Aug. 8, 2012
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Pitt Training Camp — Day 3 Practice Notebook & Quote Sheet
Putting on the Pads: The intensity ratcheted up at Pitt training camp today as the Panthers wore shoulder pads for the first time. Coach Paul Chryst oversaw a three-hour workout under bright sunny skies and temperatures that peaked at 86 degrees. In addition to individual and group drills, the Panthers ran more 11-on-11 work this afternoon using ‘thud’ tackling.
11-on-11 Highlights: Senior quarterback Tino Sunseri hit some nice throws, including a 45-yard connection with sophomore tight end Drew Carswell. He also hit a 40-yard pass to junior wideout Ed Tinker, who did a nice job staying in bounds along the sideline.
Defensively, senior safety Jarred Holley and freshman corner Ryan Lewis each had interceptions. Senior safety Andrew Taglianetti had a nice strip-and-scoop for a TD following a screen pass to a running back.
Several times, the players got overly aggressive, resulting in bodies on the ground and the admonishment of coaches.
“We have to learn how to practice with each other and I think we have to get better at that to be honest with you,” Chryst said. “We have to be able to practice and have great tempo, but also be smart and take care of each other.”
Medical Report: Paul Chryst announced after Wednesday’s practice that sophomore offensive tackle Tom Ricketts will undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder this week. Ricketts sustained the injury on the opening day of camp in a non-contact drill.
“Obviously, we wish him well,” Chryst said. “It was good talking to him; he has the right frame of mind to get it done (surgery) now and then hopefully have him ready for the winter conditioning because it’s a longer rehab.”
Additionally, senior running back Ray Graham, sophomore linebacker Todd Thomas and freshman receiver Demitrious Davis all had prescheduled days off from on-the-field work and instead did rehabilitation exercises in the weight room.
“We wanted Ray, Todd and Demitrious Davis to get two good workouts in and then today they got a good workout in off of the field,” Chryst said. ”We want to be smart with this thing. This is a process that is long. Ray and Todd have been doing stuff in the summer where there aren’t bodies flying around and we’re going to be smart with how we approach this thing.”
Silver Spoon: One of the most impressive players during the opening week of camp has been redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kevin Weatherspoon. The former Clairton standout, known as “Spoon” to his teammates, has gained notice with his precise route running and sticky hands.
“My first two years I was uncertain, maybe a little nervous when I was on the field,” Weatherspoon said. “But it’s my third year now and I’ve got to step up. I worked on everything during the offseason. Coach (Bobby) Engram has been a huge help to my game.”
Rotheram Ready: Matt Rotheram was having an impactful redshirt freshman campaign on the offensive line in 2011 before an ankle fracture ended his year. Rotheram was making contributions at both guard and tackle before sustaining his injury in the season’s eighth game, a nationally televised victory over Connecticut.
With a grueling rehabilitation process behind him, Rotheram is ready to step up and earn the starting assignment at right tackle.
“I feel like my strength is at 100 percent,” Rotheram said this week. “Working through rehab was a long process but now I can’t tell the difference between my two ankles.”
The 6-foot-6, 335-pounder played in every game until getting injured. He believes his diverse experience on the offensive front will be an asset.
“Having played both tackle and guard helps me better understand the whole offensive scheme,” he said. “If you know what the guy next to you is supposed to do, it helps you do your job.”
His goal for 2012 training camp? Become a better fundamental offensive lineman.
“Fundamentals make a football player better,” he said. “We’re focusing on hand placement, taking a quick first step. Those are the basics that make you a better lineman.”
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Next Up: Pitt will hold its fourth training camp practice on Thursday at 9:45 a.m., at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex. The Panthers will wear helmets and shoulder pads.
Pitt Training Camp Media Quote Sheet
On the move of Tyrone Ezell from DT to DE:
“I’m not going to over-comment on the first day in pads, but obviously we think he has the ability to help us there. That’s what this camp will be about and I’m excited for him with this opportunity and I’m anxious to see how he grasps it.”
