Birmingham Dispatches, Day One

Written by Sam Werner on .

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Greetings from The Magic City, sometimes known as Birmingham. Pitt got in yesterday morning, and had its second practice down here this morning. Make sure to check the print edition and our website for all the latest. Here are a couple of notes and quotes from the post-practice media session...

- The big news is that right guard Arthur Doakes did not make the trip to Birmingham and is suspended for the game. His availability beyond that is unclear, but I'm hearing there's at least a chance the suspension could be extended beyond just this one game.
Redshirt sophomore Shane Johnson is listed as Doakes' backup on the official depth chart, but those things usually aren't worth the paper they're printed on. We'll get more from Paul Chryst as the week goes on for the plan without Doakes.

- Rushel Shell is coming down to Birmingham, about an hour away from where he could have ended up playing his college football. Shell chose Pitt over Alabama during his senior year of high school. He said he never made any visits to Tuscaloosa during the recruiting process, though, and actually had his mind made up early in the process.
"Honestly, I had my school picked out before all the recruiting process," Shell said. "I guess it’s neat, but it’s nothing too impressive."

- While these practices down here will certainly help Pitt for the game Saturday, most of the serious legwork was done back up in Pittsburgh. The gameplan was installed there and these practices are mostly just keeping fresh and up to date. With all the other stuff going on during a bowl week, coaches want to get as much work done as possible before they get to the bowl site.
"You want to get the whole gameplan in up in Pittsburgh, then just repeating it and running through it," Chryst said. "You want to be as sharp as you can. We’ve had two good, spirited practices. I’ve liked the way guys have approached things so far.

- Wide receiver Mike Shanahan said his post-Birmingham plans include a trip to the Casino Del Sol Bowl in Tuscon, Ariz. Chris Jacobson will also be playing in that game. Tino Sunseri will play in the Raycom All-Star Classic, and Ryan Turnley and Ray Graham will play in the East-West Shrine game. Those are all the postseason all-star games for Pitt seniors that we know so far.

- It's been a little chilly down here in Alabama, hovering in the 50s during the day but dropping down to the 30s at night. Might be a slight edge for Pitt, used to playing in colder weather, against an SEC team.
"We’re used to this type of weather," Shell said. "It’s still cold, but we’ll be fine."

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