Aug. 11, 2012
Pitt Training Camp — Day 6 Practice Notebook & Quote Sheet
Scrimmage Saturday: In previewing Saturday’s scrimmage, Pitt coach Paul Chryst said, “We want to play some ball. We’ve got to get a lot of snaps in.”
Mission accomplished. The Panthers scrimmaged for nearly three hours on the outdoor fields, running more than 180 plays. In addition to offense vs. defense, Pitt also worked on special teams.
“We were able to run a lot of plays, which is good,” Chryst said. “I think the film will show that we had guys doing the right things, which will give them a chance to have success. We also had guys who we need to make sure keep grinding away who haven’t gotten it yet.”
“Don’t Tell Me, Show Me”: Senior quarterback Tino Sunseri was asked to describe what it’s been like to work with Coach Paul Chryst thus far. How do you impress a guy so renowned for high-powered offenses?
“His motto is ‘put it on tape,’ and I really like that motto,” Sunseri said. “You can sit in the film room as much as you want and say that you understand most of everything that’s going on, but unless you put it on tape it really doesn’t matter. Guys have really embraced that role and they’ve been coming out here and practicing hard each and every day. We’ve been coming out here making sure that we’re understanding what’s going on.”
Lauding Lafayette: Redshirt freshman cornerback Lafayette Pitts was a scrimmage standout. He had a pair of nice third-down pass breakups, including one in the end zone, to get Pitt’s defense off the field. Pitts also may have had the collision of the day when he put a jarring hit on receiver Ronald Jones on a hitch route.
Pitts’ description of the big hit would make his secondary coach, Matt House, proud.
“I just made my reads,” Pitts said. “I just drove to the ball and the ball brought me to the man. It was pretty exciting. It was my biggest hit so far. I’ve probably had one better than that, but that was one of my biggest hits. Jones saw me coming; he knew I was there at least.”
Pitts continues to make a strong case for the open corner position, held last year by All-Big East performer Antwuan Reed, now with the Cleveland Browns.
“I feel comfortable,” Pitts said. “I got a lot of work in this spring so now everything’s kind of clicking. I’m seeing things so that I can move faster. We’ve got another week, and the competition is tight with me and (fellow corner) Cullen Christian.”
Return to Sender: Junior defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell continues to have an impactful camp. Working at defensive end for the first time in his collegiate career, Ezell is grasping his new position nicely as both a run stopper and pass rusher. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder made his presence felt early in today’s scrimmage when he batted away two passes on the first series.
Manny’s Time: Senior linebacker Manny Williams, who has been hindered by injuries in recent seasons, is making the most of his final training camp. A former all-state performer at perennial WPIAL power Clairton, Williams is positioning himself for major playing time this season.
“I think Manny has taken ownership,” Paul Chryst said. “We talk about our seniors playing the best football and I think Manny’s approach is exactly what you want. He’s into it, he’s enjoying playing when he goes out there and he’s had a couple back-to-back days where he’s had success. I think that gives you confidence and it gives guys around you confidence. He’s been fun to watch the last couple of days.”
“I’ve been waiting patiently for my opportunity and I’ve prepared,” Williams said. “Like Coach Chryst always says, you’ve just got to do what’s best for the team.”
Williams said he was the beneficiary of senior leadership when he was younger. Now that it is his turn, he wants to make sure he pays it forward.
“I always had Max Gruder or Adam Gunn or Scott McKillop, I always had a senior that kept me under their wing,” Williams said. “I always looked up to them and they would just say ‘your turn is going to come, so just keep working hard.’ Even if I wasn’t getting these reps, I still would be doing whatever I can for the team, whether it would be special teams or scout team.”
Freshman Collision: On a 4th-and-1 play, freshman Rushel Shell found the middle clogged up and got knocked backwards. He bounced the play outside and sprinted for the lead chain where he found fellow freshman Bam Bradley waiting for him. The two violently collided, resulting in a loud echoing crack. The run, which probably covered 20 total yards, was good for two net yards and a first down for the offense.
