Pitt, Stull Have Scare

For just a minute late in Monday afternoon's training camp practice, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt likely flashed back to last season, Sept. 1, 2007, to be exact.

During an 11-on-11, team drill, starting quarterback Bill Stull was hit and went down, as defensive end Jabaal Sheard shoved right tackle Joe Thomas back into him. Stull clearly was in some discomfort. A few series later, however, Stull returned and finished the practice. And all was well for Pittsburgh.

"He got elbowed in the ribs earlier in practice, and that's what happened there,'' Wannstedt said. "I think he might have hit himself. We're not live on the quarterbacks or hitting the quarterbacks, but we're going to rush the passer.

"(And) Billy's a tough guy. He's a street guy. He's a Pittsburgh guy. ... He wants to win, and he wants to play. So, he's going to do everything he can to make that happen. And you can't do that if you're not in there.''

Wannstedt went on to praise Stull for his performance during the first training camp practice week. The coach noted that Stull has thrown 115 passes in camp and was intercepted just once. And his completion rate is nearly 70 percent. Apparently, backup Pat Bostick is right behind that number.

"The biggest concern I have right now is doing what we need to do for this team to win,'' Wannstedt said. "Billy and Pat are both playing well, but I would say that it's between them two. They've separated themselves from the rest. Greg Cross has his little packages, and Kevan Smith is still learning, but working hard. And Tino is a freshman, but ... he's going to be a good player for us.''

Wannstedt believed that while the offensive line is a concern right now, it will come together in the next couple weeks and "we'll have the guys in there to get the job done.'' That unit, along with the rest of the offense, had a solid day.

"Today might have been our best total practice so far,'' Wannstedt said. "Today is the first day that I will say, honestly, that it was a heckuva practice from start to finish. The reason was that the guys had the right mind-set, and we practiced hard, practiced with a lot of enthusiasm and got a lot done.''

The Panthers also got some banged-up players back for this practice like defensive end Greg Romeus, defensive tackle Mick Williams, defensive tackle Gus Mustakas and cornerback Aaron Berry. Wideouts Derek Kinder and T.J. Porter practiced for the second straight day and appeared to be fine. It remains to be seen if this group is limited for Tuesday's scrimmage.

Two players are still out, cornerback Buddy Jackson (hamstring) and defensive end Doug Fulmer (left knee). While Wannstedt believed that Jackson should be fine for Tuesday, Fulmer could be in trouble. He twisted his good knee during practice Sunday and had an MRI test done Monday. His status is unknown.

There was a good one-on-one matchup between the linemen, and the defensive group certainly had the edge. Not a decided one, really, because Jason Pinkston, C.J. Davis, Robb Houser, John Malecki, Chris Jacobson and Lucas Nix held their own on occasion. Although Jabaal Sheard and Nix was a good match.

Right tackle Joe Thomas struggled against Sheard as well. And Jordan Gibbs had problems on the left side. Rashaad Duncan, Romeus, Williams and Mustakas also looked good. The one tough matchup Houser had was against redshirt freshman Myles Caragein, who had the strength and quickness to slice past him.

In the team (11-on-11) drills, the biggest play appeared to be a defensive stuff on a reverse to Kinder. However, just as linebacker Shane Murray came up to make the stop, Kinder launched a long pass to a wide-open Oderick Turner. And safety Dom DeCicco just couldn't get there in time.

That wasn't the case for freshman cornerback Jarred Holley, as he picked off an errant Bostick pass. It was the only pick of the day for the defense.

While Pitt certainly has two of the toughest fullbacks in senior Conredge Collins and redshirt freshman Henry Hynoski, 220-pound running back Shariff Harris is a hammer in the backfield. He scored the only rushing touchdown in the short-yardage, goal-line drills and had about a 20-yard run that had a delayed whistle because the defense couldn't stop him. Harris appears to have remained ahead of redshirt sophomore Kevin Collier, who was stripped of the ball by Tony Tucker on one run. Collier did have a couple nice sweeps left early in practice.

Redshirt frosh outside linebacker Greg Williams showed his speed and athleticism by successfully reading a rollout by Smith. Williams came up quickly, before Smith even had a chance to react, and shut down the play.

Some of the better secondary play was turned in with safety Eric Thatcher coming over the top to knock a pass away from Turner. Freshman Antwuan Reed defended on to Jonathan Baldwin, who has a big height advantage, and Jovani Chappel smacked several pass-catchers for their trouble. But Dickerson slipped into the end zone for a touchdown catch on him from Bostick.

Wannstedt praised several players.

"I thought Chris Burns did some good things today, Shariff Harris,'' Wannstedt said. "We went live, full-speed goal-line and short-yardage (situations), and I thought those two guys did a nice job.

"John Pelusi is off to a good start in this camp. We all know about Nate (Byham) and Dorin (Dickerson), the type of players and athletes they are, but the guy who's as valuable as any of them is John Pelusi.''

There will be two practices Tuesday and Thursday with the first intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. There will be single practices Wednesday and Friday from 2-5 p.m. and the second scrimmage Saturday from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Panther Digest Top Stories