Thursday, April 8, 2010

Injuries, Secondary issues, and Todd Thomas

On Tuesday the Pitt secondary took a hit as Aundre Wright was helped off the field with a leg injury. We were all hoping this wasn't going to be too severe, but thankfully the full extent of the injury hasn't been released yet. I can confirm that right now Aundre is on crutches but is able to move around. It doesn't appear from the eye that it is too severe of an injury, but you can never tell with these things. We saw the same thing with Shane Murray as day to day ended up being a season ending injury. Hopefully Wannstedt has some news for us as the secondary is in desperate need of depth. Just in case you were wondering how bad it is right now (the sky isn't falling we just have some minor injuries) here is the safety breakdown from Tuesdays practice.

FS - Jarred Holley, Marco Pecora
SS - Todd Gilchrist, Pat Costello, Kolby Gray

I know the staff is talking about having Todd Thomas at wide receiver when he enrolls at Pitt in May, but safety is where he should be. We have plenty of depth and talent at wide receiver to hold us over for quite some time. The secondary is a different story though with Tags coming back from injury, Dom missing some time, and a lack of overall concern about recruiting the position. The best thing for this unit is time as they will be able to get more guys reps in practice while allowing Dom, Aundre Wright, Tags, and Jason Hendricks to recover from the injury bug.

The other news is that while having a productive day on Tuesday, Greg Cross looks to be favoring his left ankle a bit. He does have a special boot that he has been wearing. Again this is just a minor issue, but no official word from Pitt on his status.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Catching Up With Cam

I had the pleasure of talking with Cam Saddler last night and was able to find out some of his thoughts on the team thus far into spring practice.

First off without even asking about the team Cam was really excited to talk about how hungry the team is. The Cincy game left a bad taste in everyone's mouth and the players are really taking it to heart. Outside of Nate Byham last year, I don't remember ever seeing a player put so much emphasis on winning the Big East title, but it sure looks like everyone on this team views the league championship as a goal that needs to happen. With the talent we have coming back and the losses suffered by teams around the league the team has realistic expectations of winning this conference.

When asked how things were going in spring camp thus far Cam was excited to talk about how the offense is shining. As we've seen in years past the defense has pretty much shut the offense down the entire time. This year is a bit different with the offense staying competitive with the defense. With our weapons in place at the skill positions even the 2nd and 3rd teamers are shining. This speaks highly of Cignetti's ability as a coach. With only 1 year in the system we're finally seeing an offense that can run and throw the ball.

While on the subject of passing, we should have a variety of packages to use on the field. We have a smaller speed package we can throw out to stretch the field and we can also go big if needed. I asked Cam who could potentially break out this year and without hesitation he went straight to Devin Street. It could have been because they were hanging out together, but something tells me with the success he found last year in camp plus the reports that he's been improving every day that Street will make a difference for this team in a big way. I just don't know if it is this year due to the immense depth we have at the receiver and tight end position which may limit his time.

It is always good to see the guys so excited about the team. I'm sure we've all run into players who view football as a job which can anger the fiery fans. This year's team doesn't seem to have it. I think this is one year where the cards are all falling in place for Pitt. The players want it, the coaches want it, and the fans want it.

As Cam said, we can't have any excuses this year. This league has fallen into place for us this year. That doesn't mean we are a shoe in for anything as the past two years we could have held the Big East crown. This year is the year it needs to happen. With a team assembled of all Wanny guys and with the top assistants having plenty of time to work with the players we shouldn't have any questions on how to best prepare for the season. We will know our strengths and we will know our weaknesses. The key is exploiting those to our advantage.

On another positive note, as reported by Chris Peak at Pantherlair yesterday, Todd Thomas was finally cleared by the NCAA to play for Pitt and he will enroll this May. It looks like they will have him at wide receiver initially, but given our depth issues in the secondary as well as his natural talent, I really hope we move him over to the defensive side of the ball as that is where he is needed and where he could make the greatest impact immediately.