Pitt Spring Practice-Friday

After a hard-hitting Thursday practice and prior to Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage, the Pitt football team went through a slightly less intense workout Friday afternoon at the UPMC Sports Complex's indoor facility.

But that doesn't mean that Pittsburgh didn't get some things accomplished. At least that's the outlook Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt has taken this spring.

"I've always believed that whether a player is a first-year player trying to win a roster spot or a five-year all-conference player, every player at some point has to get out there and perform at their highest level,'' Wannstedt said. "No. 1, to show me and the coaches. No. 2, to prove that (their) game is back.

"And No. 3, they have to make the point to their teammates that they're back playing at their same level if they're an all-conference player. From Greg Romeus to Dion Lewis or first-year starter Chris Jacobson, you need to go out there and perfect their skills and get their game to the highest level possible.''

Wannstedt noted that every player must do this during spring drills to not risk taken a step back in their progress. The same thing will occur during summer camp, but with a little more urgency.

"That's why it's important for guys like Greg Cross and Devin Street to get as much work as possible,'' Wannstedt said. "I think Cam Saddler has had a good spring. All of our quarterbacks need as much work as they can get, so it's been good for the established guys. But we're still in the evaluation process here.''

Wannstedt added that both starting quarterback Tino Sunseri and backup Pat Bostick have completed better than 70 percent of their passes so far this spring. So, with two guys playing that well, it's a nice problem to have.

"Pat's obviously more knowledgeable about everything that we're doing,'' Wannstedt said. "Tino's got a little more athletic ability and arm strength, and Tino has had a very good spring. He's working with the first group right now.

"But Pat's capable. If he was in the huddle right now with the first group, you wouldn't have anyone looking around with any doubt in their minds that we couldn't move the ball down the field and score some points.''

The Pitt offense gets a chance to move the ball downfield and get into the end zone against the Panthers defense in a full-contact scrimmage that will be run the same as last Saturday's session. Wannstedt said each guy will get about 30 plays each with situational drills, but everyone gets a chance for live work.

The Panthers went through some situational play Friday during their team drills with passing as the primary option. The first team opened with a touchdown pass from Sunseri to tight end Mike Cruz down the middle. Cornerback Saheed Imoru had excellent coverage, but the throw was perfect and Cruz had the size and hands to snag the pass for the score.

Sunseri tried to come right back to the end zone with Jon Baldwin on a corner route, but junior cornerback Antwuan Reed was there to knock the ball away. Sunseri didn't shy away from going to Baldwin again during a red-zone drill on a jump pass in the corner with Reed all over him, but the pass was high enough where only the receiver could get it.

During a second red-zone snap, Cruz ran a quick turnaround just past the goal line. Linebacker Tristan Roberts was in coverage, but he couldn't get in front of Cruz, and Sunseri's quick hitter got there first. Sunseri also found wideout Cam Saddler in the flat, and Saddler turned that short pass into a first down.

"Yards after the catch, that's what I do,'' Saddler said. "I think we'll be able to take advantage of that this year, and I've worked hard to be ready for anything. I want the quarterbacks and coaches to know that they can count on me.''

Sunseri also connected a couple times with wideout Mike Shanahan, who appears to have stepped right back into the starting role opposite Baldwin. Shanahan beat Imoru on a left corner route. It wasn't bad coverage by Imoru, but Shanahan's size and hands were no match.

Sunseri's worst two passes were interesting. He overthrow Shanahan on a crossing route, and walk-on safety Pat Costello -- a former punter -- picked it off and returned it about 20 yards. He also just missed fullback Henry Hynoski on a post route, but the interesting part was that Hyno dove for the ball even though he had no chance to get there. You have to love that guy.

When Bostick and the second group took the field the success maintained. He connected with tailback Chris Burns on two swing passes to get into the end zone on one occasion. He also hooked up with wideout Devin Street on a sharp corner route. Street beat Jackson to the corner, and Bostick was on target.

In the two-minute drill to end practice, Bostick's primary targets were Greg Cross, Saddler, Shanahan and dump-offs to the backs. It was tough to get downfield in two-minute drill, as the defense tightened its coverage.

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