March 18, 2007

Quarterback derby off to the races

The Pitt Panthers kicked off spring drills on Saturday morning. Practice started at 10 a.m., but Bill Stull, the junior vying for the starting quarterback job, was in at 7 a.m. watching film.

His competition, redshirt freshman Kevan Smith, was the last one off the field after practice. Regardless of who wins the starting quarterback spot, it appears the Panthers have two players who are willing to go beyond what is asked of them. Neither has started a game, yet both are doing everything in their power to get caught up.

"I came here at 7:30 this morning, and Billy was already in here watching film," Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said. "We'll demand a lot from them in practice, but they have to do it on their own when they're not required to be here, and they will."

While the most noticeable change in spring practice this year is the absence of Tyler Palko, it's hard to miss the fact that quarterbacks will be playing live this spring. If a defender is near, he is allowed to go and make a play on the quarterback. No more tapping, no more whistle-blowing.

This can be effective for both sides of the ball. It's speeding up the learning process for whoever wins the starting job, and it's also putting pressure on them as a way of speeding up the experience curve.

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