Notebook: Pitt Spring Practice 3/17

News and notes from Pitt's second spring practice Thursday.

Pitt continued its spring practice in the South Side Thursday and the Panthers were inside once again on a cloudy morning. All of last season's spring practices were inside and although the weather is rounding into spring shape, the Panthers will probably remain inside for the duration of this spring until they play at Heinz Field April 16. 

-- For the first time this spring, at least during what was available for the media's viewing, Chris Blewitt and the field goal unit lined up together. Blewitt attempted six kicks, three from 35 yards and another three from 37 yards out, with two apiece coming from the right hash, middle and left hash. He made all six. 

-- Class of 2016 signees Thomas MacVittie and Brandon Ford were at this morning's practice. MacVittie spent some time with offensive coordinator Matt Canada before practice really began, watching the quarterbacks warm up and looking over a practice script. As practice started, MacVittie and Ford watched together from the sidelines.

Ford and MacVittie were cornerstones of Pitt's recruiting class this year as the first two commits back in the spring of 2015, and submitted their letters of intent at nearly the same times on National Signing Day last month. The pair seems to have a solid relationship, which is always nice to see between teammates but especially a quarterback and the lineman who will spend the next four years protecting him. 

-- Speaking of quarterbacks, reserve offensive players were going through some work with Manny Stocker as the quarterback. The units mostly worked on option handoffs, a few rollouts for Stocker and some shovel passes to the running back flanking him. 

There's no question to who Pitt's starter will be this season, unlike last season when Nathan Peterman competed with, and eventually overtook, Chad Voytik early in the season.

But it's interesting to see Stocker working in this capacity. He was listed as a receiver on last year's roster and only saw the field on special teams but moved to quarterback this spring to provide depth after Voytik's transfer. Stocker played quarterback at Tennessee-Martin in 2014 before he transferred to Pitt and in the two seasons he spent at N.C. State, where his offensive coordinator also happened to be Matt Canada. 

Canada proved he can make an offense do some good things with dual-threat quarterbacks and while Stocker may not be the starter, that doesn't mean he can add something to Pitt's quarterback play. The familiarity between the two only helps Stocker's case to see the field, possibly in some sort of Wildcat-type package. 

-- As the media viewing session ended, the Panthers began their "Ball Security Period" with the coaches repeating "we have the ball, we win." Limiting turnovers is obviously important, but it shows a heightened commitment to see an entire period of practice dedicated to taking care of the football. 


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