Ending on an INT: Freshman corner Jahmahl Pardner put an exclamation point on today’s scrimmage when he intercepted a deep pass over the middle. It was Pardner’s first pick of training camp. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound product of Rochester. N.Y., was an all-state performer at Aquinas Institute, excelling as a receiver, defensive back and punt returner.
Familiar Faces: The officiating crew working today’s scrimmage included a familiar face, former Pitt long snapper and Blackhawk High product Mark Estermyer, who was a four-year letterman for the Panthers from 2005-08. Other former players in attendance today included Donnie Smith and Darrell McMurray.
Coaching Fraternity: Local high school coaches at practice today included Belle Vernon Area’s Aaron Krepps and Steel Valley’s Rod Steele. Yesterday, former Pitt head coach Walt Harris (1997-2004) and former offensive line coach Tony Wise attended the Panthers’ morning workout.
Scouting the Panthers: Pitt hosted NFL scouts from the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers on Saturday. Additionally, Joe Butler of Metro Index Scouting Service was in attendance.
Season Tickets on Sale: Pitt football season-ticket packages are currently on sale for as low as $99 and can be purchased online (PittsburghPanthers.com), by phone (800/643-PITT) or in person at the Petersen Events Center ticket office. All Pitt and UPMC employees are eligible for a 20% discount. To watch Pitt’s season ticket commercial click on this link: My City, My Panthers.
Next Up: Pitt will hold its seventh training camp practice on Sunday afternoon. (The workout is closed to the media.) On Monday, the Panthers will hold their first “double-session” day, with a morning workout at 8:45 a.m., and an evening session at 6:45 p.m.
Pitt Training Camp Media Quote Sheet
On how the offense is handling the new system:
“I think they’re working at it, making progress and not going backwards. I think next week is huge because we have it installed and next week is learning what to do and how to do it, and next week you have to start putting it together.”
On if seeing the defensive line make big plays makes him question the offensive line:
“No, you realize that when both sides are executing and one of them wins, those are the ones you get excited about. Plays where they took advantage of a mistake show a positive and on the flip side of it you have to eliminate those mistakes and the loss yardage plays, particularly in the run game. Those you have to minimize. You want to eliminate them, but you have to minimize. It’s tough enough to beat an opponent; you don’t want to beat yourself.”
On if today’s success was from execution or taking advantage of mistakes:
“There were certainly more mistakes today than you’d want to have. I don’t know if it was any more or less than what you can expect at this point. I think there was some flat out guys getting off of the blocks and making plays, but there was more than a handful where people were taking advantage of a mistake. You’re in trouble if you can’t take advantage of mistakes, so we can present that to the players any way we want.”
On the play of redshirt freshman cornerback Lafayette Pitts:
“I think he’s stepped up. We were talking about him the other day, and you’re right, I think Lafayette has. Once again, I think he enjoys it and that goes a long way. He works at it, he studies, he knows his strengths and his weaknesses and he’s learning them. You can’t help but get better with that approach and that’s what you appreciate as a coach.”
On the play of freshman safety Bam Bradley:
“He made some plays and was physical. It was nice to see him in that setting and, just like everyone else, you show them and get everyone’s attention and now he’s set the bar. You have to maintain that level. There’s a lot of that and I told the players, this film and the game can expose you and it shows you who you are. Every time you go out it shows the positives and it also shows the negatives, so you have to maintain the positives and eliminate the negatives.”
Quoting offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph
“I think, one, that Hubie gives you a physical presence, and he works his tail off and trains. He’s a physical player and he can make plays in the passing game. You like him, you feel like he’s that complete tight end. And Drew’s really coming along. His blocking is better every day and he’s a threat in the passing game for sure.”
On what he’s seen from freshman J.P. Holtz so far in camp and whether he’ll be able to help out this year:
“I’ll tell you what, I love him and I think he’s going to do a great job. He works and he’s got that type of mindset and we’re going to keep pushing him. It’s a definite possibility – I mean it’s early in camp but I think it’s a definite possibility (that he will play this year).”
