Tuesday Morning Mania

The Pitt football team went through a two-hour morning practice Tuesday that didn't give much indication how things would go during the afternoon scrimmage, but there were some good points for both the offense and defense.

Junior quarterback Bill Stull is still playing with a glove on his right hand to protect the cut on his thumb, and he appear to be fazed by the abrupt return by freshman Pat Bostick to the University of Pittsburgh football camp. Stull was relatively sharp overall in the morning.

In the two-minute drill he moved the ball well with mid- to short-range passes, but put himself in a hole with spikes on first and third downs. However, he connected with redshirt junior wideout Marcel Pestano in the right corner of the end zone on fourth down to beat double-coverage by fifth-year senior safety Phillips and sophomore cornerback Aaron Berry.

Redshirt freshman Kevan Smith was inconsistent, however, with some good passes mixed in with a couple bad ones. He hit Pestano for a score in the team drills, but redshirt freshman cornerback Ricky Gary picked him off in the end zone on an ill-advised throw.

Smith appeared to have another touchdown pass to senior tight end Darrell Strong, who went up for the ball in the end zone, but he couldn't pull it away from sophomore Jovani Chappel despite at least an eight-inch height advantage. Afterward, Strong and sophomore safety Elijah Fields exchanged words and shoves until they were separated by teammates.

While there were still some quarterback-center exchange problems lower on the depth chart, the snaps and overall play have gotten much better for the offensive line.

"We're a long ways away, right now, but I think we're getting a better feel for it,'' Pitt OL coach Paul Dunn said. "Some guys are fighting for some things. ... And I'm quite pleased with how things have gone from that aspect.

"There are some younger guys getting opportunities, whether it's by straight depth or by injuries. And we'll find out a little bit more this afternoon on how far they've progressed, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far.''

One player who has shown improvement has been redshirt junior guard Dom Williams. Playing behind sophomore Joe Thomas, who started ahead of him last year as a freshman, Williams has worked his way up the depth chart to a key backup role and opened at right guard for Thomas Tuesday morning. Thomas is banged up a bit, but could return for the scrimmage.

"Dom has had a good of summer as he's had since he's been here,'' Dunn said. "And it's showing in his improvement. He's done a lot of nice things in camp here, and hopefully he can continue to do that and we can count on him this season to be a vital part of this offensive line. So, he's a very important player to our depth on the offensive line.''

Fifth-year senior DE Chris McKillop also was held out for the morning and replaced by redshirt freshman Greg Romeus. McKillop has a sore hamstring, but he could try to go this afternoon. Fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn is getting closer to returning to full-time duty while rehabbing his left shoulder after surgery in the spring, but he'll sit out the scrimmage.

"I can't wait for (McGlynn) to get back,'' Dunn said. "He's been in my ear like this (up close). Mike has been very enthusiastic about this whole thing, and as much as he has gone through and as frustrating as that can be for a senior to miss camp, he's taken a positive approach to it and has stayed enthusiastic and energetic. And we can't ask any more of him.''

There has been talk, mostly among Panthers fans, about McGlynn moving to center to show up that position. However, Dunn said that he has confidence in fifth-year senior Chris Vangas to man that spot.

"Chris has made tremendous improvements,'' Dunn said. "Just his athletic ability over the summer has picked up. Things that he was not doing in the spring, he's doing now. It's amazing. There are literally things that we looked at and thought that Chris would never be able to do.

"But here he is at camp and has made drastic improvements. And he would be our starter if we opened tomorrow, so I've got a lot of confidence in Chris. He's worked extremely hard, and he understands that this is it for him. It's his last hurrah, and he's done everything that we've asked him to do and beyond. So, I'm excited for him.''

While McGlynn has been out, sophomore Jason Pinkston has developed into a solid right tackle for the Panthers. McGlynn has started there for much of the past three seasons.

"Jason has come out and has had a pretty decent camp,'' Dunn said. "He's one of the vocal leaders in there, and you like being around him as a football player. ... He's had some bumps and bruises, but he's fought through it.

"A year ago, I think he would've been waiting for the ice bag on the sideline. So, I'm pleasantly pleased with what he's doing right now, and I just hope he can continue on the right path. And there's no question if we had to line up tomorrow, he'd be the starter.''

However, Tuesday afternoon's scrimmage will be a good test for every member of Pitt's offensive line.

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