Here are notes from this morning's practice, at least from the portion that media members were allowed to watch:
** One day after being given his shot to return kicks, Buddy Jackson gave coaches reason to think that it might be a good move. Jackson took the first kick-off of today's scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown. In the process he made a nice move to get free after he fielded it, then shed a tackler (which is something he needs to prove he can do - be a physical player) and then got into the open field and it was off to the races. He has speed, obviously, but if he can continue to show he can run through tackles, he has a real chance.
** Chris Jacobson had a rough day snapping the ball but that's to be expected. Coaches have been happy with his progress, but let's face it, if it were that easy to do consistently everybody would do it. He is very good, though, at knocking people around and he is athletic, so if he can get the snap down, he has a chance to be very good.
** Every spring - because so many key players are sitting out and so many other key players are given time off for precautionary reasons - produces a "superstar" who proceeds to never see the field in the fall. This spring it is shaping up to be Desmond Brown, who is getting a lot of reps because, well, there is nobody else to give the ball to right now. Ray Graham is the only scholarship tailback on the roster and the coaches know he is extremely important to the offense's sucess so they've been cautious with him. But give Brown, who is the younger brother of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, a lot of credit - he is making the most of his opportunities as he has really done some good things running the football and catching it out of the backfield. Again, I'm not making more of it than what it is -- a walk-on guy who is a longshot to play but is having a good spring.
** There are two major changes for Pitt's quarterbacks under this system - besides the tempo and all that "explosive high octane" stuff - 1) They will be almost exclusively in the shotgun and thus will need to adjust to catching a snap every play and 2) the read-option plays will ask them to run the ball more. Tino Sunseri talked at length about both aspects of it today and said they both will require some adjustments - especially the shotgun snaps because he isn't used to having to locate the ball in the air and catch it before he drops or hands off or whatever he is going to do.But that is why Todd Graham is always preaching to the centers about getting the snap perfect every play because it not only helps the quarterbacks, it ensures the timing of the offense is perfect.
** Matt Yoklic is a walk-on who is having a good spring but unlike Brown, he will get on the field in the fall and in fact, will likely be a starter. Of course, Yoklic, who is from Pine-Richland, is a punter and boy can he can boom the ball. We noticed him last year at the start of practices when all the kickers and punters were out on the field warming up. He wasn't consistent, but he could absolutely destroy the ball when he kicked it right. He could become a very good punter if he develops consistency and according to some of the coaches, he is doing just that.
** I don't know where he'll fit in once Brandon Lindsey returns, but Bryan Murphy is as good as anyone in camp right now. He is really playing at a high level right now. I like his tenacity, how physical he is and how smart of a player he is. He really does make a lot of plays and he did last year as well. I thought he could have played more than he did last year. He is one of those guys recruited by Dave Wannstedt that has really exceeded the hype about him so far.
** One other guy who had a great day today, well, at least from what we could tell, is tight end Brendan Carozzoni. He had two really good catches today, some good runs after the catch and made some nice blocks. Of course, Carozzoni is on the field today because both Brock DeCicco and Hubie Graham are sidelined with injuries right now. Still, it will be interesting to see how this position shakes out. I think Graham will be the starter and should have a big year but how the depth chart shakes out after him will be interesting to see.