August 17, 2005
We've been trying to pick a different phase every day to kind of make a point and today was short yardage/goal line. It's probably something that we practice during the season, but it's one of those drills that once you get going (during the year), you are reluctant to go full speed. It was a good session this morning. We got a good look at a few plays that we've been working on really hard the past couple of weeks, so we were pleased with that. We're going to go this evening at 7 o'clock under the lights for a couple reasons. Number one, to give the guys a little bit more time off their feet this afternoon to get rest. The second thing is obviously to get out here under the lights a little bit. We're going to make a little more emphasis on the special teams part of it and throw the ball a little more than normal just for the receivers and quarterbacks.
On the low number of injuries up to this point:
There's a fine line. Guys are beat up, don't get me wrong. H.B. Blades has had more collisions in the last 10 practices than anyone on this football team, so he's sore and beat up. We've got to be smart about it, but this is also the time of year when you've got to get to work.
On general team observations and competition:
I like the overall attitude of our football team. The guys are really handling things well. By that I mean the little stuff, the things that go unseen on the practice field. The meetings and things we've asked them to do off of the field, they've been very responsive to it. From the football standpoint, I've talked about the competition. We've got better competition at a lot of positions than I originally thought we'd have. We've got good competition on the defensive line, and you don't have good competition unless you've got some kind of depth. We've got very good competition obviously at the running back and wide receiver positions. We've got some depth at linebacker. Brian Bennett got dinged this morning a little bit, and J.J. (Horne) jumped in there and didn't miss a beat. That's eventually what down the road and years to come we'll hope to add to.
On playing freshmen:
I'm nervous about talking about freshmen. It's like talking about rookies in the NFL. You know you're going to need them, you know they're going to have to play for you, but you don't want to take anything away from the upperclassmen that have paid the price. At this point in camp you want to make sure you give them the first opportunity. I see Tommie Campbell, (John) Pelusi, (LaRod) Stephens, maybe a running back or two. There are probably going to be a half-dozen freshmen. Billy Stull has really made progress every day. I'm really encouraged by where he's at at this point, so we're going to have some of the young guys play for us and that's what's going to give us a little more depth.
On the backup quarterback situation:
We're going to have to make that decision pretty quick, probably by the end of the week. We're scheduled to have another scrimmage on Friday. I think that only because you can't work three. You only have so many snaps at practice, so we're going to have to focus in on the top two guys and put our emphasis there.
On QBs switching positions and the possibility of redshirts:
If Billy Stull ends up being the backup quarterback, Shane (Murray) will still stay at quarterback. On that whole redshirt thing, I'll have to wait and see. I don't think it's fair to our football team to not play a guy who can help us win, but I'm also sensitive to not wasting a kid's year. There's a fine line there.
On practicing under the lights:
Our first two games of the year are under the lights, with Notre Dame and Ohio University. We're going down to Fan Fest next week and that will be under the lights as a sort of game rehearsal. We've got one more night practice scheduled, so we'll have three times under the lights before Notre Dame.
On the corners:
(Darrelle) Revis is really playing the way I expected him to and he's coming off of a good year. But the guy that I've been very pleased with is Josh Lay. Josh is one of those guys that has had the ability, but he's on a mission right now. He's got some goals and he's working extremely hard to achieve those things and he's having a great camp. Kennard Cox is coming on, as is Reggie Carter. With the luxury we have at corner, we've been able to move Mike Phillips out to safety, and that's helped us. I feel good about our secondary and our linebackers; we've just got to unfold the defensive line thing. That's the one position that I'm really not sure.
On Greg Lee's condition:
He's getting better every day. He's doing rehab, he's running. He's probably right on the verge of getting back to some sort of practice. He's making great progress.
On Thomas Smith's condition:
They held him today, and he's going to see the doctor and be examined now after practice. We'll know more this afternoon.
On high expectations:
I want to get better every week and to get the most out of the players that we have. I don't think we get hung up on wins or losses at this point as far as numbers. In fact as of now, we don't even look as far as the opener; we look to training camp. I think if we keep some of our key guys healthy and we improve week after week, we're going to have a good football team. How good, I don't know; we'll see. I know our guys are going to lay it on the line, and I know the intangible things will be there, but I think we've just got to take them one at a time and not get ahead of ourselves and understand it's a long season.
On Mark May's prediction of a fast start for Pitt this year:
[Mark May] is an enthusiastic alum; I love it. It would be nice if he was working for Merrill Lynch and not ESPN, where his comments are heard, but it doesn't put pressure on us. We're going to do everything we can to win as many games as we can, but what that number is I have no clue. I think it would be a mistake to look any further than the first one.