability to reach linebackers and safeties outside the box. Excellent hustle on extended plays, constantly follows the ballcarriers into (or past) the second level to help push them for an extra yard. Effective cut blocker, stays low out of his stance, get down quickly to take out defenders just below the knees.
Intangibles: Full-effort player with a team-first attitude. Cited for disorderly conduct in March 2009. Brother, Nate, is a senior defensive end at Pitt.