April 12, 2012
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Pitt Spring Drills — Day 14 Practice Notebook & Quote Sheet
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Final Practice: Coach Paul Chryst oversaw a two-hour workout this morning at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex. With outside temperatures only reaching the high 30s at the start of practice, the Panthers went indoors dressed in full gear.
It was the final practice before Saturday’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.
“It went too fast but it was good,” Chryst said in evaluating spring drills. “I think it has been productive. Did we achieve everything we wanted to? Probably not, but it’s been good and I wish we had more.
“We just have to make sure we finish off strong on Saturday.”
Previewing Saturday: Saturday’s Spring Football Festival will begin with the Pitt football team hosting a youth clinic (boys and girls in 8th grade and under) beginning at 11:30 a.m. Participants will receive personal instruction from the players and staff on football fundamentals right on the playing field at Martorelli Stadium.
The Blue-Gold Scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m. The scrimmage will be situational and not utilize any scoring system.
“We’re going to treat it as another practice and not look at it like it’s a game,” senior center Ryan Turnley said. “This is another opportunity for us to get better.”
Home Run Hitter: For the third time this spring, sophomore running back Isaac Bennett broke a long touchdown run. On Thursday, Bennett broke through the line and shifted into a higher gear to get past the secondary en route to a 70-yard score.
Earlier this spring the Tulsa native had touchdown jaunts of 50 and 70 yards.
Street, who had three total TD catches on Thursday, is finishing the spring in strong fashion.
“My goal for this spring was to finish strong, come out here each day and give it all I’ve got,” Street said. “I think I still have a lot of work to do, but I think I made the right strides. Now it’s just maintaining it, staying consistent and holding it in the offseason and summer.”
Paul Chryst also took note of Street’s finish to spring drills.
“He (Devin) got off to a decent start this spring but I thought he hit a lull and didn’t necessarily move forward in the middle,” Chryst said. “But now he is back on track where he should be. He’s on the rise. He should do that and every guy should do that. Every day you have to come out here and you have to compete and work to get better. I agree that he has improved over the last couple of days and he should.”
Street said the offense as a whole advanced this spring.
“I think we made progress. It was a new offense and new coaching staff so everyone was just getting used to it,” Street said. “I saw towards the end we’re a lot more comfortable, especially in today’s scrimmage. The offensive line, quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, everyone, I think we’re doing great as a whole and we just have to keep proceeding.”
Building a Foundation: Senior safety Andrew Taglianetti believes a strong base was established for the defense this spring that should yield results come September.
“It’s been a good spring camp. I think we’ve really adjusted well to this new system, these new coaches,” Taglianetti said. “I think we got a lot of good work in heading into fall camp. I’m excited. I remember the first couple days everyone’s head was just everywhere because of the new system and kind of getting adjusted to these practices. But now you can just feel we’re a lot more relaxed and a lot more confident. I think it shows. That’s huge going into fall camp where we really start getting ready for our opponents.”
Visiting VIPs: Area high school head coaches in attendance included Bob Palko (West Allegheny), Jim Funk (Girard), Jim Wehner (Baldwin), Bill Brest (Hickory) and former Pitt offensive lineman Mike Bosnic (Washington). Additional visitors included Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) head coach Curt Cignetti, who was accompanied by two of his assistants, former Pitt quarterbacks Rod Rutherford and Luke Getsy. Cignetti previously served as a Pitt assistant coach under Foge Fazio, John Majors and Walt Harris. Also on hand today was Pittsburgh Power head coach Chris Siegfried.
Eager and Ready: Incoming freshman linebacker Mike Caprara, the all-time leading tackler in Woodland Hills High School history, visited practice for the second time this week.
Pitt Football Marathon on Comcast: Comcast digital customers living in Western Pennsylvania and parts of Central Pennsylvania can watch an eight-hour marathon of Pitt football programming this Sunday, April 15, beginning at 11 a.m. The Comcast Network (channel 188 or 210) will air all four episodes of “Pitt Spring Insider,” past Paul Chryst press conferences and a taped two-hour broadcast of the Blue-Gold Scrimmage. For specific program times, click on this link: Pitt Panthers Television.
From Pitt to Canton: The Pro Football Hall of Fame will add more Pitt Blue and Gold this year when defensive end Chris Doleman and running back Curtis Martin are enshrined in August.
Fans attending Saturday’s spring scrimmage will have a chance to win prizes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will have a tent on site at Martorelli Stadium. Prize opportunities include the “Canton or Bust Sweepstakes,” which gives fans the chance to win a trip to the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival and a $1,000 shopping spree in the Hall of Fame store.
Pitt's total of eight Pro Football Hall of Famers ranks tied for third among all colleges, trailing only Southern California (11) and Notre Dame (10). The Panthers are tied with Ohio State and Michigan.
Curtis Visits the Hall: Former Pitt star Curtis Martin visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week in anticipation of his Aug. 4 enshrinement. Martin sat down for a video interview while in Canton and discussed what it means for him to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Video link: “Martin Checks Out New Home”
Sweet Benefits: Former Pitt football players Torrie Cox, Kris Wilson and Lousaka Polite will host “Dessert Tasting For A Cause” from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday at Larrimor`s in Downtown Pittsburgh. The event, now in its fourth year, will benefit the youth foundations of the three former Pitt stars, each of whom went on to productive NFL careers.
