Morning, everybody. Yesterday was Pitt's final true two-a-day of the fall (they'll have a walkthrough at Heinz Field Thursday before the Fan Fest) and they practiced indoors last night.
- The star of last night's practice was definitely freshman quarterback Chad Voytik. Voytik showed why he was such a highly-coveted recruit with his most complete practice of training camp. He likely won't unseat Tino Sunseri as Pitt's starter this season, but it's promising to see nonetheless. Voytik had two nice 20-yard touchdown passes in particular to Kevin Weatherspoon and Cameron Saddler. To Weatherspoon, he dropped an outside pass right into the receiver's arms as he streaked into the endzone. To Saddler, he hit a perfect corner route for a touchdown. Voytik also showed off his mobility with a 20-yard scramble on one play when he was feeling pressure.
- Perhaps the best part of Voytik's performance was that, after he came on and looked so good, it pushed Sunseri to make some better throws, too. After a so-so showing in the skeleton drill, Sunseri had some nice passes in 11-on-11s. He threaded the needle for a nice touchdown pass to Drew Carswell and had a nice outside scoring pass to Ronald Jones. Of course, as is usually the case with Sunseri, he also threw a pretty bad interception to Dan Mason where he just flat-out didn't see the linebacker in coverage.
- Freshman running back Rushel Shell got his most extensive action of training camp, and actually showed something, as well. He had some nice carries near the goal line where he got yards after contact. In the open field, Shell just needs to get better with hitting his holes. At 6-foot, 215 pounds, he's too big to dance around behind the line. When he gets to the line quickly, he can make some plays. Shell spoke yesterday about the possibility of taking a redshirt this year, and I think that's still a definite possibility for him.
“At first I didn’t want to. I just wanted to get out here and play. But when I sat down and talked to some of my teammates, I realized that it’s a big process," Shell said. "If I got redshirted, it’d be one more year to get better, to get accustomed to the speed, to get a little plays down. So I wouldn’t be mad, but I’m still trying to compete to get out there now.”
If Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett are reliable, and Ray Graham comes back healthy, there's no need to waste a year of Shell's eligibility for a fourth-string RB. That said, Graham sat out last night's practice, as he usually has during two-a-days, and Bennett didn't see any playing time, but was in pads. Looks like he got dinged up in the morning session. Crockett still had some problems holding on to the ball, a recurring issue for him in training camp.
- Redshirt freshman Artie Rowell was back with the first team at center. Ryan Turnley was in pads, but sat out after practicing on and off in the morning. I would guess that Turnley is just a little banged up, since he was still in pads last night, but that'll be something to watch for today. Shane Johnson took the second-team spot at center, and stayed after practice working on his shotgun snaps with Voytik.
- I think I mentioned this a few days ago, but I expect to see Drew Carswell split out wide a lot this year. He's listed as a tight end, but his primary role will be as the pass-catched in two-tight end sets with Hubie Graham (or J.P. Holtz) at the other spot.
That's all for now. Team is back on the field at 2:45 today, so I'll be back with an practice report probably around 7 or so this evening.