Pitt (finally) had its first scrimmage of training camp today. All told, the Panthers ran 141 plays from a variety of scenarios — regular 11-on-11, 3rd-and-short, red zone, goal-line and two-minute drill. For simplicities sake, the statistics I kept include all plays from regular 11-on-11, red zone and two-minute drill (basically, I omitted 3rd-and-short and goal-line, but we'll get to those later). Here are the stats (which may not be 100 percent accurate. Like I said, I kept them myself, so I tried my best but there is some guesswork involved) and some highlights and thoughts from the session...
Chad Voytik: 12 of 27, 203 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Trey Anderson: 15 of 27, 165 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Adam Bertke: 9 of 11, 101 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
James Conner: 8 carries, 25 yards
Rachid Ibrahim: 5 carries, 24 yards, 1 TD
Chris James: 10 carries, 36 yards
Qadree Ollison: 7 carries, 12 yards, 1 TD
Dennis Briggs: 4 carries, 10 yards
Jameel Poteat: 4 carries, 17 yards
Trey Anderson: 3 carries, 12 yards
Ronald Jones: 2 carries, 30 yards, 1 TD
Rachid Ibrahim: 5 rec, 116 yards, 1 TD
Chris Wuestner: 5 rec, 61 yards
Zach Challingsworth: 5 rec, 49 yards
Dontez Ford: 5 rec, 45 yards
Jaymar Parrish: 2 rec, 46 yards
Jester Weah: 2 rec, 31 yards
Tony Harper: 2 rec, 27 yards
Jameel Poteat: 2 rec, 21 yards
Ronald Jones: 2 rec, 16 yards
Jaquaun Davidson: 1 rec, 15 yards
Elijah Zeise: 1 rec, 14 yards
Brian O'Neill: 1 rec, 12 yards, 1 TD
Jordan Jones: 1 rec, 11 yards
Manasseh Garner: 1 rec, 6 yards
Dennis Briggs: 1 rec, -1 yards
Chris Blewitt: 4 FG made (33, 35, 30, 52); 4 FG missed (38, 35, 47, 48)
- First off, you're probably noticing a couple of names missing there that you would normally expect to see. Receiver Tyler Boyd was at practice and took part in individual drills early on (including a nice catch over Ryan Lewis and Jevonte Pitts). He didn't take part in any of the full-contact scrimmage sessions, though. Afterwards, Paul Chryst said it was just a "rest day" for Boyd (after initially joking "I forgot we had him"). It's probably just a case of Pitt being overly cautious with the most important player on their roster. Nothing would derail the season more than an injury to Boyd, so it makes sense to hold him out of most contact stuff.
Fellow receiver Adonis Jennings also didn't take part in the scrimmage, and Chryst said he was still dealing with some nagging injuries that cost him time earlier in training camp.
- Overall, I think the defense definitely "won" this scrimmage. The Panthers struggled to get big chunks on the ground, and the passing game didn't appear very crips either. Now, I think it's perfectly valid to attribute a lot of the struggles to Boyd's absence. When you take away a player of that magnitude, the overall quality is going to suffer. But Pitt can't be totally reliant on Boyd all season, and it didn't look like there was anyone on offense who stepped up to fill the void in his absence today.
As Chryst said at the end of practice, though, a loss for the offense is a win for the defense. While the takeaway isn't great on one side of the ball, the defense can be proud of its effort, particularly against the run, today.
"I thought they did a nice job there," Chryst said. "You look at that and I think you see some of the details offensively as to why were struggling. We've got to clean that up, but the bottom line is I thought the defense did a nice job, especially early in the scrimmage versus the run."
- As you can see in his numbers, Voytik looked OK at times but definitely missed his share of throws. His statistics are aided greatly by a 58-yard touchdown swing pass he threw to Rachid Ibrahim on the final play of practice. Take that attempt out, and he's 11 of 26 for 145 yards, no TDs and one INT. That's not great. The biggest thing Voytik has to work on is his accuracy when he's throwing the ball more than 10 yards downfield. There was one play today that stands out when he had Manasseh Garner wide open down the middle for the field, but overthrew the ball slightly and put it over the wrong shoulder so Garner couldn't make the catch. The deep ball will never be Voytik's specialty the way it was with Tom Savage, but he needs to at least be able to hit open guys down the field for this offense to be as explosive as it can be.
- Trenton Coles was out today with what defensive backs coach Troy Douglas called a minor ankle injury. In his place, both Reggie Mitchell and Avonte Maddox got reps at first-team cornerback opposite Lafayette Pitts. Both played pretty well, but Maddox made his presence felt with a pair of nice open-field tackles on running back James Conner (who has a good 85 pounds on him). At this point, I would have to say that duo might have a leg up on Coles for a starting job.
