Ray Graham wasn't out on the field for the Blue-Gold game (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Pitt held their annual Blue-Gold game this year. I didn't make it down, but apparently it was less of a game than in years past due to some changed rules. I've got no issue with not keeping score, etc. It was never an actual game (at least in recent memory, anyway) and the biggest thing the fans get out of it is getting some first glimpses of the team.
So who stood out? Spring phenom (will have more on him tomorrow) Isaac Bennett had a big game rushing for 124 yards. He also had a 51-yard run on the day. Simply put, Bennett has been impressive in the spring. That could mean a crowded backfield in the fall, but he's not concerned:
"It's a lot of fun, because when you get tired, someone can come in and take over where you left off," Bennett said. "It's a lot of fun knowing that everyone is going to be really good."
Next are the quarterbacks - everyone's favorite topic.Starter Tino Sunseri had an average day by all accounts. He completed less than 50% of his passes (13 of 27), but had 147 yards and a touchdown in sharing time with Mark Myers. Myers had a better day and was 10 of 16 for 167 yards. Get ready to hear the clamoring for him to play as he also threw a 58-yard strike to Brandon Ifill. Still, I wouldn't read too much into the numbers. Plus, it's likely that Sunseri played more against the first team defense.
The deep ball is something that fans will want out of Sunseri, but I don't know that that's part of his arsenal. I'm convinced he will be better in Chryst's offense, but I don't know that we'll see him throwing the ball downfield with great success. He struggled with the deep passes again during the game:
While the running game excelled, the passing game continued to struggle on Saturday. While the receivers managed to get open, the quarterbacks couldn't consistently hit their marks for most of the afternoon, and starter Tino Sunseri overthrew Drew Carswell twice on the first drive of the game before Kevin Harper missed a 39-yard field goal.
"I think that guys were running open," Sunseri said. "You just have to put the ball into people, people have to understand certain route depths and we just have to keep on competing."
Despite the struggles, Chryst thinks the passing game is getting better:
"I have trust in the passing game," Chryst said. "I think it's just getting the players to understand where they fit in the passing game and also being able to play to our guys' strengths. It takes a lot of reps. We've got some work to do on it. We're not where we want to be, but there's progress."
For the offense, scoring touchdowns was apparently a bit of an issue as they settled for field goals on several occasions. The good news? That means the defense stepped up:
"They had a couple runs and stuff," said Shane Gordon, who started at middle linebacker and finished with three tackles, "but when it came down to the redzone stuff, I felt like we bowed up. Bend but don't break so that's how it went today."
One thing I haven't heard much about this spring was the kicking game. But Kevin Harper looked good in the game, hitting four of his five field goals, including two from 47 yards. Field goals are going to be huge for this offense if they have trouble getting in the end zone, which they did today.
All in all, it's still really early. We'll know a lot more about this team in the fall when many of the team's key players, including Ray Graham, return from injury. Positions should also be settled by then and we'll have a better idea of what this team will look like.