Pitt continued with two-a-days Wednesday and I was fortunate enough to be at the evening practice. Unlike Monday, Wednesday night was in shoulder pads and shorts as opposed to a full pads practice. However, that doesn't mean the practice was supposed to be any less intense. The coaches didn't like what they were seeing intensity-wise from the players early, even stopping a drill to called the players in for some extra motivation. After that, things picked up considerably, despite the lack of lower pads.
A rundown of practice and some observations after the jump.
- Practice opened with players working on some special team drills. Fielding punts were Cam Saddler, Kevin Weatherspoon and Brandon Felder, with Demitrious Davis, Chris Davis, Ronald Jones and freshman walk-on Chris Wuestner getting the second team reps.
- Practice went "live" right after that with a redzone drill. Sunseri was effective hitting his tight ends over the middle hitting Drew Carswell twice - once for a touchdown - and would have had another if it wasn't for a drop by the usually sure-handed Hubie Graham.
- Drew Carswell is an interesting player to me. Listed at just 220, he's a rather lanky tight end. But while I don't think he'll be throwing too many blocks anytime soon, he has the height and athleticism to create match-up problems for opposing defenses a la Dorin Dickerson. Carswell and Sunseri seem to be developing a rhythm and I would expect Carswell to expect a lot of balls thrown his way this season.
Chad Voytik ran the second team Wednesday (Trey Anderson did not practice), and he can most certainly play. Running the second team offense, Voytik showed off some elusiveness running for his life when the line broke down, but was able to pick up positive yardage. An early score came when seemingly the entire defense bit on play-action, leading to a nice pass to John Brinson on the opposite sideline for a touchdown.
- But I would be remiss mentioning Voytik without praising Sunseri, who looked significantly better than he did Monday night. As I wrote earlier, he and his tight ends seem to really be in sync., especially Carswell. Sunseri did a nice job finding his check-downs and hitting the tight ends when his receivers were covered. And his receivers were normally covered due to Pitt's insanely skilled secondary and because the second teams guys were playing on the first team due to injuries.
- Hubie Graham plays the traditional tight end role and can play it well. But one player I neglected to mention in Monday's report that deserves special mention is freshman JP Holtz. Holtz is already built like a redshirt sophomore despite being on campus for just a few months. He's getting second team reps right now, but with Chryst likely to implement multiple tight end packages like he had a Wisconsin, I'd expect Holtz to see his fair share of playing time this season. Holtz was great Monday and had a nice leaping touchdown catch Wednesday night.
- Going back to the receivers, a few guys have been standing out. Senior Josh Brinson is a big, strong guy who certainly looks the part and has had a nice two practices. Nothing ground-breaking, but solid performances all around. Ditto for Ronald Jones, one of Todd Graham's "spread receivers" who has demonstrated that he can clearly play in a pro set as well.
- But the receivers were limited once again because of Pitt's talented and deep secondary. K'Wuan Williams did not play, so there were ample opportunities for Lafayette Pitts, Lloyd Carrington, Jahmahl Pardner and Cullen Christian. Pardner in particular stood out to me and was able to break up a sure catch and touchdown by Drew Carswell in the endzone. At safety, Andrew Taglianetti and Ray Vinopal got the start tonight. And even with All-Big East player Jared Holley with the second team, the safeties were able to make plays. Tags picked off Sunseri twice - the only two interceptions of the night - including one that ended the evening's practice
- The starting offensive line was the same group that has been starting. Ditto for the defensive line which has been featuring Shayne Hale and TJ Clemmings at defensive end and Jack Lippert and Aaron Donald at tackle. For all of the talk about the shallowness of the defensive line, there are still at least seven players who could be playing those four first team spots. Tyrone Ezell played second team defensive tackle once again, and once again proved he is a force to be reckoned with at either tackle or end. KK Mosely-Smith will almost assuredly be in the rotation at tackle. Bryan Murphy seems to be locked-in at either being the first or second end off the bench (depending on what they do with Ezell) and freshman Darryl Render looks like may not really need a redshirt year to contribute as a freshman.