Cignetti, Pitt Offense Look For Improvement

When a question about his group's progress was prefaced with a comment that Pitt's defense was ahead of his offense, Panthers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti refuted it after the recent scrimmage.

Pittsburgh has two more practices this week before the annual Blue-Gold spring game April 11 at 2 p.m. at Heinz Field.

"I thought we played fast,'' Cignetti said. "We wanted to get the ball in certain guys hands, like Dorin Dickerson, and we did that. We moved the sticks, but we also came up a little short on other occasions. I thought it was a tough, physical scrimmage and we were able to do some things in the run game.

"I thought we found out some things about our quarterbacks in the passing game. We tried to pass the ball a little more. We had some excellent runs in the red zone, and it was very productive overall for the offense. ... We're not game-planning, but implementing and installing this spring.

"There's no question, I'd like to see more touchdowns when we get into the red zone,'' Cignetti added. "We don't want our kicker to come out unless it's for an extra point. Our quarterbacks are making progress, but it's a journey. We have a great competition, but I'll have a better analysis after I watch the film.''

While fifth-year senior Bill Stull has maintained his role as Pitt's starting quarterback since spring practice began March 19, but he hasn't worked exclusively with the first team. Junior Pat Bostick shared first-team reps during the second scrimmage Saturday, while redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri has worked quite a bit with the second team recently.

Cignetti stressed that each quarterback has progressed this spring, and then he discussed the situation with Bostick.

"Pat's done a great job running the offense,'' Cignetti said. "He's done a great job completing the football, and he's done a great job protecting the football. So, we wanted to give him an opportunity to run with the ones this week and throw the ball more in the scrimmage.''

Cignetti noted that the Panthers will continue to use the quarterbacks with different groups as the spring winds down to get a better read on how they stack up against similar competition.

Cignetti then turned his attention to the running backs and specifically to freshman tailback Dion Lewis.

"It's very obvious that Dion's a playmaker, and he's got to get his touches in the running game and the passing game,'' Cignetti said. "He has an ability to make people miss, and that's very important. Shariff Harris, we used him at fullback a bit (to) see if he can be a multiple back in terms of playing both.''

There also was an opportunity at fullback for walk-on Joe Capp, the transfer from Texas Tech, since redshirt sophomore Henry Hynoski has been nursing a turf toe injury and has been in a walking boot for a few days.

"Joe Capp has been a pleasant surprise, and he's practicing hurt,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "That's a testimony to his toughness, and it's a long way from Lubbock, Texas to Pittsburgh. So, he's here and is making the most of it. (And) I think he can help us on special teams this season.

"Frank and I were talking during the scrimmage. We weren't trying to come out and zero in on getting one guy the ball. We tried to run our offense. We ran the boots, the screens (and) threw the ball deep. We did a little bit of everything. ... Our quarterbacks got banged around. They tucked it and scrambled. They got hit, and I thought that was good for their development.''

Notes: Along with Harris, Kevin Collier has worked at fullback and tailback. ... Brandon Lindsey has been at defensive end and middle linebacker. ... Dan Hutchins is a punter and place-kicker. ... And right offensive guard John Malecki has been taking pre-practice snaps with the centers and quarterbacks.

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