It has been fifty years since Lyndon Baines Johnson managed to wrangle Congress into passing major civil rights legislation. Some historians ask why Obama hasn't had the same kind of influence on Capitol Hill.
Pitt took things outside for the first time this spring today. Given the harsh winter we've had in Pittsburgh this year, it was a welcome change. It was mostly individual work today, with scrimmages and team drills mostly reserved for Friday practices. Even then, I would expect things will be toned down a bit with both James Conner and Isaac Bennett out for the rest of the spring. Here are a few notes from today's session...
- It's getting to the point in spring where it's becoming less and less likely that guys being held out will get a chance to return. We already knew about Bennett and Conner, but I would also expect LaQuentin Smith, Reggie Green, Ejuan Price and Bam Bradley to be at least limited the rest of the way. Green was on crutches today, and the other guys were all just milling around in jerseys and no pads. None of the injuries, though, are serious enough that they're even doubtful for summer conditioning. It sounds like Pitt is just being overly cautious with most of these guys, not wanting to risk serious injury that could put them in doubt for the season.
- Offensive line coach Jim Hueber had probably the best quote of this spring after today's practice, regarding the current makeup of the roster (now almost entirely Paul Chryst recruits).
"When we came in here, there was a reason we got hired and it wasn't because this was utopia," Hueber said. "I think we fought through that. We had kids that didn't want to buy in to our way. You look around now, there's not much bitching and moaning, there's not many guys missing. We don't have the problems that we had before.
"How that pans out in wins and losses we'll only know as these recruiting classes get older."
That's a topic that has been talked about a lot over the last two years. Given the coaching turmoil in 2010-11, Pitt's roster was a hodgepodge of Wannstedt recruits, Graham recruits and Chryst recruits. Now, I don't think it's impossible for these three factions to coexist, but there were a number of guys on the roster in previous years who thought that this current iteration of Pitt football wasn't what they signed up for. Pretty much all of those guys are gone now, and that's what Hueber is referring to. All the guys Chryst recruited are obviously on board with this coaching staff's method and philosophy, and any seniors who were recruited by Wannstedt/Graham have stuck around long enough and have the right character to buy in to this staff, as well (Isaac Bennett comes to mind as a good example, but it really applies to everyone in those '10 and '11 recruiting classes).
Moreover, there's simply the roster depth aspect to it. This applies most importantly to Hueber's position, offensive line, because that's the area where it's really most important just to have bodies and experience, and you can't fix it with one (or, really, even two) good recruiting classes. Pitt has 11 offensive linemen on the roster now (nine of which are healthy) and will grow to 14 before the season starts. Even accounting for injuries, Hueber should be able to have two full groups of five offensive linemen for practices next fall, a luxury he hasn't had in his first two years at Pitt. That'll allow the older guys to rest and let the younger guys develop a little more cleanly because they're not worried about bouncing around just to fill personnel gaps.
- One of the questions lingering last season was whether or not Dorian Johnson would end up at guard or tackle. He played tackle at Belle Vernon, but had the potential to really do either. Through 12 spring practices, he has played every one at left guard, and is the pretty clear favorite to land that job on opening day.
"I think right now if you watch him, I think being in space creates some problems for him, just his body type," Hueber said. "I think when he's in a smaller area, he can use his strength. He's got to get used to the techniques inside because he didn't play there in high school."
- I've mentioned him before, but Tyrique Jarrett continued to get some pretty extensive work with the first team today. KK Mosley-Smith and Darryl Render are still the first guys out there, but it looks like Jarrett will have a role on the line this fall, and more defensive linemen that can help is only a good thing for Pitt.
- Chad Voytik has been a little up and down this spring, which is fine, for now, given that the opener is still five months away. He's working on some mechanical issues, and said spring has been eye-opening about all the different areas he can still improve by the fall.
"I learned a lot, but as you learn you kind of see how much more you have to learn," Voytik said. "I'm experiencing that. It's exciting because I see that room for improvement and now it's just time to do it. I'm excited for the process."
Voytik is in an interesting position this spring. It's pretty rare for a quarterback job to open up and not have any real competition for the vacant spot. Most times, there's a true competition or at least a charade of a competition (like Savage/Voytik last year). It's no secret that, barring injury, Voytik will be the starter against Delaware Aug. 30, and that's a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to his spring and offseason preparation. On the one hand, competition is always good. Even though Savage was the heavy favorite last offseason, he and Voytik could push each other for playing time. If one guy sees his competition for the starting job doing well, that's going to make him work harder to try and beat him. On the other hand, the lack of competition has its benefits for Voytik because it means he can take the spring and summer working on mechanical details in his game (he talked earlier this spring about adjusting his stride and foot placement) without having to worry about impressing the coaches to earn the starting gig. You can go either way on this idea, but it's just something to think about.
- Pitt spent some time today working on option drills with the quarterbacks and running backs (since it was non-contact, even Bennett was involved). With Chad Voytik running the show, this will obviously be an area to watch in 2014. I don't think Chryst will go crazy with it, but he did effectively use Russell Wilson's mobility during one year at Wisconsin, so it will definitely have its place in the offense.
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Actress Katherine Heigl is suing pharmacy chain Duane Reade over a tweet.
Heigl was photographed in New York City carrying two Duane Reade shopping bags, and on March 18, the company tweeted the picture with the caption, "Love a quick Duane Reade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping NYC's favorite drugstore."
The lawsuit argues that the tweet is a violation of the Lanham Act, which protects celebrities from deceptive advertising that makes it look like a famous person is endorsing a product.
Heigl is seeking $6 million in damages, according to the Associated Press.
What do you think-- is Heigl protecting her image or overreacting? As you might imagine, everyone on Twitter has an opinion.
Screen shot of the tweet (which Duane Reade has deleted from its account):
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With the days lasting longer, it's a good time to use the extra hours of sunshine (and the warmer nights) to do some shopping.
In Lawrenceville, there are plenty of chances to do just that during the monthly Shop Late Night in Lawrenceville events. Each month on the second Thursday, shops will stay open until 9 p.m. and will offer special deals, food, refreshments and fun.
The first late night is this evening. And with temperatures expected to reach the low 70s, it sounds like a good night to shop 'til the sun don't shine!