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Aug. 9, 2011

Pitt starts fast on day one of training camp

By Pat Bostick

Under the direction of an enthused and energized Todd Graham, Pitt opened training camp Monday in high gear. Clearly benefiting from an intense offseason training regimen, the Panthers looked fast and fit as they began preparations for the 2011 football season.

Graham's fast paced, multiple and aggressive philosophies are built on tempo. After years of operating a pro-style system, we saw the Panthers begin the transition to his systems this spring. Over the course of 15 spring practices, Pitt made strides toward operating at what Graham would consider to be top speed. However, Graham wasn't fully satisfied.

"We still need more speed and we can develop that in the spring and in our summer program," Graham said during the spring. "We need guys on both sides of the ball to get in better shape so they can handle the new tempo of our system."

Strength and conditioning coach Shawn Griswold was tasked with developing this level of fitness and speed in his team. After watching the opening of camp, the developments the Panthers have made are quite apparent.

The newcomers, with a few veterans sprinkled in, took the field in the morning session on Monday. Acclimating themselves to the tempo Graham demands would seemingly be more difficult for incoming freshmen and transfers, given that they are still trying to understand the playbook. But, despite being behind the eight ball, there was some serious speed on display during the early practice.

The veterans hit the turf for the evening session, hitting the ground running after a visibly productive offseason. Tino Sunseri and the offense looked crisp, getting plays called and communicated very efficiently. The defense, under the veteran leadership of Myles Caragein, looks to be as strong as ever.

The team came together for practice on Tuesday morning, their first as a full unit. There was certainly no drop-off in the tempo of practice, in fact, things looked even faster. Guys were flying around from drill to drill, never taking a second to walk or slow down. There were big plays made on both sides of the ball, but the intensity level of practice never changed. There is a definite sense of urgency about this Pitt team.

The fact that the Panthers have started training camp at such an efficient tempo speaks to the preparation they have put in this offseason. Their high overall level of fitness is reflected in their ability to operate at a fast pace for the entirety of practice. This bodes well for Pitt as they prepare to run 80 plays a game on offense and play an aggressive, relentlessly attacking style of defense. To think that things are moving this quickly without the pads on, it should be pretty exciting when Pitt finally straps it up.

Early Days Of Camp Are All About Tempo