Monday, March 30, 2009

First Scrimmage Thoughts

So yesterday we got our first chance to look at the team in a live situation. For all the numbers I'm using credit goes to Gorman's blog on the Trib website:
  • I'll start with something positive and that is Jonathan Baldwin. Baldwin dominated our cornerbacks and it appears as though Cignetti has made getting him the ball priority number 1. He caught a huge 50 yard plus touchdown pass from Billy Stull. Then he caught another touchdown pass in the endzone. Baldwin is going to be an All Big East 1st team player at the end of the season.
  • Stull had a very disappointing day only completing 2/7 passes and throwing a pick. This type of performance would put a normal quarterback in jeopardy of losing his job. Will this performance have any effect on the distribution of snaps this week with the first team for Stull? If it truly is "Billy's job to lose" then he is doing a great job of testing that statement out.
  • Dion Lewis is becoming the star of training camp. Lewis got to play with the first team and had a very decent day with 12 carries for 62 yard. I'm very interested to see what Lewis looks like in the Blue-Gold game because the coaching staff is in love with him.
  • Lucas Nix is still getting second team reps which doesn't surprise me at all. Gibbs is a guy that Wanny loads up with playing time in spring then forgets about in the fall. Do I think this means Nix will jump into a starting spot in the fall? Of course not, Wanny is keeping left tackle warm for Pinkston and giving Nix less snaps is an easy way to justify not starting him. Right tackle will be Joe Thomas barring injury because of the fact that he is a senior. Jacobson appears to have a good shot at winning the left guard job which is promising.
  • Bostick and Sunseri both had a decent scrimmage but neither set the game on fire. Sunseri drew praise from Wanny for making a couple of passes under big pressure. Bostick was extremely efficient with his passing and had a good completion percentage. One of these two is going to have to do something amazing before the end of spring to jump Stull.
Coming up this week keep your eyes on who is playing with the first team. That could give you a decent idea as to what the two-deep will look come summer practice.

1 comment:

rkohberger said...

Baldwin certainly has the talent for your prediction of All-BE by year's end. Of course, that is predicated on us getting a QB in place who can help make that happen. PITT football is increasingly getting to be like ancient Rome is the sense that "All roads lead to Rome" At PITT it's apparent "All roads lead to the QB".

Your take on Bostick's play is telling in the sense that what we may need more than anything else is a QB who is consistent in getting the ball in the play maker's hands (not an original thought is it?) The key word here is "consistent" as that's what we have been missing over the last two years. Had Bill Stull been able to maintain his decent play of mid-season through the last four games we wouldn't be having this QB controversy, but that didn't, or couldn't, happen. That's what makes me so nervous about Stull - if he had been terrible all year it would be so easy to take him out of the equation - but he did just well enough in some games to keep a flickering hope alive that he may be able to replicate that. I have my doubts.

Lewis' making his case for a starting job (or at least playing time) as a true freshman is interesting. From all reports he's not just a player who breaks a flashy play ever so often, but has been playing hard and getting positive results on a consistent basis (there's that word again). Hey, I was hoping to see Chris Burns be the centerpiece this 2009 season, but if Lewis continues to show that he's a valuable player to have in there - so much the better. Regardless, I think by the time summer camp is winding down we'll all feel pretty good about the RB position.

Gorman's article was a bit dramatic regarding the OL IMO. it's so early yet, and we are missing key players in the squad still. Wondering how the OL will be has been quickly becoming a PITT tradition - but I thinks it's both premature at this point and in a real sense unfounded. Last year it was the big question mark of preseason, and I think the unit acquitted itself very well during the regular season - turning into a strong point as the year went on. I don't doubt that we have the kids and the position coach in Tony Wise to make that happen again.

I'm also not so concerned about our special teams play. Yes, we are losing two good kickers in Lee and Brytus (who I think did just fine as a punter last season) but this is what happens in college ball - kids come and go. We've recruited well at the place kicking spot so having two good candidates puts us in a pretty good position.

All in all, I feel that the first week of spring camp sounds like it went pretty well. We all know that defense always dominates the offense in the first practice sessions, and that happened again this season. But, aside from QB, I believe we are seeing some real strengths beginning to develop on offense - mainly at RB and with our WRs. Baldwin aside, Shanahan has done well and Cruz and DD at the TE positions have performed up to par. As good as I think our defense will be, and I think it will be very good, for the offense to be able to execute as they have so far - not great but still effective - is a bright spot at this point.