Pitt Notebook: Weekday opener changes routine

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Pitt had a crisp workout Saturday morning in front of alumni that gathered at the UPMC South Side facility to watch the team go through one of the final workouts of camp. Normally, this Saturday is Pitt's longest and most important scrimmage of camp, but the Thursday night opener against Utah rearranged the schedule.

The coaches used Saturday's practice to fine-tune some areas of concern and had a short live period at the end for those former players who came to watch.

"I thought today was good," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was good work with not being an all-out scrimmage. We were able to zero in and script some specific parts of our game we need to improve, offensively, defensively and special teams."

Wannstedt made it a point to mention, however, that the team is nowhere near being ready for its Sept. 2 opener against Utah.

"Are we ready to play this football game? No we are not," he said.

The Panthers will practice once today and again Monday at Heinz Field at FanFest. The Monday practice is the official end of camp. The players have off Tuesday, and practices from Wednesday forward will be dedicated to preparing for Utah.

Street in receiver rotation

Redshirt freshman Devin Street has solidified his place in the receiver rotation behind Jon Baldwin, Mike Shanahan and Cam Saddler. Street has performed better throughout camp than senior Greg Cross and redshirt freshman Ed Tinker. He made another nice catch Saturday on a fade pattern when he jumped over a defender and kept his feet inbounds for a touchdown during a goal-line drill.

"Devin Street has kind of emerged as the fourth guy," Wannstedt said. "He can play [flanker or split end]. He gives us the flexibility of playing with size with Baldwin or Shanahan. After that, it's been Greg Cross and Tinker. We've been very inconsistent. Other than the top four guys I couldn't tell you who is next in line."

Special teams in good shape

Wannstedt has been pleased with his special teams through two weeks of camp. He said that is a good sign because special teams play can make or break games early in the season.

"More games are determined by special teams play in the first three games of the season than any other time in the year," Wannstedt said. "Everyone has new kids on there, everyone has changes. You have to be darned sound all year, but particularly early in the season."

Quick hits

Running back Ray Graham (knee) and defensive end Greg Romeus (back spasms) sat out practice again. Romeus has practiced only once in full pads. That was Monday. He worked with strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris on the sideline Saturday. ...Wannstedt singled out junior defensive end Justin Hargrove for his improved work. Hargrove, who graduated from Baldwin High School, worked with the second-team Saturday. ... The one remaining spot on the offensive line is right guard, and Wannstedt said that Greg Gaskins has been the most consistent player at that position. Gaskins, a junior, is battling Ryan Turnley for the starting job. ... Wannstedt said holder Andrew Janocko likely will have his scholarship renewed.

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1230.


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