With Pitt’s second scrimmage of spring drills on Saturday morning, the Panthers held a helmets-only practice Friday afternoon at the indoor facility on the South Side.
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt had plans to attend an event and did not formally address the media. The only real news of the day was that defensive end Greg Romeus has started participating in non-contact drills, while fullback Henry Hynoski missed the practice with turf toe (he is expected to return to practice, perhaps as early as Saturday).
The workout was uneventful, except for a pair of interceptions. Safety Ronald Hobby read Tino Sunseri on a rollout and stepped in front of a pass intended for Aaron Smith. Strong-side linebacker Greg Williams picked off a Bill Stull pass thrown to Dorin Dickerson in the right flat.
Pat Bostick did not throw any picks, but had a third-and-2 pass tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Tony Tucker in one drill. Stull had a third-and-6 pass deflected by tackle Tommie Duhart, but connected with Dickerson in double coverage on the next play for a 13-yard gain.
Sunseri threw a nice pass to Mike Shanahan for a 21-yard gain during the same drill where the Panthers started from the opposing 45 with less than a minute to play and tried to set up a field goal. Stull took the first-team offense to the 28 in four plays before spiking the ball with nine seconds left, while Sunseri led the second-teamers to the 23 in two plays with 14 seconds left.
Don’t read too much into that. Sunseri was sacked on first down by defensive tackle Myles Caragein, who chased the redshirt freshman quarterback out of the pocket and tagged him near the sideline.
• Caragein is the subject of Saturday’s feature in the Pittsburgh Trib, and what’s interesting is that he has added 25 pounds of mostly muscle since arriving as a 260-pound freshman.
That ended his days of playing defensive end, which is where Pitt originally recruited him to play even though it projected him as a future interior defensive lineman. What surprised Caragein is that he was a tight end and defensive end/linebacker at Keystone Oaks.
“I was kind of confused at first because I was so used to playing d-end and linebacker that I figured it would be really hard adjustment – which it was, so it was nice to redshirt that first year,” Caragein said. “I’ve come a long way. I’m just trying to improve, working on hand movement, footstep and hand strike. I got to learn a lot last year. It was nice watching Mick (Williams) and Gus (Mustakas). I was trying to learn what they on the field and use it to my advantage.”
• Speaking of Mustakas, he’s sitting out this spring while recovering from off-season knee surgery. He finished with 14 tackles – two for losses – with one sacks and a fumble recovery in 13 games last season. Not bad for a guy coming off a torn left ACL, which required weekly drainings.
“Everything is pointing that Gus’ surgery went well and I’m really excited about it because he’s a heck of a football player,” defensive line coach Greg Gattuso said. “Quietly, he had a great year last year. He played very well. If he has to play 30, 40 snaps a game, he’s going to be great. If he has to play 60 or 70, it will be tough on him. With our tackle depth, we’ve got guys that have shown that they can play. I don’t know what to do with them all. Competition is bringing the best out of all of them.”
• Redshirt sophomore Brandon Lindsey spent part of Thursday’s practice at defensive end before moving back to middle linebacker for team drills. It appears that Lindsey will be making the position switch, which adds to the depth on the defensive line but reduces it at middle linebacker.
Pitt has been practicing with four defensive ends – Jabaal Sheard, Justin Hargrove, Tony Tucker and Shayne Hale – while rotating Chas Alexcih and Ty Tkach between end and tackle. If nothing else, Lindsey rounds out the numbers and allows the players to take even repetitions.
However, finding middle linebackers is considered a more pressing need, so the move indicates that Lindsey is out of the running there. And he is unlikely to crack the two-deep at end once Romeus returns.
Which means the writing is on the wall for the former Aliquippa star, who was one of the heralded recruits in the Class of 2007. Don’t be surprised that linebacker didn’t come naturally to Lindsey, who played running back and nose tackle for the Quips. His best bet might be moving to fullback, especially with no clear-cut backup for Hynoski.
• The Panthers scrimmage at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.