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.