Friday Afternoon Delight

As inconsistent as the previous two afternoon practices were for the Pitt football team, that's how crisp Friday's was with redshirt freshman Kevan Smith turning in his sharpest performance in this training camp.

Pitt football--Friday Afternoon Delight Kevan Smith has usually thrown a good long ball, but is not as consistent with his short throws when he has to take something off or the sail on the receiver. During this practice, however, Smith was on target more often than not.

"Kevan was better today,'' University of Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I've said this all along. I believe we've got a good supporting cast, and two weeks from now I would expect to be very comfortable with Billy Stull or very comfortable with Kevan Smith.

"I expect these guys to progress to the point ... I don't expect them to be where Tyler Palko was last year, but I do expect and I believe that, Billy, for sure, will be there. And he'll be able to run the offense and go out and win games for us. I don't have any doubt about that, but we need to get better and better every day. So, we've got a lot of work to do.''

It didn't hurt Smith that he had speedy, sure-handed wideouts like freshmen Aundre Wright and Maurice Williams running patters. Senior tight end Darrell Strong also had a couple nice grabs, including a touchdown in a red-zone series, while frosh running back Shariff Harris looked strong once again as well. He got more reps because fellow freshman LeSean McCoy sat with a sprained ankle. Harris ripped off left tackle on one play and sprinted for 20 yards. Sophomore Elijah Fields tracked him down, but it would have been interesting to see the two match up in full pads and running full speed.

"I really thought that Shariff Harris did some good things today ... and I really think he did a heckuva job,'' Wannstedt said. "So, that was a bright spot, and this was the last day practicing in two separate groups. ... He's got more explosion, and he is strong. He's a big back that can run, but like most of these freshmen he just needs to learn what to do.''

Austin Ransom even made some big catches Friday, including a 20-yard hookup with Smith in 11-on-11. Smith connected with Williams for a long score on a catch and run, as Wright blocked Buddy Jackson. Jackson and Wright got entangled, and the cornerback ended up on the ground. Williams only mistake was letting a Smith fastball from the 10 go through his hands and bounce off his pads in the end zone. Frosh Greg Williams finally got some action as well and made it pay off with a 10-yard scoring run.

Since Pitt's quarterback depth has thinned, the Panthers explored using wideout Maurice Williams in that capacity. He primarily just took snaps and ran the ball, but he has some experience in that area.

"Mo Williams was a quarterback in high school at Strong Vincent in Erie, and we recruited him as an athlete,'' Wannstedt said. "We thought he could play wide receiver, cornerback and possibly at quarterback. So, we got him a little bit of work today, and he did some good things.''

The Panthers merge the younger players with the veterans and practice with full gear Saturday from 2:15 to 4:45 p.m. Wannstedt also said that junior quarterback Bill Stull, who banged his thumb during the morning practice, was OK and should be able to practice with a glove protecting the thumb. The head coach also believed that McCoy should be ready to play as well.

"Billy did bang his thumb up, but nothing's broken,'' Wannstedt said. "And we'll see how he is (Saturday). ... Billy's a tough guy, and if he can go out with a glove on it he'll do it and play.''

Dan Gustine, from Bishop Canevin in the Pittsburgh area, visited practice Thursday and ended up working in quarterback drills Friday to help shore up depth at that position. It's been reported that highly-touted freshman quarterback Pat Bostick would return as early as Sunday, but Wannstedt wouldn't confirm that. So, more arms for camp are being explored.

In the daily one-on-one competition between linemen: Redshirt sophomore DT Mick Williams was dominant. After getting held up by guard Dom Williams early on, Mick blasted up the middle for a sack, executed a stunt with Jabaal Sheard. The freshman DE easily beat Jason Kacinko coming off the left end. OG Craig Bokor made a good move on center John Bachman for a sack, but Bachman beat him when Bokor just tried to use a strength move. He was better off utilizing his quickness. Myles Caragein also had a couple nice moves against Chase Clowser, but in the team drill Clowser had a perfect counter for his move. Justin Hargrove also showed some quickness inside and outside, but center Scott Corson was able to keep him out on a stunt.

In one final note, Aliquippa senior wideout Jonathan Baldwin watched practice.

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