Maddox also came very close to making a big interception when he jumped a slant route on a pass from Trey Anderson to Jester Weah. The ball hit Maddox in the hands, but he couldn't come down with it to complete what could have been a pick-six.
- Darryl Render had a good day in the middle of the defensive line. In addition to keying the defense's overall good day, Render also, believe it or not, had an interception. He picked off Anderson on a shovel pass attempt and ran it back a good ways before Anderson finally brought him down (Anderson was riding on his back for a while there). Render had another sack earlier in the day on Voytik.
- Patrick Amara had the other interception, late in the practice. On the play right before Voytik hit Ibrahim for the long touchdown, Amara jumped up and picked off a pass from Voytik intended for J.P. Holtz.
- The offense, in general, had some issues with penalties today. They had two "illegal snap" penalties where the center moved the ball before the offense was set. One of these came in a two-minute drill situation, which particularly seemed to upset Chryst.
"Those are things that kill you," Chryst said. "We've got to iron that out. That part of it was ugly, I thought."
- As you can see from the stats, Chris Blewitt had a little bit of a rough day. He alternated makes and misses on his eight attempts. While the field goal from 52 yards out, you really can't be missing from inside 40.
- Here's a drive-by-drive breakdown, along with some of the situational work the team did today after the jump...
First drive (1st team offense vs. 1st team defense): This one started at the offense's 35 and Conner got the ball three times to start the drive, moving 12 yards. Voytik completed a bubble screen to Ronald Jones for 6 yards, and Conner went up the middle for one on 2nd-and-4. On 3rd-and-3, Voytik's pass was too high for Rachid Ibrahim, ending the series.
Second drive (2O vs. 2D): Anderson hit Challingsworth on a corner route for 25 yards on the first play to move the ball to the defense's side of the field. But then Qadree Ollison ran it up the middle twice for a yard twice. On 3rd-and-8, Dontez Ford dropped Anderson's pass on a comeback route.
Third drive (1O vs. 1D): Conner ran up the middle twice for a combined six yards, and Voytik couldn't escape pressure from Darryl Render on 3rd down.
Fourth drive (2O vs. 2D): Starting at the offense's 30, Anderson hit Ford for nine yards, and then Chris James took a handoff right for eight yards. James got the carry again on first down, and took it up the middle for three yards to the 50. Back-to-back Anderson incompletions ended the series, though.
Fifth drive (1O vs. 1D): The first team actually moved the ball a little bit on this series. Starting at their own 30-yard line, Voytik missed Garner on a playaction pass, but Ibrahim followed that up with a three-yard run to the left. On 3rd-and-7, Voytik stood tall under pressure and delivered a nicely placed pass to Ibrahim in the flat, and Ibrahim took it 18 yards for the first down. On the next two plays, Conner took it up the middle and both times he was taken down by Avonte Maddox (as I mentioned earlier). The two carries moved it six yards, and on third down, Voytik took advantage of a defensive breakdown and floated the ball to a wide-open Jaymar Parrish, who took it 29 yards. The drive stalled there, though, as James took one carry up the middle for no gain, and the next two passes from Voytik fell incomplete. Blewitt it a 33-yard field goal to end the drive.
Sixth drive (2O vs. 2D): Starting at the offense's 22, Ollison got two handoffs up the middle for a combined four yards. Anderson hit Challingsworth for 11 yards to convert the third down, but a false start on Carson Baker made it 1st-and-15 at the offense's 32-yard line. Briggs lost a yard on a nice tackle from Jeremiah Taleni. On 2nd-and-16, Anderson hit Jester Weah on a slant for 18 yards. Ollison took the next ball up the middle for three yards, and on 2nd-and-7 from the defense's 48, Alex Officer made a bad snap to Anderson and Rori Blair pounced on the fumble for the defense.
Seventh drive (1O vs. 1D): The defense was flagged for 12 men on the field on first down, then Chris James got two carries up the middle for a combined 4 yards. On 3rd-and-1, a swing pass from Voytik to Ibrahim was blown up when Anthony Gonzalez hit Ibrahim just as he was trying to make the catch.
Eighth drive (3O vs. 3D): The third team (mostly freshmen) finally got a chance here. They started at the offense's 35-yard line and Jameel Poteat got the first three carries for a combined 11 yards. On 1st-and-10 from the offense's 46, Bertke made a nice playaction pass to Elijah Zeise for 14 yards. The referees called holding on the offensive line on the play, but Chryst overruled it and the drive kept moving. Bertke's next two passes were incomplete, though, and on 3rd-and-10 he found Dennis Briggs for a loss of one.
