Cignetti : No Panic Button

Pitt held its second scrimmage of training camp on Wednesday. This time around, the defense got the best of the offense, holding them to one score. Part of it was the fact that Dion Lewis ran just five times. Jon Baldwin didn't stay in much past the first series. Does Pitt rely too much on these two All-American candidates, or did it come down to schematics?

The answer, is neither, according to Cignetti. Knowing full well that he wasn't going to have Lewis and Baldwin, much more than a few plays, Cignetti decided to employ a one-back, three-receiver set for the scrimmage. With it being training camp, and with a bevy of wide receivers in the mix, and with Baldwin taking limited reps, why not see what the others could do. Henry Hynoski had also been limited, since sustaining a mild concussion in Saturday's scrimmage.

"Jonathan Baldwin is a proven player," Cignetti said. "There's room for improvement, obviously. We're trying to find out, what can some of the other guys do."

Then, there was the chance to see what the offense would look like without Lewis and Hynoski. What Baldwin means to the receivers, Lewis and Hynoski mean to the running game. No, Hynoski didn't rush for the same amount of yards that Lewis had last year, but Hynoski's physical presence is evident every time he's out there. If there's ever a time he's not going to be out there, Cignetti took this time in training camp, to see what his options would be for a situation like that.

"We know what we can do when Dion and Henry Hynoski can do on the field," Cignetti said. "That's not what you saw (Wednesday). We need to find what we can do outside of those guys."

Instead of getting a glimpse of what his offense might look like in a different set, Cignetti is finding himself having to go back to basics. Better of him to employ a system now, in a live scrimmage, than during game week. Aside from the fundamental mistakes his unit made, he has something to look back on, and either push through with it now, or come back to it some point later in the season.

This is an offense, Wednesday, that saw receivers drop five catchable balls and fumble one. There was also a miscommunication on Devin Street's part, when he went in motion after the ball was snapped, colliding with quarterback Pat Bostick from behind, which forced a fumble. There were also three botched center-quarterback exchanges, all three between Jack Lippert and Bostick.

Cignetti remained firm and disappointed, but optimistic.

"I saw things out there (Wednesday), that can lose football games," Cignetti said. "I saw inefficiency in the passing game. I saw turnovers. I saw penalties. I saw dropped balls. All the things that we talk about, in terms of playing smart, and minimizing mistakes, those mistakes showed up today."

All four quarterbacks (Sunseri, Bostick, Gonzalez, Myers) combined to go 12-of-37 for 84 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Cignetti downplayed the fact that players may be tired from camp.

"We didn't rise to the occasion; everybody's tired," Cignetti said. "This is football camp. There's no excuses. I don't know, at this point, if you ever aren't tired, until the season's over. Once again, we have to evaluate what happened."

The one-back, three-receiver set may still work, and it may be worked into practice at some point this season. For now, the offense must gain a little of its pride back, by going back to the fundamentals. At the same time, the offensive players need to apply themselves better in the live scrimmage situations, instead of just looking good in individual drills.

"We're trying to find out a little more of the concepts we have going on, that look great in practice, but then you go live, and it's a little different," Cignetti said. "Doing things in pass skeleton, and nine-on-nine team drills is a little different than doing things in a live scrimmage.

"When things are bad, they're never as bad as you think it is. We put our guys in a tough situation today in terms of the groupings; schematically what we're trying to do. And, we were going up against a very good defense. In the long run, today's going to make ourselves a better offense."


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