Dave Wannstedt was hoping Pitt’s second scrimmage of training camp would help answer some questions — particularly with the depth-chart — and a few things became abundantly clear Saturday on the South Side.
For one, the Panthers have improved offensively. They were efficient in moving the ball downfield and they protected it. There were no turnovers, which is precisely what Wannstedt wants, and a few big plays.
Pitt knows it has to find a way to get Jonathan Baldwin on the field. He amazes onlookers – and there were plenty on the sidelines, as the Panthers were hosting an alumni barbecue – every time the ball is thrown his way. Baldwin finished with three catches for 61 yards, including a 47-yarder where he made a leaping grab to rob cornerback Antwuan Reed of a pick.
“The guy makes plays every time you throw him the ball,” Wannstedt said. “He caught my attention today.”
Another is that the Panthers have a nice problem at tailback. They have a superstar in sophomore LeSean McCoy (five carries for 27 yards), a dazzling backup in senior LaRod Stephens-Howling (three for 22), a bruising third back in redshirt freshman Sharif Harris (10 for 32, with a touchdown) and a change-of-pace fourth back in freshman Chris Burns (four for 20 with a TD and three receptions for 20 yards).
The quarterbacks also were efficient, completing 25 of 39 passes for 272 yards without throwing an interception or losing a fumble. They were wearing red jerseys and off-limits to contact, but there were sure signs of good decision-making and accuracy in their throws.
“Offensively, we moved the ball better than we have,” Wannstedt said, noting that redshirt junior Bill Stull “had a nice day” by going 7 for 9 for 86 yards with a touchdown. “We didn’t throw any interceptions. We didn’t turn the ball over. We protected the ball on offense. Any time we do that, we’re going to have a chance.”
Defensively, the Panthers yielded some long drives but tightened up in the red zone and forced three field-goal attempts. Conor Lee was 2-for-3, converting from 35 and 20 yards but missing on a 51-yard attempt. The blue jerseys
“Without watching the tape, anytime you’re in these scrimmages, you want both sides to have success and you want both sides to dominate,” Wannstedt said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword from that standpoint, but I thought both sides did good things.”
* Highlights (courtesy of John Grupp) included:
* McCoy running a sweep around the left end for 17 yards on the fifth play.
* Redshirt sophomore end Greg Romeus beating Pinkston on an outside speed rush to sack Stull for an 11-yard loss.
* Lee missing badly on a 51-yard field-goal attempt, which landed wide left and about 15 yards short of the goal posts, then letting it go and booting a 35-yarder down the middle and the 20-yard field goal.
* Dave Brytus punting with both hang time and distance from the 45-yard line, with the ball landing at the 2 and bouncing sideways along the goal-line before coming to a stop at the 1 for a net of 44 yards.
* Bytus followed that by booting a towering bomb from the 50 that landed at the 3 and barely rolled into the end zone.
* Stull escaping the pocket to find Oderick Turner in the middle for a 25-yard gain.
* Derek Kinder gaining 17 yards on an end-around run only a few plays after outrunning safety Dom DeCicco on a deep post that Stull overshot.
* Sheard beating Thomas twice in a row to sack Stull. On the second play, an annoyed Stull smacked the football in his hands.
* Dorin Dickerson turning a pass from Stull into a 20-yard touchdown by bowling over corner Jovani Chappel at the goal line.
* Baldwin making a one-handed catch on pass from Kevan Smith along the sideline. Baldwin landed out of bounds, but it was still a great play.
* Burns bouncing outside to score on a 9-yard run and later shaking strong-side linebacker Greg Williams on a swing pass.
* Quarterback Greg Cross showing a nice burst in blowing by the defense on a bootleg, using a pump-fake to freeze defenders for a 22-yard scoring run that was called back because he was tabbed down.
* Strong-side linebacker Adam Gunn, who is quietly having a fine camp, twice dropping Harris behind the line of scrimmage for losses.
* Here is a look at the statistical leaders:
Rushing: Harris 10-32, Stephens-Howling 3-22, McCoy 5-21, Burns 4-20, Kinder 1-17, Conredge Collins 3-13, Henry Hynoski 2-7, Cross 3-4, Aaron Smith 2-1, Baldwin 1-0, Tino Sunseri 2-(-12), Stull 3-(-14).
Passing: Stull 7-9-0-86, Pat Bostick 3-3-0-65, Kevan Smith 7-10-0-49, Sunseri 5-12-0-42, Cross 3-5-0-30.
Receiving: Mike Shanahan 4-38, Baldwin 3-61, Aundre Wright 3-35, Smith 3-29, Burns 3-20, Turner 2-32, Kinder 2-15, Dickerson 1-20, McCoy 1-8, Stephens-Howling 1-6, Harris 1-5, Chris Bova 1-3.
Tackles: Duncan 5, Andrew Taglianetti 4, Myles Caragein 4, Craig Bokor 4, Manny Williams 4, Adam Gunn 3, Danny Cafaro 3, Antwuan Reed 3, Greg Romeus 3, Jabaal Sheard 3, Steve Dell 2, Ricky Gary 2, Eric Thatcher 2, Dom DeCicco 2, Tristan Roberts 2, Brandon Lindsey 2, Mike Toerper 2, Jarred Holley 2, Jon Taglianetti 2, Nate Nix 2, Shayne Hale 2, Tony Tucker 2, Chas Alecxih 2, Jovani Chappel 1, Aaron Berry 1, Irv Brown 1, Buddy Jackson 1, Greg Williams 1, Ty Tkach 1, Max Gruder 1, Scott Corson 1, Derrell Jones 1, Gus Mustakas 1, Mick Williams 1.
Tackles for loss: Sheard 3-13, Gunn 2-4, Duncan 2-4, Bokor 2-12, Romeus 2-5, Berry 1-5, Reed 1-1, A. Taglianetti 1-2, J. Taglianetti 1-2, Corson 1-6, Jones 1-3, Caragein 1-9, Mick Williams 1-1.
Sacks: Bokor 2-12, Sheard 2-10, Corson 1-6, Jones 1-3, Romeus 1-4, Caragein 1-9.
* Pitt practices from 5-6:30 p.m. on Sunday.