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Aug. 14, 2012

Pitt Training Camp — Day 9 Practice Notebook & Quote Sheet

Training Camp Continues: Following Monday’s double-practice shift, the Pitt football team held a single workout on Tuesday afternoon. Coach Paul Chryst oversaw a three-hour practice held in the indoor facility due to rain showers.

Starting Strong: Pitt opened its Tuesday practice with a field goal period. Senior placekicker Kevin Harper hit all seven of his attempts, including a 47-yarder and 51-yarder. Harper’s big leg should be a major scoring weapon for Pitt this year. In 2011, he led the Panthers with 95 points and his 52-yard field goal against Cincinnati tied the Heinz Field record set by former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed.  

Learning on the Job: Although he was a highly regarded recruit of New Jersey three years ago, defensive end T.J. Clemmings was still very new to the game of football. He played only two varsity seasons at Paterson Catholic yet still earned acclaim as the Garden State’s top overall prospect.

Entering his redshirt sophomore season, Clemmings feels he is ready both mentally and physically to make his biggest contributions at Pitt. “My football knowledge is getting better and better every day,” Clemmings said. “At this point I’ve got to continue to learn all I can, work as hard as I can and apply it on the field.”

Clemmings credits defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield for his recent progress.

“Coach Breckterfield has been very good. You can tell he is a former defensive lineman,” Clemmings said. “He explains things in a way that is easy to understand. He always has us on the field early before practice to go over the things that were taught in the film room.”

Bonding in Adversity: Sporting News this week has a feature on South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore Part of the story details the bond formed between Lattimore and Pitt’s Ray Graham. The two standout tailbacks both suffered knee injuries last fall that cut short impressive seasons. 

Graham was the nation’s second-leading rusher when he suffered his ACL injury in the season’s eighth game. Lattimore was injured in the seventh game of the year.

RB Role Model: Isaac Bennett shares the same high school alma mater as Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones. Both players attended Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, Okla., before going on to college football.

Jones went to Arkansas, where he enjoyed an All-SEC career. Bennett, who rushed for nearly 1,400 yards as a high school senior, is now at Pitt writing his own college legacy. He tries to incorporate parts of Jones’ game into his own.

“I try to pattern my game after his,” Bennett said. “I love his speed, power and elusiveness. I’m working on the elusive part.”

Since spring drills, Bennett has ripped off five runs of 50 or more yards in practice.

“People are saying I got faster and I think I did,” Bennett said. “Coach (Todd) Rice’s strength program has been good for me. He has us do a lot of stretching and that’s helped me.”

Scouting the Panthers: Pitt hosted NFL scouts from the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts today.

Season Tickets on Sale: Pitt football season-ticket packages are currently on sale for as low as $99 and can be purchased online (, 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: The Panthers are back to a double-session day on Wednesday. The morning workout will be from 8:15 to 10:45 a.m. The latter practice will be from 6:45 to 9:15 p.m.

Pitt Training Camp Media Quote Sheet 

Quoting Head Coach Paul Chryst

On freshman quarterback Chad Voytik receiving more reps during today’s workout:

“We want to keep getting him work, and he’s done a good job of being able to make sense of the playbook. Trey (Anderson) is a little bit dinged up.”

On senior quarterback Tino Sunseri working on his consistency:

“I think one of the great things that you have to have at that position is that you have to play the next play. If it’s going good you’ve got to keep an even keel, and if you’re struggling you’ve got to keep an even keel and keep going.

“There are times when he’s going and we have got to be less ‘peaks and valleys’ and be a little more consistent instead.”

On Tino Sunseri having a ‘short memory’ when it comes to putting bad plays behind him:

“We’ll find out. I think there’s been times this camp where we’ve been talking about that and there’s times that he has. It’s always a little tricky, like today. There’s some inconsistency at other positions, and that can be frustrating for a quarterback. But you know what? You’ve got to deal with it.”

On senior linebackers Manny Williams and Joe Trebitz receiving more reps:

“To me, they’re what a senior should be. They know their assignments, they
know the importance of knowing what to do, and I think they know who they
are as players and try to play within themselves. They’ve been getting a
lot of work, and I think they’re getting better because of it.”

On timetable for receivers Devin Street and Mike Shanahan returning from injury:

“I don’t know, it’s truly one of those day-to-day type stuff. I wish it
was day-to-day as in tonight. Devin will probably be a couple days out,
but I don’t know. (Mike Shanahan) did some things and is making some progress.”

On the running back situation:

“Ray (Graham), certainly, we have to give him some work. I think he’s in his own situation and then I think you have guys that are getting a lot of reps, and we’ve talked about it with the backs. You can’t rep Malcolm (Crockett), and Isaac (Bennett), and Rushel (Shell) when he gets healthy – you can’t rep five backs. Rushel’s down right now and Corey (Davis) has got to battle it out, so we’ll see who earns the right for the reps. That’s the advantage, if there is one. You know, Ray getting limited reps and Rushel not getting many right now but we have to find out who that guy is. When Rushel comes back we’ll see where he’s at, and Graham. So it’s still muddy to me.”

On what running back Isaac Bennett has shown since spring workouts:

“He did some good things this spring. He ran for yards and he was the only back. (Malcolm) didn’t go during spring ball and Ray didn’t go in the spring, Rushel wasn’t here. He was our best back in the spring. He’s got to be a lot more consistent and he’s capable of it. I think that’s the area that Isaac’s got to improve on.”

On senior receiver Cameron Saddler earning further opportunities:

“He is, and I think we’re starting to get a read on him. Guys can’t do anything about their injuries, but you appreciate Cam and Ronald (Jones) fighting through some things. (Walk-on) Chris Wuestner, who’s a freshman, got a lot of reps and was making some plays. You appreciate the guys going. The guys who are injured I believe that they are working to get back at it and sometimes that work is rest. That’s the frustrating thing about being injured, but Cam is getting a lot of reps and with that we need to see improvement. And I think in some areas he has and in some he’s just making some mistakes. We just have to keep pushing through that.”


Quoting wide receivers coach Bobby Engram

On the progress of the receivers half way through camp: 

“It's early. They're working hard, but there's a lot of room for improvement. They still need to understand the details of the offense.”

We have room for improvement. We've installed a lot of plays. The top three guys need to continue to lead the way but everyone else needs to compete. We have an air of competition in the room.”

On sophomore Brendon Felder:

“He has speed and explosiveness but we have to pay attention to details.”

On leadership within the unit:

“We have a good group of guys that bond together. Mike (Shanahan) and Devin (Street) lead by example. We need to get Shanahan up to speed (due to absence due to injury). We need to continue as a crew to focus on what's important and that's win football games.”


Quoting wide receiver Cameron Saddler

On getting so many reps:

“I'm having a good time, I'm having fun, but I'll be happy when everyone gets healthy. I need (Mike) Shanahan back. I get a lot of energy from him.”

On being a fifth-year senior:

“I feel old, but I know I have to lead. I'm really trying to do things the right way.”

On the coaching staff transition:

“Not as bad as last year. I'm learning details and how to hone in on splits and routes. I watch film and see how Hubie (Graham) and Drew (Carswell) help me get open. Coach Chryst tells us just try to understand the whole concept of the play.”


Pitt Training Camp -- Day 9 Practice Notebook & Quote Sheet

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