Pitt's Monday Afternoon Practice

It appears to many that redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri is gaining on fifth-year senior starting quarterback Bill Stull, as the Pitt football team is in its second training-camp practice week.

However, Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt did not subscribe to that theory.

"I would just say that (Tino Sunseri) is having a good camp, but so is Pat Bostick and Bill Stull,'' Wannstedt said. "So, we're evaluating them every day and talking about it four times a day as coaches, but things are status quo.

"It's just the first week into it, and we haven't even had a live scrimmage yet. Tomorrow will separate a lot when we turn everybody loose. But Tino is making progress, and he's getting better. He's learning a lot, and I'm very encouraged with where he's at right now.''

The Panthers will hold their initial intra-squad scrimmage Tuesday afternoon, following a morning walk-through, and the quarterback play will be closely monitored by the coaching staff, the media and Pitt's fan base.

Wannstedt believed that position, as well as several others where guys are competing for playing time, since there will be "no coaches on the field, the players will be on their own, and officials will be used.

Stull and Sunseri got the majority of the first-team snaps, while Bostick was relegated primarily to second-team work. Sunseri and Bostick were the most effective, despite a strong pass rush from the first- and second-team D-lines. Stull appeared to get rattled and didn't make as many plays.

Stull was picked off by Ricky Gary on the first series in the two-minute drill, which actually is only 90 seconds. He did have a nice pass to Jonathan Baldwin down the middle, but Dom DeCicco made a big play. And under pressure, he unloaded the ball into the flat where Gary was the most open.

Sunseri utilized Baldwin on his series with the first group, connecting on a crossing pattern for about 15 yards. The two also hooked up on consecutive shots downfield on cornerback Jovani Chappel. The first set up a first-and-goal, and the second was a lob for the score.

Bostick threw two big passes to Aaron Smith, beating Antwuan Reed to change field position and for a touchdown in front of Jason Hendricks.

There were others who had a strong day, and Wannstedt cited their play.

"I thought that from a personnel standpoint, the development of some of our backup defensive linemen has shown up,'' Wannstedt said. "I've been very pleased with Shayne Hale, Tony Tucker, Brandon Lindsey. We moved Justin Hargrove to defensive tackle inside. I've been very pleased with their progress. They've been very steady day after day.''

The offensive linemen did a better job against the D-line during the one-on-one portion of practice, but during the 11-on-11 and 90-second drill the defensive front was virtually unstoppable. Freshman tailbacks Ray Graham and Jason Douglas both had a couple big runs each, but at one point the second-team D-line had to be put in against the ones to give them a little better chance.

"I thought the young running backs, Ray Graham and Jason Douglas both showed up and made some plays today,'' Wannstedt said. "That was very encouraging. You could see their athleticism and ability, but it'll be interesting to see them in the scrimmage when it's full speed with no help from the coaches. Will they be able to deal with it all?''

Since sophomore Lucas Nix was excused due to an infection in his leg, a condition he had before camp but just got treated, redshirt sophomore Greg Gaskins got the start at right tackle. And Chris Jacobson continued to start at right offensive guard.

In the secondary, safeties Irvan Brown (left calf strain) and Elijah Fields (right foot) were out, so Andrew Taglianetti started and Marco Pecora, who later suffered a right ankle injury, got more reps. And at tight end, with seniors Nate Byham (headaches) and Dorin Dickerson (hamstring) out, freshman Brock DeCicco and redshirt frosh Justin Virbitsky stepped up as well.

"From a secondary standpoint,'' Wannstedt noted, "I've been very pleased with the development of Jarred Holley. Dan Mason continues to show us that he's going to be an outstanding player for us at the University of Pittsburgh. So, overall, I see a of improvement from our young guys.

"Brock DeCicco, with the chance to get more reps (since three tight ends are out), he got some with the first-team offense, and I thought he held his own. That's not the scenario that we want on opening day, but he's dealing with it well for now and had a good day.''

Just one final note on Mason. While Wannstedt did not believe he had a chance to start ahead of sixth-year senior Adam Gunn, Mason has turned some heads.

"Physically, Mason is ready to play,'' Wannstedt said. "But every day is a new learning experience for him as we continue to add plays. But I also will be interested to see him a couple weeks for now and after three games. ... I could see him getting some playing time.''

And that could start in the scrimmage Tuesday.

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