Pitt held its first scrimmage of training camp on Sunday. Different from years past, this year's scrimmages are closed to the media. That didn't, however, prevent players and coaches from giving a little inside feedback on what went well and what didn't go well.
When practice began on Monday, when Malcolm Crockett was the first of the freshman running backs—slightly ahead of Corey Davis and Isaac Bennett—the get touches on Monday's first practice. Salath Williams may have been filling in for injured receivers like Cameron Saddler and Devin Street, who were out of Monday's morning practice. These players were in these positions because of the impression they made on the coaching staff in the scrimmage. These were players that Graham highlighted immediately.
"One guy that really stuck out to me today, and in the scrimmage, is Salath Williams," Graham added. "He is really stepping up and doing some good things. The young running backs are really impressive. They were very impressive in the scrimmage. (Malcolm) Crockett, (Isaac) Bennett, Corey Davis are really doing well."
According to quarterback Tino Sunseri, the offense was able to get through 78 plays in 13 series. If the whole goal of the offense is to run 82 plays a game, as Todd Graham has consistently said, then the offense is on track. That's true to an extent. Sunseri was pleased with the pace, pleased with the fact the offense didn't turn the ball over. The only thing holding the offense back from gaining a total edge on the defense in Sunday's scrimmage, was the fact the defense forced seven three-and-outs in 13 total series.
"We didn't turn the ball over, which is a positive," Sunseri added. "We have a great grasp of the offense right now, but it can definitely get better. The big thing with the defense is, they forced three-and-outs. We were able to complete the ball, but there were little miscues that we were making, and we need to understand what we are doing."
At the same time, when you gain a perspective from the defensive side, things seem even. While Myles Caragein had a right to brag about the defense holding their own on Sunday, and the fact that the head coach felt the defense won, Caragein still feels everything is a work in progress. The three-and-outs were something to be pleased with. One thing this defense has celebrated this camp, is the production of turnovers. You could sense a slight bit of disappointment in Caragein's tone, when talking about the lack of turnovers on Sunday.
"I think the defense had a good day yesterday," Caragein added. "We put the offense in bad positions. We forced a lot of three-and-outs. We're still not where we need to be. We still need to keep working hard every day, getting better.
"The offense did a great job. They were inches away from completing passes. Receivers were diving, trying to make big plays. Running backs were trying to slip through some tackles, make some big plays. It really was a balanced scrimmage. I know we had a good bit of tackles for a loss; not enough where we need to be. We just need to get more."
Pitt will get another crack at it on Saturday, when they hold another closed scrimmage. This week will be spent learning from their miscues on Sunday—both offensively and defensively—about what to improve on, before being given another shot at a scrimmage on Saturday. Graham has this team knowing that there's still 19 days away from the home opener, which leaves time for still a lot of things that need put in and addressed. It also leaves more time for improvement.
"We had a good scrimmage (Sunday)," Graham said. "The defense, naturally at this time, was a little bit further ahead. I thought they dominated the scrimmage. We got lots of positive signs of guys stepping up. Young guys are getting better, and guys are working well."