Pitt had its only scheduled open scrimmage of 2013 training camp today. The Panthers ran over 80 live plays complete with full tackling and referees present. First things first, let's look at the stats...
Tom Savage: 5/7, 63 yds, TD
Chad Voytik: 14/20, 123 yds, 2 TD
Trey Anderson: 7/14, 144 yds, 2 TD
Malcolm Crockett: 13 car, 36 yds, 1 TD
James Conner: 9 car, 72 yds
Rachid Ibrahim: 6 car, 0 yds
Desmond Brown: 5 car, 62 yds
Chad Voytik: 2 car, 2 yds
Tyler Boyd: 1 car, 8 yds
Ronald Jones: 5 rec, 49 yds
Ed Tinker: 3 rec, 50 yds, TD
Kevin Weatherspoon: 3 rec, 29 yds
Tyler Boyd: 1 rec, 18 yds, TD
James Conner: 1 rec, -1 yd
Manasseh Garner: 5 rec, 56 yds, TD
Scott Orndoff: 2 rec, 9 yds
JP Holtz: 1 rec, 7 yds
Chris Wuestner: 2 rec, 16 yds, TD
Zach Challingsworth: 1 rec, 80 yds, TD
Jaymar Parrish: 2 rec 17 yds
- First, you'll probably notice that there are a couple of names missing. Isaac Bennett did not participate as he continues to nurse a knee injury. There was frequent rotation at the running back spot, but I would still say that Conner looks like he's the next guy in at this point. Also, Devin Street sat out of the scrimmage for what appeared to just be a normal rest day. On defense, Trenton Coles did not go either. Paul Chryst said he had to have something checked out before practice but that "We got better news than we could've gotten." So we'll see what that means for Coles' availability moving forward.
- Most notable depth chart movement today came from the coaches' decision to give Artie Rowell the first team reps at center ahead of redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts. The staff has raved about Rowell this spring, and a lot of people I've talked to have said that he has just been flat-out better than Roberts so far. That's by no means saying that Roberts can't rally over the next two weeks and claim the starting job, but just noting that it's definitely a position battle going on there.
- Redshirt senior Tom Savage only worked two series today before sitting out the rest of practice for what he called "precautionary" measures. He found freshman Tyler Boyd for an 18-yard touchdown pass over the middle on his first series and almost connected with Boyd for a score again on the second, with Boyd just missing getting a foot in bounds in the back of the end zone on an eight-yard pass.
- With Savage out, Chad Voytik got most of the reps with the first team. Last week, this may have caused a furor, but since Chryst named Savage the starter Wednesday, it was just a young guy getting his reps. Speaking to Voytik afterwards, he sounded disappointed, though not heartbroken about not getting the starting job.
"I was telling Tom, I'm honestly having the most fun I've ever had playing football," he said. "I'm starting to see things, I'm actually reading coverages. I know exactly what my guys are doing, I'm throwing the best I have. I'm just going out there each day having fun. It's starting to click for me."
- Watching the receivers today, it really is a shame for Pitt that Ronald Jones is suspended for the season. He looked quick and did a good job getting open in the scrimmage today. I think Pitt will end up being fine and receiver with Street, Boyd and the other guys mixed in there, but Jones would've given them a semi-proven option to mix in as well.
- Pitt used a traditional fullback more today than we've seen in the past, with both Mark Giubilato and Jaymar Parrish lining up at the position with the firs team. Until today, Pitt had been using both as more of an H-back type that splits out wide, but today both were in the backfield a good deal. As for Parrish, I don't think it's out of the question to think that he'll play this year. It will probably take an injury somewhere, but he has gotten a pretty heavy workload this second week of camp.
- Conner showed some good burst for a back of his size. He had runs of 34 and 15 yards, and added a couple more in situational drills before the scrimmage started. He's still more apt to run a guy over than make him miss, but he isn't a slow, plodding back by any means.
- Third-teamers Trey Anderson and Zach Challingsworth connected on the longest play of the day, an 80-yard touchdown bomb on 3rd-and-10.
- Before they started the pure scrimmage, they did a lot of live situational work (3rd-and-short, goal line, etc.). The highlight came when freshman Rachid Ibrahim ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run that included an absolutely devastating spin move to fake out safety Cullen Christian.
- Shane Gordon had a great stop of Conner on 3rd-and-goal from the one that evoked memories of his one play in the Notre Dame game last year, when a hobbling Gordon sprinted off the bench, basically on one leg, to blow up an Irish running play on the goal line in the first quarter and set the tone for the rest of the game.
- Freshman Ryan Winslow took all the punting reps today. Before you read too much into this, Chryst said before training camp started that Winslow was a candidate to redshirt, so this could just be an opportunity to get the freshman some work because they know what they have in redshirt senior Matt Yoklic. That said, Winslow looked very impressive in his chances today, routinely clocking hang times close to five seconds and placing the ball accurately.
- Speaking with offensive line coach Jim Hueber after practice today, it sounds like there's a chance Dorian Johnson could end up redshirting this year. Obviously, Johnson is immensely talented and has held his own in practice, but redshirt junior TJ Clemmings seems closer and closer every day to locking down that right tackle job. Johnson could probably play if he had to, but redshirting offensive linemen is always a good thing.
Redshirt senior Juantez Hollins has been serving as a swing guard at both right and left tackle and if Pitt stays healthy (a big if), they may not need Johnson this season.
"As we go along, if TJ keeps progressing the way he has and Dorian's not going to play, then your hope becomes if you get far enough into the season and he hasn't played any significant snaps where you're putting him in the game for real -- where he's got to take somebody's place -- then you have to make a decision if you can make it with three tackles for the rest of the year or you can swing somebody else out there, or someone that has eligibility, give them the time," Hueber said. "Our plan right now is to keep Dorian in the two-deep and prepare him to play."
- That's all for today. Pitt practice tomorrow and Sunday are closed, so we won't get to see the players again until Monday. I'll have a post up tomorrow with my first AP Top 25 ballot of the season, along with an explanation. As always, any questions are welcome on Twitter @SWernerPG. I'll leave you with Chryst's closing comments from today...