Scrimmage Report: Offense Steps It Up

Cameron Saddler, Brandon Ifill, Ed Tinker and Isaac Bennett account for touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage.

Pitt's offense scored five touchdowns, including a 50-yard run from Isaac Bennett, in one of its best performances of spring camp on Saturday.

Bennett finished with at least 100 yards on the ground and added another touchdown on a short, five-yard dash into the end zone. The sophomore running back has had an impressive camp so far, something he attributes to his offensive teammates.

"I was really proud of the line and the wide receivers and the fullbacks," Bennett said. "They were out there blocking. I was running behind them. They made it easier for me."

Bennett will have more competition arriving once Ray Graham returns from a knee injury and incoming freshman Rushel Shell comes to Pitt this summer, but Bennett said he doesn't think of it as a competition for playing time.

"I'm not really worried about it," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing beside everybody. We got a nice, strong, little group."

Quarterback Tino Sunseri said Bennett is taking advantage of his opportunities.

"Isaac is just one of those guys that coming to work each day and trying to make sure he's doing his job," Sunseri said. "The offensive line is doing a good job opening up big holes for him, so those big boys up front need a lot of credit."

The offensive line played well in the second scrimmage of spring practice, not only creating holes for Bennett but also allowing Sunseri time to throw. However, penalties — particularly false start penalties — plagued the line and often stalled the offense.

The ground game routinely moved the Pitt offense down the field and, as the scrimmage went on, Sunseri and the wide receiving core started performing better as well.

Sunseri overthrew several open receivers throughout the course of the scrimmage, but started hitting his mark later in practice. Afterward, he said he needs to work on getting more air under his throws.

"I [need to] stop being so flat on the deep ball," Sunseri said. "Obviously I'm overthrowing them a little bit, but I'm not giving them time to adjust."

Receiver Cam Saddler said that the timing issues and difficulty completing passes during the scrimmage baffled the wide receivers.

"Maybe we just need to put in some extra work," he said. "Today kind of boggled all of us … it's only practice 10 in a new offense so with time it'll get better."

Sunseri eventually hit Saddler for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone toward the end of practice. Sunseri also found wide receiver Brandon Ifill along the right sideline for a long touchdown earlier in the scraimmge.

Backup quarterback Trey Anderson and Ed Tinker connected for the offense's other touchdown.

"You can tell that the entire unit is getting the job done," Sunseri said of the offense. "They're not trying to do more and they're not trying to do less."

Sunseri continues to struggle with holding on to the ball too long, which is leading to sacks for the defense. Chryst said that just like any problem, improvement will come with practice.

"There are times when its unnatural but there may not be a throw," Chryst said. "You've got to get it out and put it somewhere safe."

The defensive line, led by the explosive Aaron Donald, continues to impress. Near the end of the scrimmage, Donald broke up a pass and then followed with a sack.

Eric Williams, T.J. Clemmings and Shayne Hale also finished the day with sacks. The defense continued to show their ability to get their hands on the ball as Bryan Murphy and Lafayette Pitts each broke up a pass. Pitts also intercepted a pass from Anderson early in the scrimmage.

"We put them in some situations," Chryst said. "Put them in the red zone to start and I thought they did a good job even on some drives that got there. Shut them down.That's the one thing about defensive football. You can do a lot of things right but one play can get you."

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