April 13, 2013
PITTSBURGH--The University of Pittsburgh football team concluded spring drills Friday evening with the annual Blue-Gold Scrimmage, held this year at Bethel Park Stadium. The Panthers' scrimmaged for nearly two hours in their 15th and final workout of the spring.
"I think we worked and got better," second-year Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said in assessing the entire spring. "We also got a little bit more physical. Guys have a little bit better of an understanding. I think we made some strides, but we have to be productive this summer."
Pitt will be breaking in a new quarterback for the first time in three years. Senior Tom Savage and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik took the majority of the top repetitions this spring. In limited time Friday night, Savage completed 6-of-11 passes for 80 yards, while Voytik completed 27 of 33 for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Chryst indicated in his postgame comments the plan was for Voytik to get the majority of the reps in the final scrimmage.
Junior tight end Manasseh Garner, in his first active season at Pitt after transferring from Wisconsin, concluded his productive spring by hauling in 10 passes for 100 yards. Junior wideout Kevin Weatherspoon took scrimmage-high honors with 11 receptions for 175 yards, including a 65-yard TD.
"When it comes to all of our quarterbacks, they are the best that there will be," Weatherspoon said. "As wide receivers, as long as we do our job of getting open, they will get us the ball."
On the ground, junior Isaac Bennett rambled for 114 yards on 20 carries (5.7 avg.). A backup most of the past two seasons, Bennett is eyeing the starting tailback job vacated by 1,000-yard rusher Ray Graham. Senior Desmond Brown is also competing for carries this year and finished the spring by rushing for 90 yards on 18 carries (5.0 avg.).
"Like my coach told me, we're all up for grabs for starting spots," Bennett said. "So we're all pushing each other because at the end of the day we're just trying to get that `W' so we all try to help each other get better."
Defensively, redshirt freshman middle linebacker Mike Caprara had a scrimmage-best 12 tackles. Senior Jack Lippert and sophomore Devin Cook each collected two sacks from their respective defensive end spots.
Prior to the scrimmage, the Pitt coaching staff selected the 2013 winners of the Ed Conway Award, annually presented to the most improved players of spring drills. Junior tackle T.J. Clemmings was the offensive recipient, while senior nose tackle Tyrone Ezell was honored on the defensive side.
It was the second Conway recognition for Ezell, who was also honored in 2011.
"This year I am more comfortable," Ezell said. "I am more confident in my abilities. Coming in as a second-year starter, I feel like I am more comfortable and know what to expect from a game and from practice."
Clemmings is in his first spring on offense after playing defensive end.
"I'm having some fun and I'm enjoying playing offensive line," Clemmings said. "Coach (Jim) Hueber is a great (offensive line) coach. He gets on you, but only because he wants you to do well. He's helped me grow a whole lot in a short amount of time."
The 2013 season marks Pitt's first as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers will open the year with a highly anticipated showdown with defending ACC and Sugar Bowl champ Florida State on Sept. 2 at Heinz Field on Labor Day.
For season-ticket information, log on to PittsburghPanthers.com or call (800) 643-PITT.
Pitt Places 10 on Athlon's Preseason All-ACC Team
Pitt Student-Athletes Share Experiences from Haiti Trip
Pitt Football Unveils Young Alumni Ticket Program
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Donates $20,000 to Pittsburgh Charities
Star Wars Night at Pitt Football
Pat Narduzzi and Chris Doleman compete in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge