Obviously we knew that we would not see much of sophomore sensation LeSean McCoy, but we weren't expecting to see a redshirt freshman take over the game, but that is what Shariff Harris did on Saturday. Harris, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound standout from (Jersey City/N.J./St. Peter's Prep) carried the ball nine times for 63 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a thing of beauty as he ran off left guard and ran into a congested pile of bodies. Harris then spun out of the pile and found paydirt.
Harris has made a name for himself by being a tough and powerful inside runner, but during the spring game he showed a nice burst and some acceleration once he got loose. Harris is in a battle with Kevin Collier for the third running back spot, but today's performance may have vaulted him into the lead.
PantherDigest Game Balls:
Defensive end Tony Tucker another talented redshirt freshman from (Washington/D.C./St. John's College) was relentless off the edge. Tucker had two sacks and a number of quarterback pressures. One of his most impressive plays was when Greg Cross broke loose on a 29 yard scramble, it was Tucker who chased him down. He seems to have an extra gear when he is in pursuit.
A year ago, Greg Williams (Naples/Fla.) was playing running back. He has since switched to linebacker and he looks like a natural. Williams blitzed three times and had two sacks. He made a number of plays on the day and was very active. Williams has been timed at (4.45) and you can see it is true. He gives the Panthers some much needed speed at linebacker.
Mo Williams (Erie/Pa./Strong Vincent) is still learning how to play wide receiver, but you'd never know it by watching him. Williams looks like a grizzled veteran. He is a rare athlete that just makes plays. He had one of the best plays of the game with a leaping grab of a wobbly Greg Cross pass over an outstretched Buddy Jackson. Williams also snared a touchdown catch. He could end up as the No. 2 wide receiver eventually if he continues his progression.
Robb Houser (Butte/Cal.) a junior college transfer has really seized the opportunity he was given. Houser looked very good at the point of attack. He made very mistakes that we could see. He had no fumbled exchanges with the quarterbacks, which was a big issue early in the Spring. Houser cleared a beautiful hole up the middle on LeSean McCoy's touchdown run early in the game.
Dom DeCicco from (Jefferson Hills/Pa./Thomas Jefferson) has finally given the Panthers what they have lacked for a long time. An active safety that makes plays all over the field. DeCicco was great in coverage and he will stick you. He never shies away from contact. He is battling Elijah Fields, but he stepped up in a big way on Saturday.
Greg Cross (Fort Scott/Kansas) is not a prototype drop back passer by any means. He threw some ugly balls out there, but he is a great athlete and he showed some flashes of things he can do that no other Pitt quarterback can do. He juked about six defenders out of their socks on an impressive 29 yard scamper. We have decided to award a gameball to all the Pitt quarterbacks Bill Stull, Pat Bostick and Kevan Smith. Why you may ask? It's easy, with as much criticism as the offense has taken all spring long, these guys never gave up and they cam out today ready to play. Each guy was accurate and they made the plays that they were asked to make. It should make for an interesting battle this fall.
The entire offensive line and Tony Wise also deserve a game ball. Yes, they did allow some sacks, but they played their best ball of the spring. It is critical in terms of building depth for some of these guys to rise up and play well. We feel that they did that. The Pitt defensive line is a special group that is going to give fits to just about anyone they play this year.
For those fans that want to say Dorin Dickerson (Imperial/Pa./West Allegheny) is a bust, well let us quote Lee Cors here "not so fast my friend" Dickerson has found his niche. His niche is being a tight end, a hybrid tight end if you will. He is an athlete and will be mismatch problems for any defense. You're almost forced to cover him with a defensive back and that causes problems in coverages. Dickerson is still skilled as a pass catcher, but he showed that he can block as well.
Lastly, we give a game ball to Buddy Jackson. Jackson is not hard to notice because he was all over the field making plays. He got beat once by Mo Williams, but you could not have covered him any better than he did. Jackson is in a battle with Jovoni Chappel, but with his size at nearly (6-1) and his (4.3) speed, Jackson may have the upper hand