The offenses then did a few third-and-short situations. For the first team, Ollison got three straight carries, all of which converted (and the last one went for 20-plus yards. When the second team came out, Justin Moody sacked Anderson on the first play, and Chris James was stuffed on the next two attempts. For the third team, Poteat took the first carry seven yards for the first down. Dontez Ford was flagged for a false start on the second attempt.
For the third team's third attempt, the coaches moved it back to 2nd-and-7 from the 50 and let the third team continue down the field. Bertke hit Weah for 13 yards on a slant, but Briggs dropped Bertke's pass on the next attempt. Bertke found Tony Harper for 16 yards on 2nd-and-10, and Poteat picked up some more yards on a six-yard run and 5-yard swing pass from Bertke to end the drive.
After third and short, the team moved to red zone drills, starting at the 20.
First drive (2O vs. 1D): Anderson's first-down pass was batted down at the line by Render, and Anderson scrambled for no gain on second down. On third down, he found Wuestner in the end zone, and it looked like Wuestner made the catch, but he lost it as he hit the ground. Blewitt's 38-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Second drive (1O vs. 2D): Ronald Jones took a receiver sweep right for 20 yards and the first touchdown of the day.
Third drive (1O vs. 2D): The first-team offense got to stay out there, and Ibrahim got back-to-back carries for nine and five yards to set up 1st-and-goal from the 6. He got a third straight carry here, and took it six yards, spinning over the goal line for a touchdown.
Fourth drive (2O vs. 1D): Officer's snap was fumbled, but Devon Edwards recovered for the offense. Briggs took it up the middle for five yards, but Anderson's deep pass for Challingsworth on third down fell incomplete. Blewitt's 35-yard field goal was good.
Fifth drive (1O vs. 2D): James got it up the middle for three yards, but two overthrows from Voytik ended the drive. Blewitt's 35-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
The team then went to goal-line work, with each drive starting at the 3-yard line
First attempt (2O vs. 1D): Two carries from Ollison got into the end zone.
Second attempt (1O vs. 2D): Chris James did a nice job picking his way through traffic and falling into the end zone for a touchdown.
Third attempt (1O vs. 2D): James got it again, and though it took him two tries this time, he got in the end zone again.
First drive (2O vs. 1D): Starting at the offense's 35, Anderson completed three straight passes to Wuestner for 16, 12 and 14 yards. On 1st-and-10 from the defense's 23, Anderson tried a deep pass to Ford that was incomplete, but drew a pass interference call on Maddox. On 1st-and-goal from the 7, Anderson threw an incomplete pass and an illegal snap penalty backed the offense up to 2nd-and-goal form the 13, Anderson's shovel pass inside was picked off by Render, who did a nice job taking it back with Anderson on his back half the way.
Second drive (1O vs. 2D): Starting at the offense's 35, Voytik hit a swing pass to Ibrahim for six yards, then found Wuestner on a slant for seven yards. His next pass to Wuestner was incomplete, but he hit Ibrahim on a swing for 10 yards. On 1st-and-10 from the defense's 42, Voytik hit Garner for his first catch of the day for six yards down the right sideline. He overthrew Wuestner on a miscommunication on 2nd down, but on 3rd-and-4 hit Ibrahim for 24 yards out of the backfield. On 1st-and-10 from the 12, though, Voytik threw three straight incompletions and the offense settled for Blewitt making a 30-yard field goal.
Third drive (2O vs. 1D): James carried up the middle for five yards, then no gain. Anderson hit Challingsworth right for seven yards, then Ford for six. He scrambled for five yards on second down, then found Ford again for 14 yards to set up 1st-and-goal at the 3. Anderson's playaction pass to Ollison was incomplete, but Ollison pounded it up the middle on the next two carries to get in the end zone
Fourth drive (2O vs. 2D): Anderson's attempted slant to Weah was almost picked off, but then he hit Ford for nine yards. His 3rd-and-1 pass to Briggs was too high, but the offense converted on 4th-and-1 on another pass from Anderson to Ford for seven yards. Anderson scrambled for seven yards then missed another swing pass to Briggs. On 3rd-and-3 from the defense's 40, Anderson hit Harper for 11 yards and spiked to stop the clock. He found Challingsworth for five yards on second down, but another illegal snap pushed the offense back again. On 3rd down, Anderson hit Challingsworth but only for one yard. Blewitt lined up a 47-yard field goal and missed, but a false start gave him another chance from 52, which he hit.
Fifth drive (1O vs. 2D): Voytik hit Jones for six yards, but his second-down pass was intercepted by Amara. He got one more chance, and on the final play of the scrimmage, Voytik hit Ibrahim in the right flat and the running back scampered 58 yards for the touchdown.
The practice ended with a final Blewitt field goal attempt from 48 yards, which went wide right.