Pitt Practice Report Six

Before practice Thursday, Panther coach Dave Wannstedt said he was starting to get an idea of which players could really step up and make an impact on the field. And without question, his first-team defense looks to be filed with those players.

Once again, the defense looked very solid for Pitt. In one of the more physical practices of the spring, defensive lineman Greg Romeus and Mick Williams constantly blew through the offensive line, shattering any hopes of a rhythm or steady flow from the offense.

"As shorthanded as we are on offense, we've got a little bit of depth on defense," Wannstedt said. "[Recently] we've recruited six or seven defensive linemen that have worked out."

Those defensive linemen have forced the inexperienced offensive line to struggle throughout the spring, leaving some questions about who will be playing what positions when the fall arrives. This was evident especially during the inside running drill, where LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling couldn't find seams up the middle. The defensive line was getting the push and, when holes did emerge, the linebackers plugged them quickly.

"The whole offensive line is kind of competing for spots," Wannstedt said. "But Tony [Wise] is doing a good job [as offensive line coach]. We're getting closer."

But while the majority of the offensive line is inexperienced, there is one guy who has seen a good amount of time on the field – even if it's at another position.

Junior Joe Thomas, who played the last two seasons at right guard, is now making the transition to right tackle. There, he's quickly adapting and getting used to blocking the quick defensive ends. Thomas did play tackle in high school, so the position isn't completely new to him. But it's a change nonetheless, and Wannstedt said it might take a little bit of time before Thomas is completely comfortable.

"His attitude is good and he's making the most of it," Wannstedt said. "He's handled it extremely well, I've seen some improvement."

Wannstedt said he was also impressed with Rob Houser, who's been "the most consistent" on the line thus far in the spring.

Hanging behind the line, the quarterback battle continued on Thursday. Bill Stull and Pat Bostick took the majority of the snaps and, considering how well the defense played, had decent days.

"It's open right now," Wannstedt said of the quarterback position. "I'm not down on any of them. They all bring a little something different to the table."

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the day was the mobility of Bostick, who lost 17 pounds in the offseason and has improved his arm strength.

Bostick was able to duck away from defenders and escape from the pocket on several occasions, displaying an aspect of his game not present last year. On one particular play, Bostick dodged two defenders, rolled right and fired a strike on the run to the right side for a completed pass.

"He's moving around better than he ever has," Wannstedt said of Bostick. "[But] if I were to say who I am most pleased today, it'd probably be Billy Stull."

Wannstedt said he expects to know more about who can play where after the team scrimmage Saturday.

"We can come out here and practice all we want, [but] there's no substitute for playing the game. There will be three or four guys that come out of that scrimmage and have elevated themselves because of making plays. There will be three or four guys that have looked in drills, and when the lights come on and the ball is snapped, they can't make a play."

One player certainly hoping to make some plays when the lights go on is Dorin Dickerson. Dickerson, who lettered as a linebacker last year, is now taking reps at tight end. The junior from Imperial, Pa. had a solid day both blocking and making catches. With his combination of speed and strength, Dickerson made defenders miss and also put his head down to fight for extra yards when needed. And with Jonathan Baldwin on his way, and Derek Kinder recovering from injury, Dickerson has shown the potential to develop into a big-time threat in an already strong group of receivers.


Cameron Saddler, Tino Sunseri and Ryan Turnley showed up to watch practice.

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