Spring Ahead

With the start of spring practices just a couple weeks away, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst gives us a quick glimpse of the team's spring plans.

Paul Chryst sat down with a few reporters on Thursday, giving a quick glimpse of the upcoming spring football.

Of the biggest note, there will be no spring game this year. Spring practices will commence on Sunday March 16. It will be the first of 15 practices, which will conclude four weeks later on Sunday April 13.

As to the reasoning in not holding a spring game, Chryst says it's just a matter of taking that last practice, and treating as just that--one last practice.

"We're not in a hurry to get through spring ball, and we want to maximize everything," Chryst said. "We've had some staff changes, so we wanted to have more time with (the new coaches) That's why we're starting later than we did last year."

He empathized with fans who might be upset about there being no game this year. He did add this decision was more about football. Admitting it might sound selfish on the part of the football program not to have a spring game, Chryst said he simply wants the last practice (which is techinically the spring game) to be just a practice, focusing strictly on football.

"You love all that, you do," Chryst said of the spring game as an event. "It's a little bit selfish. But for the team, for the practice, the interior part of the program, those days are so valuable. You appreciate (the fans). That's a real thing and a good thing. That's certainly not the intent. There is a real connection with this group of guys. You feel that's the right thing, and you hope that people appreciate that."

* As for the rest of the layout of spring, Chryst said that the team--per NCAA rules--has a mandatory three practices where it is required to be in helmets only. He expects for the first practice of spring to be one of those days. He also said he may use the other two on the last week of practices, which is the week before final exams for the players. While the NCAA mandates the three helmet-only days, those three dates don't have to be the first three practices.

* From an injury standpoint, Chryst said there are four players that will either be held this spring, or will be limited with a possible return towards the end of spring. Junior defensive end Devin Cook is likely out for the entire spring, as he continues rehab for a knee injury. Redshirt freshman linebacker Zach Poker is out with an upper body injury, and is in a wait-and-see mode. The same can be said for Gabe Roberts, who looks to return from a shoulder injury. Senior receiver Kevin Weatherspoon is likely out for the duration of the spring, looking to come back from a foot injury.

Other players such as Ejuan Price and Adam Bisnowaty who battled injuries late in the season, and Scott Orndoff as well, are back at full strength and will be ready for the start of spring practices.

"I gotta make sure we're smart on that," Chryst cautioned. "[Bisnowaty] is still three months removed (from being injured)."

* Chryst mentioned only one position change. Redshirt freshman Reggie Green came to Pitt as a receiver. He's moved to outside linebacker, where he should at least have an earlier shot at playing time.

"When we were recruiting him, we liked the way he played hoops; a good athlete," Chryst said. "The more you're around him, he's one of our best workers. I think he's got a chance to get a lot more work. He's got a great frame."

On one more personnel item, Chryst said that redshirt juniors Khaynin Mosley-Smith and Ronald Jones--both suspended for the duration of the 2013 season--we're two integral members of the team last year in practice, and he's encouraged about what they should be able to bring to the team in 2014.

"They did everything except playing the games," Chryst said. "Both, I think, have had a good spring, a good winter; how they embraced their situation. I'm not so sure (Ronald) wasn't the best scout team guy we had. I think both will end up being really big positives to the group."

* It might not pertain to his team, but Chryst was asked his thoughts on the proposed rule change that would require offenses to wait ten seconds until snapping the ball.

Proponents of the rule change--which suddenly sound like they're in the minority--suggest it's rule that will help ensure player safety.

When asked, Chryst summed it up by saying he's in the majority--against the rule change. However, this rule shouldn't be the determining factor of trying to do something in support of player safety.

"I'm in the majority," Chryst said. "I think we're asking more and more of officials. I've talked with supervisor officials, I think less is more with a lot of those things. Officiate it the right way, the big stuff, specific to that. Everyone believes in player safety. But don't use player safety, to try to do some other things."

* Pitt will hold its annual Pro Day on Monday, March 3. Ten Pitt players, including Aaron Donald, Tom Savage and Devin Street who were at last week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis--are scheduled to work out.

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