Pitt Notebook: Solid first effort, but overall a bit 'vanilla'
Greg Cross goes up to pull in a 23-yard pass in front of Kolby Gray in Saturday's scrimmage.
Running back Ray Graham is upended during Pitt's first full scrimmage of camp Saturday at its South Side practice facility.
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Pitt had an 88-play scrimmage that was rather uneventful, mostly because many of the defensive starters were held out either because of injury or for precautionary reasons.
Topping that list was defensive end Greg Romeus, who has now not practiced for an entire week with what is being described as back spasms and soreness.
But a number of other starters joined Romeus on the sidelines for the scrimmage, including defensive tackle Myles Caragein (ankle), safety Dom DeCicco (hamstring), linebacker Tristan Roberts (undisclosed) and nickle back Andrew Taglianetti (groin). Defensive end Jabaal Sheard played only the first series before he was shut down as well.
"We were very vanilla today," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Dom DeCicco's hamstring tightened this morning so we held him, no big deal. We held Myles Caragein and then Romeus and then Tristan Roberts had a little collision this morning -- so when you are down four starters on defense, it limited us as far as what we could do from a nickle package and a dime package so we played a little more base defense than we had anticipated.
"Overall, I thought we were solid on defense. I don't think there were as many big plays as we would like with that first group but we were solid and didn't give up a touchdown."
Combine the lack of defensive starters and the fact that Wannstedt limited tailback Dion Lewis and wide receiver Jon Baldwin to just one series and it was tough for the first group to get much of anything done.
Wannstedt, however, insisted that if the Panthers were lining up to play Utah Saturday, all the players -- including Romeus -- would have had no problem.
"He would have played today," Wannstedt said. "Dom would have played, they all would have played."
One player who went down with an injury during the scrimmage was backup tailback Ray Graham, who was carted off with ice on his knee after a collision with Jarred Holley.
Graham stayed on the ground writhing in pain, though he did get up and attempt to the return to the huddle at the urging of his teammates. Wannstedt pulled the plug on his return, however, and he was sent to the locker room in a cart.
"Ray went back into the huddle but we jerked him out and took him in to put ice on it," Wannstedt said. "I don't know [how bad it is]. Hopefully it is nothing serious."
Wannstedt has talked a lot about several freshmen players but two have made a strong case that they shouldn't be redshirted.
"The two freshmen I would mention are Bryan Murphy -- we have to take a look and see if he can help us," Wannstedt said, "and K'Waun Williams has made plays every day he has been out here. I like what those two guys are doing."
Wannstedt said there are no freshmen on offense likely to get some playing time this year.
Another freshman who had an impressive day was defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who led the team in solo tackles (5), tackles for loss (3) and was third in total tackles (5). ... Wannstedt said sorting through the linebackers is becoming more difficult every day: "We have about five linebackers who are so close. They all do a little different in a good way and all have a little catchup to do in certain areas as well." ... Quarterback Tino Sunseri completed only 5 of 11 passes for 61 yards and was sacked twice. "The most important thing today was for us to start getting in and out of the huddle quickly and I thought we did a good job of that," he said. ... Backup Pat Bostick completed 9 of 15 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns.
First Published August 15, 2010 12:00 am