No one likes a big hit better than Pitt coach Paul Chryst. But when the hits happen after the whistle, that’s when he loses patience with the perpetrators.
When senior wide receiver Cam Saddler and freshman cornerback Jahmahl Pardner tangled briefly Wednesday morning in the first fight of camp, Chryst sentenced both players to run laps and sit out the rest of the session.
Chryst’s logic is that if it would have happened in a game, the players could have been ejected.
“You can’t reward them with playing,” he said. “Playing is a privilege. They just have to know it’s self-control and we all know who gets caught — the second one. So, it doesn’t matter what started it, you have to have enough self-discipline to not do that to your team.”
Personal foul penalties often put a team at a big disadvantage because of the great cost involved (yardage and ejections). Chryst doesn’t need that while trying to develop a winning team that, so far in training camp, has been fighting inexperience and injuries.
“I love the physical nature of (football),” he said. “When it happens between the whistles, it’s awesome. But if you choose to do something after the whistle, there are choices, decisions and consequences.”
– Here are a couple of names to keep in mind at wide receiver: Senior Josh Brinson and freshman Chris Wuestner.
He transferred from El Camino (Calif.) Junior College last year, playing in eight games with one catch. This season, with injuries sidelining veteran receivers Mike Shanahan and Devin Street and redshirt sophomore Brandon Ifill, there is a chance to win playing time and Brinson has taken advantage of it.
Wednesday morning, he made a nice over-the-shoulder catch of a Tino Sunseri pass in the corner of the end zone. The catch was slick, but Brinson fought his way onto the field to make it. He woke up with a headache and some nausea from all the hitting he endured Tuesday.
“We thought it was, maybe, concussion symptoms,” he said. “They weren’t sure.”
As it turned out, Brinson was dehydrated and had lost 11 pounds at practice Tuesday. After resting for the first part of practice and consulting with the trainers Wednesday, Brinson ran onto the field and had a good day.
“They said if I feel any more nausea or anything like that, just come back and let them know,” he said.
Brinson said he was concerned because he had a concussion two years ago at El Camino. “That’s why I was cautious of it,” he said. “I felt the same symptoms I felt before.”
But he felt no apprehension about returning to practice.
“I need to maximize my time here.”
Wuestner is a freshman walkon, who has been catching almost everything thrown his way through the first 10 days of practice. He was unranked coming out of Carlisle High School, and had no scholarship offers.
He is a long way from contributing in games — Pitt will have some depth at wide receiver when everyone gets healthy — but at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with good hands, he surely looks the part.
– Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Jason Frimpong moved onto the No. 1 unit during morning practice after Eric Williams suffered an injury. Frimpong is listed at 5-10, 205 pounds. The lineup at linebacker has been juggled by injuries to Williams, Todd Thomas, Shane Gordon and Ejuan Price. Only Price practiced Wednesday, but he is recovering from pectoral surgery in the spring.
– While backup quarterback Trey Anderson is hampered by injury, freshman Chad Voytik is getting a significant amount of work behind Sunseri. Chryst said Voytik has done a good job absorbing the playbook. But Sunseri, Voytik and transfer Tom Savage, who is ineligible this year, were the only quarterbacks throwing passes Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any thought of returning Anthony Gonzalez to the quarterback position. Gonzalez, who played quarterback and defensive back at Bethlehem Liberty High School, was moved to safety this summer. He is a backup, but he intercepted a pass from Voytik on Tuesday by making a quick break on the football.
Next season, when senior safeties Andrew Taglianetti and Jarred Holley are gone, Gonzalez will have two years of eligibility remaining and could develop into a solid contributor.
At 6-3, 210 pounds, Gonzalez is one of the most impressive athletes on the team.