Pitt football notebook: Results of scrimmage a Catch-22

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After Pitt’s first scrimmage of training camp Saturday, Panthers coach Paul Chryst was quick to note that, by the very nature of intrasquad practices, any success on one side of the ball is equalled by failure on the other side.

In this instance, the focus was Pitt’s running game. The Panthers struggled to move the ball consistently on the ground against their own defense, with only a handful of runs longer than 5 or 6 yards all afternoon.

On the flip side, that could be a good sign for Pitt’s front seven, an area of concern as the Panthers try to replace All-American Aaron Donald.

“I thought they did a nice job there [on run defense],” Chryst said. “You look at that and I think you see some of the details offensively as to why we were struggling. We’ve got to clean that up, but the bottom line is I thought the defense did a nice job, especially early in the scrimmage versus the run.”

Chryst said he was pleased overall with the work his team got in over the 141 plays, which included some red-zone, short-yardage and two-minute drill scenarios.

“We got a lot of guys the number of reps that we needed,” he said. “We need to kind of evaluate from [the reps] and [we] came out of it healthy. That’s always good. Came out of it with a lot of good film.”

The Panthers have a scrimmage scheduled Tuesday, before wrapping up training camp Thursday. Their season opens Aug. 30 with a home game against Delaware.

Voytik looking like the starter

Quarterback Chad Voytik still hasn’t officially been named the starter, but the redshirt sophomore took every snap with the first team in the scrimmage Saturday.

Voytik ended the session on a high note with a 58-yard touchdown pass to running back Rachid Ibrahim, but was up and down until that point. He missed a chance for a big play earlier when he overthrew a wide open Manasseh Garner deep downfield.

“I thought he did some things that were all right and then he has a couple he’d want back,” Chryst said. “… I love the way he goes about the study of [film], so this will be a good one for him to see and clean up.”

Maddox turning heads

Freshman cornerback Avonte Maddox drew praise from both Chryst and position coach Troy Douglas for his physical play Saturday.

In addition to nearly picking off a pass on a slant route, Maddox made back-to-back tackles on running back James Conner, who is listed at 85 pounds heavier than Maddox. Douglas said it’s important that Maddox displays that physicality, because it’s impossible to get by as simply a “cover corner” in college football.

“There’s no such animal in college football,” Douglas said. “We’ve got to play Georgia Tech, so everybody’s going to get cut [block], everybody’s got to tackle. There’s no Deion [Sanders] in college. You can’t just be a cover guy. You’ve got to be a willing tackler. I’m not saying you need to go knock the crap out of people, but you need to get them on the ground.”

Boyd gets day off

Sophomore receiver Tyler Boyd did not take part in the contact portion of the scrimmage, and Chryst said it was simply a “rest day” for Boyd. Freshman receiver Adonis Jennings also did not participate, as he is dealing with a nagging injury from earlier in camp.

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG

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