Pitt Spring Practice No. 5

The Pitt football team held its fifth spring practice session Tuesday afternoon, and the Panthers finally made it outside for a workout.

Pittsburgh was indoors the opening four days, but took advantage of some warmer temperatures and got a good workout in.

"We worked on our third-down offense and defense for the first time, and we worked on our red-zone offense and defense for the first time,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "And I think all three quarterbacks played well.

"When you're in the red zone, and we were among the best in the country last year, you need to do whatever you can to get the ball in the end zone. And that's what we did today. ... We added some new wrinkles, and the kids handled it very well. So, offensively, I was pleased.

"I would look at it and say that if we can increase our passing game in the red zone and become more efficient there,'' Wannstedt added, "combined with our running game, now you're really balanced. And that's the answer.''

Wannstedt cited redshirt sophomore wideout Aaron Smith and redshirt freshman wideout Michael Shanahan for their solid performances Tuesday. Defensively, he lauded fifth-year senior defensive tackle Craig Bokor.

"Craig Bokor is a guy that we don't talk about much,'' Wannstedt noted. "But he's come a lot further along than we've given him credit for, and Craig's off to a good start in this camp.''

After being chastised for not making a play at the line of scrimmage, redshirt sophomore defensive end Tony Tucker crashed through the line and stopped redshirt freshman running back Chris Burns for a two-yard loss.

Burns came back with a slash through the line and burst into the secondary, but redshirt freshman walk-on defensive back Jeremiah Davis ran him down with help from a good angle.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Bill Stull unloaded a short pass at the line to redshirt sophomore running back Shariff Harris, as the Panthers attempted to set up a screen, but redshirt junior safety Elijah Fields blew up the play and nailed Harris with an open-field tackle for maybe a one-yard gain.

Redshirt freshman defensive end Shayne Hale made a few big plays from his left-side spot, as a backup to junior Jabaal Sheard.

Pitt ended with a red-zone period that Stull capped with a touchdown pass. He stepped up in the pocket to avoid a rush and split two defenders with a low pass. Fifth-year senior wideout Cedric McGee was the only one who could catch it between junior safety Dom DeCicco and senior cornerback Aaron Berry.

Pitt's sixth spring practice session is Thursday at 2:45 p.m.

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