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...