Situational Work

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt opened training camp by saying that the Panthers would practice more situational drills than the past two years to prepare for anything that might arise during the upcoming football season.

Wannstedt didn't pay lip service to that, as Friday afternoon's workout included a series from the red zone, two-minute drills and opportunities at the end of a game like having to make a first down and hold onto the ball.

"It wasn't as physical as what it had been the previous couple (practices),'' Wannstedt said, "but with the scrimmage coming up tomorrow we wanted to do things that we still need to cover, and this was a good opportunity to do them. (But) we're about halfway done with it.

"And we'll continue every day to pull up a different scenario and talk to the kids about it, so ... hopefully, putting the guys in those situations in practice, they'll respond the right way when it becomes real (during the season).''

Wannstedt praised junior quarterback Bill Stull for the second straight day. He utilized Marcel Pestano's emerging skills as a solid possession receiver, as the redshirt junior made a nice one-handed grab and stayed in-bounds for one score. Pestano also caught another clutch pass in the red-zone drills to make it first-and-goal.

Stull stuck connected with Darrell Strong as well. He hit Strong across the middle. The senior tight end pulled it in and then lunged across the goal line for a score. Strong also went up to get a ball down the middle and held on despite a pop from safety Eric Thatcher.

In the two-minute drill, Stull was extremely efficient. Pitt's controlled passing game utilized the running backs in the flat, wideouts on slants and the tight ends on quick outs with pinpoint accuracy. Cedric McGee became a target in the red zone and used his size and strength to secure a catch at the 5. Two plays later he ran a quick curl in the end zone for the score.

"(Stull) was at about 80 percent completions yesterday,'' Wannstedt said. "He's doing a very nice job of not forcing things and taking what the defense is giving him. He's throwing the ball very accurately, so I'm pleased where we're at with Billy.''

Kevan Smith wasn't as sharp, but he had his moments. He hit T.J. Porter in traffic on the far side, and the sophomore wideout held on for a touchdown. Smith also threw a short pass behind Kevin Collier, and the sophomore tailback deflected it to Ricky Gary for an interception. Smith hit the redshirt freshman cornerback in the numbers a few plays later as well, but he dropped the easy pick. Collier has worked hard, however, and displayed his blocking ability by smacking redshirt freshman linebacker Miguel Pena to allow wideout Austin Ransom to get outside for the score after a nice catch.

"The guy that probably has had the most improvement from one year to the next has been Kevin Collier,'' Wannstedt said. The coach said that Collier gave credit to the guys he is competing with, junior LaRod Stephens-Howling and freshman LeSean McCoy, who have "pushed each other very hard so far.''

Freshman Pat Bostick completed his fourth practice in less than full gear, so he'll be ready to go in Saturday morning's scrimmage. Bostick connected with redshirt freshman wideout Maurice Williams for a touchdown. He was cleared for the score by redshirt junior Frank Kochin, who took out two players.

"Bostick will scrimmage live tomorrow, and we'll get a little better feel with where he's at both mentally and physically with the offense when it's kind of for real,'' Wannstedt said. "We'll limit LaRod, because he's the one guy we've got to be careful with. (But) he's been the best. He might have had the best camp of anybody. As I've said, he's the best-kept secret in the Big East.''

Pitt has used Stephens-Howling in various situations during practice, but it might want to limit his throws. The speedy tailback took a direct snap, faked a handoff and dropped back. His lob into the end zone should have been picked, but safety Eric Thatcher knocked it down.

"We're going to do a few more special team situations live tomorrow, everything except tackling,'' Wannstedt said. "We're going to cover some kicks, cover some punts. We're going to return a few kicks on both sides of the ball, so we're going to do a little more live special teams work.

"As far as the number of plays ... we'll probably go 100 plays total and give each guy 25-30 plays and not much more to give each an opportunity to go out there to prove himself to allow us to see where he's at.''

Notes: Wideout Derek Kinder attended practice on crutches and confirmed that his knee surgery is set for Tuesday. ... Redshirt freshman MLB Dan Loheyde took a break to rest his rehabbed knee. ... Fifth-year senior OL Mike McGlynn is getting closer to a full-time practice, but he will not scrimmage.

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