Guests will sample desserts from several outstanding Pittsburgh bakeries and restaurants, and have the opportunity to mingle with many past Pitt football greats in attendance.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to DessertTastingForACause.com.
Pitt Spring Football Media Quote Sheet
On the biggest thing achieved this spring:
“Just starting to build the foundation of everything. Also, us getting to know the players and them getting to know us, which is the biggest thing.”
On doing a lot of full-contact work in recent practices before the spring scrimmage:
“I think what the group needs more than anything is just playing. That is what we are trying to accomplish out of that.”
On whether the players respond better to doing more live work:
“They should, the good players and the guys that like the game I think respond to that. If you don’t love the game then it’s pretty hard. They need to keep playing so we can find out who can play and who likes to play under stress situations. If you practice third down then there are ramifications – there is a winner and a loser – and a lot of good things that come out of it.”
On picking two starters from four quality players at safety:
“I think you keep playing and, boy, would that be great if that was the problem. They need to keep going. The real competition is within yourself and are you being the best player you can be. The other stuff will work out. If you’re a good football player and you can do it consistently then you will play a lot of football.”
“You have to be smart because they are coming off of injuries so you have to integrate them that way (with sensitivity to their health). You really don’t worry about anything other than getting them back in. The first thing with coming back from an injury is getting your confidence back. At the same time, they will be learning and playing a little bit of catch up. Now they also have experience so that should accelerate their learning because they have been around it. There are a lot of things that go on at the same time. You understand too that you are getting ready a season.”
On the linebackers:
“Early on it was learning where to line up and what to do. When you start to get a feel for it and play enough then you get a feel for who they are. We have to make sure they are in the right spots. I think they’re progressing. We don’t really have a bar that says that they have to get to this certain level on this day, this week, or this spring practice. You just keep going. It’s really fluid if everyone is working to be the best they can be. It’s an old cliché but it’s so true. You just have to work and play with the best guys.”
“Yes, and they should because they are pretty good players. You have to do it consistently. Once you do that, once you show them you can do it, and you have proven yourself then you have to do it again. If you can do it under all those circumstances then you’ve got a player.”
On getting the ball in the end zone today during 11-on-11:
“Yes, and they should. Good for them. That’s the deal and that is the fun thing about this. Every play there is a winner and a loser. You have to compete.”
On whether Paul Chryst considers himself a hard coach to impress:
“Honestly, I have never spent any time thinking about it so I don’t know the answer. I’m not a hard guy to gain respect from. None of us know what the limit is and if you set that bar at a certain limit then you might be short-changing them. You appreciate and see them progress. Why are you going to set a bar here if it’s supposed to be higher? You just keep going. Are you the best you can be? You don’t know so you have to keep working.”
On the many alumni and high school coaches attending spring practice:
“We want that atmosphere. You hope that they feel welcome. I think it’s great. You think about a guy who has played here and is now supporting the program. That is pretty good when you have them around. You get to know them and names become faces and people you recognize. I value that a lot so that part has been good and I hope it continues.”
Quoting offensive line coach Jim Hueber
On emerging depth:
“Some of these other guys are starting to step up late in the spring, some of the guys that maybe previously were cast aside. I think we can get something serviceable out of those guys.”
“They’re still growing up. There’s not much experience there but they’re still growing up. They’ve done a lot of really good things. It’s my job now to make sure we get them over the hump in the fall.”
Quoting secondary coach Matt House
On the young cornerbacks:
“I think they’ve gotten better over the spring but there’s still a huge learning curve. I tell them in meetings, every rep, every chance they get to watch a minute of tape is super valuable because that’s how they’re going to learn.”
Quoting senior safety Andrew Taglianetti
On the competition at safety:
“We’ve got four guys who can play the safety spot. Unfortunately there are only two spots so especially when fall camp comes around it’s going to be every day where we’ll be fighting for our jobs. Even at the corner position I think we have four guys right now who can step in and start. I think the secondary needs to be the best part of this defense. We need to be solid back there and I think we have the guys to do it. It’s going to be interesting come around fall camp to see who really steps up and gets on the field early.”
On if the coaches will try to get as many safeties as possible on the field this season:
“Maybe even four. Obviously we’re undersized, (but) we all have a feel for the game, we’re all physical, we’re all fast. I think we can all get on the field and I think it would be smart to do that because we’re all proven players. Especially in certain situations in game planning and teams who are spread offenses, I think it would be smart to get all of us out there just because of our speed and our athleticism.”
On if that depth carries over into special teams:
“Yeah, I think wherever you go, a lot of special teams will be a lot of defensive guys. Especially punt and kickoff because that is basically defensive play. A lot of these guys who are fast and physical are guys who can be on special teams and be key factors. I think a lot of times we overlook special teams but it’s one-third of the game. We need to get our best players out there. I hope a lot of these guys are up to the challenge of getting on special teams and making a difference.”
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