Pitt football camp--Tuesday scrimmage

The University of Pittsburgh held their eighth official spring practice on Tuesday. During that time the Panthers conducted a hard hitting scrimmage. PantherDigest.com senior writer Dale Grdnic was in attendance. Dale has a number of news and notes concerning the Pitt football team. Read on for details.

PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh football team went through about a 60-play intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday afternoon, and the defense maintained the edge it has held throughout training camp practices at the UPMC Sports Complex.

"We have good leadership over there with (Clint) Session and (H.B.) Blades,'' second-year Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said, referring to his top two linebackers. "Then, you have (cornerback) Darrelle Revis, and the competitiveness with that defensive line has caused there to be a lot of energy over there. And that's what generally happens.''

* Pitt's young linemen have been especially exciting to watch for Wannstedt and his staff, and they didn't disappoint Tuesday. Sophomore Gus Mustakas and redshirt sophomore Corey Davis opened at the tackle spots, while freshman John Malecki and sophomore Rashaad Duncan were the backups. The top ends are Charles Sallet, Joe Clermond and Chris McKillop.

"Mustakas showed up, but I thought Malecki and Duncan both made plays,'' Wannstedt said. "Sallet had a good day, so the ends might not be as unsettled as at tackle. But the young guys have shown up. I really thought our defense played with a lot of emotion, the first group, the entire time.

"And we got an opportunity to look at a lot of young players. Right now, I can't wait to look at the film. We pretty much have stayed with our first, second and third group. But after (the scrimmage), in all fairness, we'll watch the film. And if there are some position moves (to make), we'll do it.''

* As many as 10 newcomers could push veterans down the depth chart for Pitt this season, including junior left tackle Jeff Otah, freshmen defensive tackles Malecki, Jason Pinkston and McKenzie Mathews, wideout T.J. Porter and offensive guard Joe Thomas.

"We've got to look at those defensive linemen,'' Wannstedt said, referring to areas of the depth chart in question. "We've got to look at the running backs. And then the rest of them are probably backup spots. We've got to look at the weak-side linebacker (position).

"(Sophomore) Tommy Campbell has shown up a bunch, and Derron Thomas has done a nice job. (At wideout), (Oderick) Turner was alternating with Marcel (Pestano) with the ones and twos, and (Derek) Kinder took the rest. T.J. Porter made a couple plays. So, we're probably going to be a little better there with some young kids than what anybody thought.''

* Freshman quarterback Kevan Smith probably has been the surprise of camp. He has backed up Palko throughout due to a finger injury to sophomore Bill Stull. The problem forces Stull to only take snaps in the shotgun formation, while Smith has run all the team drills.

"A guy we have to give credit to ... a guy that has come out here and has had to learn the most and been thrown into the fire as quick as any of (the freshmen), more than any of them, is Kevan Smith,'' Wannstedt said. "The thing about that is that he's been the second-team quarterback from Day 1. ... So, he has been a real pleasant surprise.''

* Smith completed 11 of 17 passes for 131 yards with touchdown passes to Austin Ransom for 11 yards and T.J. Porter for three yards. Palko was 12-for-17 for 90 yards, but no touchdowns and no interceptions.

* Ransom, a redshirt sophomore, had three catches for 43 yards with a 28-yard long catch. Pestano, Porter and tight end Steve Buches also had three catches each. The running game didn't get much work and only gained 40 yards, but Palko was sacked for minus-14.

* Place-kicker Conor Lee made a 27-yard field goal, but missed from 46 and 37 yards. Freshman Dan Hutchins made his 32-yard attempt.

"The purpose of kicking in the middle of a scrimmage is to put our kickers under pressure to get ready for the Virginia game,'' Wannstedt said. "And we were OK, but not good enough to win with.''

* Wannstedt noted that senior place-kicker David Abdul, out with a heart condition, should find out today if he is medically cleared to play this season. However, since he wasn't on the original 105-player camp roster, he can't practice until school starts.

* The walking wounded were Pinkston (concussion), wideouts Dorin Dickerson (ankle sprain) and Joe DelSardo (hamstring) and defensive tackle Mick Williams (concussion). Wannstedt said they all should be back in the next few days. Dickerson, a blue-chip recruit, hasn't done much this camp.

"He's behind now,'' Wannstedt said. "He got banged up at the Big 33 game, if you remember, so he limped around 2-3 weeks after that. Then, he got hurt out here the (second) day, so he's playing catch-up right now.''

* Pitt's next scrimmage is Saturday from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.


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