Quoting senior quarterback Tino Sunseri
On the team’s primary focus:
“First and foremost, we’re not even concentrating on anything other than camp first. We’ve decided that camp is our first game, we want to beat camp. We want to make sure that we’re getting better each and every day. We want to make sure that we’re working as hard as we possibly can, and the next day, and the next day, and obviously towards the end of camp we want to make sure that we’ve won that. Make sure we’re in the best shape that we can be in. People are making sure that they’re running the right routes and making sure that we’re on top of the game mentally, and then we’re going to carry it over to that first game. So we’re not concentrating on anything other than that right now.”
On the physicality displayed in today’s scrimmage:
“The big difference is that it’s power football now. You’ve got to understand that we’re running the ball downhill; last year was a lot of zone read stuff. Whenever you run the ball downhill, obviously people are going to come downhill and collide with each other. Pads are popping and they’ve been popping each and every day. The thing that I’ve been most impressed about is the competition between offense and defense. Obviously you’re teammates and you don’t want to take any cheap shots, but you want to make sure you get the most out of a practice and a scrimmage. Guys are competing their tails off.”
Quoting sophomore tight end Drew Carswell
On his feelings about today’s scrimmage:
“It feels good, actually. I’ve been waiting all summer for this. I felt good, you know, being able to play in the scrimmage with the team. We’ve got a few things to clean up, though, a few details.”
On today’s scrimmage giving the team a better idea of where they stand:
“We’ve got a long way to go. We still have camp next week and the following week, but it definitely gave us a little starting point so that we can see what we need to work out. We just need to clean stuff up.”
Quoting sophomore running back Isaac Bennett
On his understanding of Coach Chryst’s offense:
“I’m getting a better understanding of it. It’s just more time, more repetition, and it starts sticking better. I like this offense, and I feel more comfortable in it. It’s more downhill, and that’s what I like.”
On having a majority of the reps during camp:
“It just helps me pick it up faster, pick it up easier.”
Quoting senior center Ryan Turnley
On how the scrimmage went today:
“It was alright. Our first couple of drives we were moving down the field and executing. Things got a little sloppy towards the middle and it got a little more physical towards the end. We have to be more consistent.”
On if they had more success as a unit than they anticipated:
“I don’t know if we had more success because Coach Chryst gave us good field positions. We started in the red zone a couple of times and we started at the 50 a couple of times and that helps a lot. I think we were able to move the ball and get first downs consistently, but we also had a couple of three and outs.”
Quoting junior defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell
On how the scrimmage went for the defense:
“We had a lot of good plays out there, but we also had some people mess up some plays and some coverage. As a defense I thought we did pretty good, but as the coaches always say we still have a long way to go. We have to get in there and watch this film and learn and see what it teaches us for when we go out here tomorrow or next week. We’ll have to just come out and correct the mistakes that we made.”
On how balanced the scrimmage was between the offense and the defense:
“I think it was pretty back and forth. The offense had a lot of explosive plays and they had some good push up front with the offensive line. I just feel like it went both ways, but as a defensive player I feel like the defense played pretty well.”
On what the defense needs to work on:
“We have to work on running to the ball, just taking care of our opportunities. We have to stick together and keep training and fighting and keep going.”
Quoting senior linebacker Manny Williams
On the camaraderie of the linebacker group:
“Everything we do is together as a group, so once somebody does something good we’re all hopping on each other and we also talk to each other about how you should of done this better. It’s more not just myself, but a whole group thing.”
Quoting redshirt freshman running back Malcolm Crockett
On his redshirt season in 2011:
“It was a good year for me to sit. I traveled to every game, but now I’m glad to be back out here. It was a little hard because every freshman wants to play. I was anxious to play, but things happen and it worked out for the best. Now I’m out here fighting for a spot and working hard”
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