On how the young linebackers have been performing:
“I’d say there’s a pool of guys that have a chance to be pretty good players and I thought Eric Williams, particularly yesterday, did some good things and I’m anxious to watch the film and see if he can carry it over. That’s the biggest thing, if you’re good once and you put that on film, can you become that every day. I think the group is working and we do have some guys that if they keep growing, it might be fun to watch.”
On offensive lineman Chris Jacobson’s recovery from last season’s knee injury:
“We’re getting some good work out of him and we’re thankful for that. It does give some other guys some opportunities, so you’ll see that during camp. We’re going to try to be smart with those guys coming off of injuries and Jacobson fits into that. He wanted to go today and he was anxious to get the pads on. For a lineman, those first two days are so different than others. He wanted to get the pads on and knock some rust off, which is why he was on a little bit different pattern than those other (previously injured) guys.”
On seeing what the backup offensive linemen can do:
“I think at this point you’re anxious to see what everyone can do. We want to get them going in the right direction and that’ll come. Every snap is fun to watch and you go back and watch it on tape again and if we can maximize this time, working in a lot of reps, which leads to the fun part of coaching.”
On how Eric Williams will match up physically against bigger offensive linemen:
“Because of his body type, no he won’t struggle. We’ve all seen enough football to know that body types respond differently and time will tell. I don’t think he’ll be limited and he wouldn’t want that and I wouldn’t believe that that is an excuse.”
Quoting sophomore linebacker Eric Williams
On the role of the linebackers in the new defense:
“The position is very similar (to what Williams played last year). It’s a lot of hybrid-type stuff, where the linebacker is out covering the receivers. We have to learn all aspects of the linebacker/down-safety position. We’re classified as a Sam linebacker, but the responsibilities in what we have to do is sort of like a hybrid type.”
On his standout play thus far:
“We all have to come and start learning how to play with each other. I can’t just take credit for myself; I have to give credit to my whole defense because without them I wouldn’t be able to make the plays that I make.”
Quoting junior defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell
On moving from defensive tackle to defensive end:
“I like it. It’s a new position, a way to learn something new, and I’ve pretty much played every position on the line so far now so it’s always good to know every position. I feel like it was a good move, just have to get used to it and everything. They want me to be this run-stop, power-rush type at the edge and I feel like I’m good at doing that. It’s about the same thing as tackle except with a little more spacing and dropping, and at 300 pounds that’s hard to do sometimes, but I’m getting it.”
On the defensive philosophy of the new coaching staff:
“Their philosophy is more like a run-stop defense. They teach us run, and then transition to pass. ‘Play run first’—that’s all they ever tell us in the meetings and everything. We’re big guys and we’ve got a lot of beef on the inside. I’m excited to be on the first team defense. I’ve been here working for four years just to get to that spot, and I’m here now and I just want to keep working harder and staying in my playbook just so that I can keep that spot and go forward to do well.”
Quoting freshman offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty
On his role on the offensive line:
“It was surprising coming in here and being put on the second team that quick, and right now it’s just learning all of the plays and getting everything down. I feel pretty good about what I’ve learned so far, but there’s a lot of work to do, there’s a lot of camp to go, and a lot of learning to do.”
On transitioning to the collegiate level:
“Speed is the toughest thing. They always say that speed gets quicker, and I expected it, but it’s pretty quick here. That’s really the biggest thing right now.”
Quoting sophomore safety Ray Vinopal
On having to adjust to scheme changes:
“It’s been a bit of a shuffle, but there’s a lot to learn and you’ve just got to embrace it. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. It’s all about picking up the new stuff as fast as you can and executing it, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
On his expectations for himself this season:
“Just compete and play. I want to be out there somewhere, somehow, to help the team. I just want to be out there making a difference. Wherever they put me I’ll want to go, so that’s what I want to do.”
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