McCoy Spectacular With 1st Team

While Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has praised junior tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling throughout training camp for his solid performance, it was freshman LeSean McCoy who pumped up the crowd watching the Panthers second intrasquad scrimmage Saturday morning at the UPMC Sports Complex.

Several series into the session, LeSean McCoy lined up in the backfield with the first team and put on a show. He had a 12-yard burst, making two players miss at the line and added a nifty nine-yard run. But the big play was a 32-yard jaunt around the right end where he made one cutback that ended any chance for Pitt's defenders to stop him except safety Eric Thatcher who had an angle.

McCoy also caught a screen pass for five yards in the drive and capped it with a pitch to the right for a touchdown from the 7. McCoy finished with just 10 carries for 78 yards and the one score, but he dazzled those in attendance every time he touched the ball.

"It was great to get LeSean McCoy involved today,'' Wannstedt said. "He showed up today, and he's gotten better since the first week. (And) if you're going to run the football, which we are, you're going to need them all. Kevin Collier and Conredge (Collins) and even Shariff Harris, he's going to be a heckuva player for us. So, I was pleased with all the backs.''

Harris and Collier had six carries each for 18 and 17 yards, respectively, while Collins and his backup at fullback Shane Brooks, each pounded over the goal line from short range. The longest run from scrimmage was on a reverse by frosh wideout Aundre Wright.

Quarterback Bill Stull and McCoy both praised Pitt's offensive line for opening some nice holes, but the running back hit them with a vengeance and got more yardage than a lesser back would get. But don't tell McCoy that he necessarily made a statement to the coaches with his play.

"I wouldn't say that I made a big statement today, but I felt good out there,'' McCoy said. "And when the coaches have given me a chance to play I've been able to do pretty well. But it's the mental aspect of the game that I need to keep working on with the offense.

"So, I'm just getting more comfortable. From the scrimmages to the practices, it's a whole big change in the tempo of the game. So, in the first scrimmage, I was kind of hesitant, thinking about what I was told in the meetings to see if I could do them on the field. Today, I just felt comfortable and let everything flow together and let it go.

"So, my progression has increased big-time,'' McCoy added. "From my first day here to now, there's such a big difference from me learning in the meeting room and coming out and bringing it onto the field. From the day that we started until now, my progression has increased big-time.''

But is there this big competition between he and his roommate, Stephens-Howling, for Pitt's starting tailback job?

"They make us out to be, not enemies, but battling all the time,'' McCoy said. "But we're great friends. He's more like my dad, teaching me everything, and I know my role. He's the starter, and I'm going to follow in his footsteps. But we can be in the same backfield at the same time. And he's a great player. And someone who's that quick, I just have to learn off him.

"(But) I feel we're coming together as a great team, and what happened is that guys are hungry. And we feel that we can be a good team. Pitt has a great tradition and has been a great team in the past, and we believe we can do it again. We have a lot of talent, but we just have to pick it up.''

All those holes that the offensive line opened could improve next week, as fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn could return to full-time duty. He has been rehabbing his left shoulder after surgery this past spring and has increased his playing time markedly this past week. But he has not yet scrimmaged.

"I think Mike will help, but I'm not sure where Mike will play,'' Wannstedt said. "With his experience and ability, when he gets back, we'll need him to get out there as fast as he can. He was a lot better this week. He put the shoulder pads on, but we'll see where he's at next week.''

Pitt opens the regular season against Eastern Michigan Sept. 1 at Heinz Field.

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