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March 18, 2017

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi
 
Opening Statement:
"First day in pads, obviously an intense day, lots of enthusiasm. We had guys flying around. I liked what I saw. We'll look at the tape and see who made good plays for the offense, who made good plays for the defense. We had a couple of live situations, a lot of times trying to keep the ball off the ground. We need to make sure we can make it through 15 days, we don't want to lose all of our energy in one day. Overall, a lot of contact today."
 
On if they've determined backups for the offensive line:
"Until we watch the tape, I would say no. I would say that it is still a work in progress. It's hard to say which freshmen and sophomores will come in and play early; it's just as hard to say we have a backup offensive lineman after the first day of pad practice. The one guy that we have been impressed with is Jerry Drake. He's been playing right tackle and he doesn't look like he's a freshman. That's the one guy that I would say, if he keeps going, he's going to challenge some people."
 
On his impressions of tight end Chris Clark:
"Chris has been good. He's got soft hands, but I'll look at his run game. It's easier to see him when he's wide open. We've seen him run down the field, he's got those soft hands, and he can run. He asked me the other day saying, `coach, what did I look like today?' I said `you have to get better at blocking.' You have to watch the tape to see his blocking and if he did the right thing. Overall, I've seen a lot of good things out of Chris Clark."
 
On if Chris Clark can contribute like Scott Orndoff:
"There's no doubt about it. Chris Clark is a great athlete. We just need to get him as sound as Scott was."
 
On if Devon Edwards playing tight end again:
"He is playing tight again. We moved Devon back over. We watched him play on defense and felt that we needed a tight end more. We felt that, with the depth we have on defense right now, he needs to go to offense and help us there."
 
On the encouraging signs he's seen out of the defense:
"I'm really excited about the defensive front. I feel like we have some more depth up there than we've had in the past. We're rotating Patrick Jones II in there. Deslin [Alexandre] is playing, and Kaezon Pugh has made some nice plays out there as well. Keyshon Camp has been playing really well. I feel like we've got some young guys in there, and we've got numbers to work with so we can stay healthy."
 
On moving Saleem Brightwell around at linebacker:
"It's always good to have those guys that can play a couple of different positions and know those positions as well. You always want going to play the best three linebackers. So if one of them goes down, you can move Saleem in there so you're playing your best guys at that spot instead of the backup linebacker, who is maybe your fifth or sixth best guy, at that spot. That's always something we look for. He's a football player; he loves the game. He's in there screaming and yelling and having fun out on the field."
 
On deciding which side of the ball Maurice Ffrench will play:
"We're not going to decide anything. He's going to play both sides for us. He's an extremely talented kid. We recruited him as a corner, but he can play on offense as well. I would say he's playing 60% on defense and 40% on offense. We're not deciding on anything; he's going to play both sides. He's playing really well and getting better every day."

 
Offensive Line Coach John Peterson
 
On his initial impressions of Brian O'Neill at left tackle:
"He's got work to do, just like we all do from day one. Offensive line is a lot of muscle memory, so when you switch it takes time to train the new body movements--the function of your pass sets and run fits."
 
On his thoughts on the personnel thus far and trying to find the right mix:
"That is the nature of spring. That is the exciting part of any new spring is you get a chance to reinvent yourself, come from left field and compete; that's what practice is about. The fun part of spring practice and coaching is you get a new group of guys who are excited and want to compete."
 
On if it's helpful having three guys who can play center:
"Yes. I think that's one position that it's important to have depth and have guys that have the skillset to snap the ball."
 
On what makes Connor Dintino a good fit at center:
"He was there all last year and has a lot of practice reps. Alex Officer could easily be a center also."
 
On his impression of Jaryd Jones-Smith so far:
"Jaryd is coming back and I expect a lot of improvement from him daily. Today was a good day with pads on to challenge everyone in the physical part of the game."

 
Running Back Chawntez Moss
 
On putting on pads from a running back perspective:
"When it's live, it's fun. That's the only time to really test everything out. We get a chance to break tackles and not have plays blown dead by a whistle."
 
On what he learned physically from his first college season last year:
"I learned to take care of my body better--use the facility more, use the resources that we have with the training room."
 
On how he and running backs coach Andre Powell evaluated his performance:
"From what we saw, it looked like I was hungrier in the beginning of the season and then that fire died out a little bit. I'm trying to get that fire back. Once you get hurt, you're not only hurt physically, but mentally as well. When you get out of the game and you're not playing for a long time, just getting back is a process."
 
On what he was able to learn from James Conner last season:
"James was like a big brother to me, to the entire team to be honest. James is one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of guys you're going to meet, so it was definitely special."

 
Cornerback Avonte Maddox
 
On the different mentality for the defense this year:
"So far we've played well. We're competing more on the deep balls and routes. So that's a good start for us right now."
 
On improving on finishing plays:
"Every day I tell the guys to go out there and compete until the end of the play. Even if you lose at the beginning of the play, compete until the very end of the play. You never know what's going to happen and it's a good mentality to have. When we watch film, we try to see what we're doing wrong and try to correct it."
 
On the secondary having a chip on their shoulders:
"We have a big chip on our shoulder. We're not happy about our performance last year, so we're going to come out here and make ourselves better so we can make the team better."
 
On if the talented younger players push the older players to be better:
"Yeah, definitely. We have some of the younger guys like [Maurice] Ffrench and Dane [Jackson] stepping up and making good plays. We have a lot of good, young players stepping up and making plays."
 

Offensive Lineman Connor Dintino

On if he has liked working at center:
"There is a little more thinking at center, but I do like it. I have great help with Alex [Officer] right next to me. I get a lot of help from him since he played center last year."

On where the coaches project him to end up:
"We haven't really talked about it. Right now, it's just `let's go play, let's get after it today and keep getting better.'"
 
On what it's like to move around the offensive line:
"You have to be ready for sudden change. You have to be ready, know every position, know what everyone is doing, so I think the big thing is to keep expanding my knowledge."
 
Offensive Lineman Jaryd Jones-Smith
 
On the feel in the locker room with the departures of Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson:
"It's definitely different. It's only me and Alex Officer left in the locker room from our class, so it's definitely a different feeling. We are stepping up to the plate to do our job."
 
On if he expected to be moved to the right side of the line:
"Yes. I had a feeling, but it's still spring time so you never know how things can change."
 
On building cohesion with a group doing a lot of rotating:
"It's the spring time. This is the time to see what works and what doesn't work. It's a time to build and see what happens."
 
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Pitt Football Spring Drills: Day 3 Recap

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