Pitt held their 11th practice in spring camp on Tuesday and the offense is finally beginning to resemble something usable in a few months.
On sophomore quarterback Trey Anderson getting more reps:
"I think he has impressed. I think he’s flashed on some things you have seen. I think you just have to get him more reps and give him a chance to see things more and see who he really is.
"At the end of spring, you have to make sure you can look at everyone. I think it was as much that as anything and at the same time I think there are opportunities. When you get that opportunity, it’s all about what you do with it.
"Trey (Anderson) did a couple of things to merit more reps."
The funny thing in all of this is that Anderson just a few days ago, according to Zeise's account, had been seeing less reps. Ah, the doings of spring ball.
Does this mean that Myers, yet again, doesn't have the right motivation to win the job? Is he in Chryst's doghouse? We don't know and that's evidenced by the seemingly constant shift in the rotation of quarterbacks. Chryst said to reporters after practice on Tuesday that they wanted to see what Anderson's skill set was and Myers is not in any kind of trouble. But how many times do coaches not completely tell the truth to reporters (hello, Jim Tressel)?
It's encouraging to see Anderson, who was brought in to run Graham's offense, is having success in this pro-style offense. At the same time, we all keep waiting for Myers to make a move and who knows if he ever will at this point.It's also clear that Tino Sunseri is unquestionably the starter at this point. He's taken nearly all the first-team reps at this point in camp and has separated himself from Myers and Anderson. Here's what OC Joe Rudolph had to say about him.
On senior quarterback Tino Sunseri’s progress:
"Things are starting to come back up, getting a little bit of repetition with things and that’s what you want to see as things become familiar and we’re playing a little faster. Keep working at it, keep learning it. Things are coming out easier, speaking it in the huddle. So I think all those things lead to more confidence that allows you to play a little bit faster."
On what Tino Sunseri needs to do to get better:
"He’s got to grind on all the film he can watch, grind on just learning it, keep being able to spit it out, keep having unbelievable confidence in it. I think that leads to better and better control of the huddle, more confidence in what the guys are doing. But I think it’s just learning. I think it’s just putting it in the forefront of what you’re doing and keep working at it. I think that’s why you’ve seen him a little bit better the last couple days. I think it’s been there. You can tell the off the field work has helped him in practices."
The offense also had a really good red-zone performance in practice. The quarterbacks looked efficient, made good decisions, threw multiple touchdowns, and had no turnovers. Yes, it's spring, but for a team that only had eight red-zone passing touchdowns (and 21 red-zone rushing TDs) a year ago, it at least provides some hope that this team won't become one-dimensional once they get deep inside their opponents' territory.
Of course, it wasn't all Sunseri's fault that Pitt had troubles in the passing game as the receiving corps was also not the greatest. But Devin Street and Cam Saddler have been improving in the past few practices and it showed on Tuesday. It's all due to the great teaching of WR coach Bobby Engram, according to Street.
"It’s great to have a coach that we get along with so well and who teaches us so much. We’ve had teachers, but he just knows how to go about it the right way."
He also compared this season's coaching with last season's.
"...Mentally, physically, there are some things we are asked to do. In the spread, it was just go. Now, we are thinking a lot more. We are understanding why concepts are that way, why routes are that way, so there is a little difference. Football is football."
This may explain why the passing game struggled so much last season. The routes the receivers run now have been much more defined and explained, which allows for more success in the passing game. Maybe the same thing was done last season - I don't know. But all I know from the videos Pitt posted from practices is that there was a lot of screaming to go faster.
Even though Ray Graham is missing camp to recover from his ACL injury and Rushel Shell hasn't arrived to campus yet, Isaac Bennett is asserting himself as the best player on offense through camp. Bennett isn't worried about when Shell and Graham both hit the field for fall camp.
"I'm looking forward to playing beside everybody," he said. "It's not competition, but I say teamwork. Everybody will fit in somewhere.
The depth will only make Pitt that make stronger at the position come fall.
Finally, the offensive line is beginning to improve as a unit. Remember earlier in camp this was the same unit that OL coach Jim Hueber called out for not having to motivation or desire to play? Now...
"I don’t think you can watch us practice right now and not think that somebody hasn’t bought in to what we’re doing," Hueber said. "I think right now guys are straining to do what we want them to do. It’s never going to be perfect, ever, but we’re really striving to get better every day and I think if you watch you’ll see a little bit of that."
The line, which has been the same since camp began on March 15th, is Juantez Hollins, Cory King, Ryan Turnley, Ryan Schlieper, and Matt Rotheram. Don't forget about Tom Ricketts, the PSU transfer, who is eligible this season, and Chris Jacobson, who is missing spring camp to recover from knee surgery.
All in all, it's good to see the offense improving and while it's only spring camp and we have a while before Pitt suits up against Youngstown State, progress is better than nothing.