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August 18, 2010

No offensive rhythm in second scrimmage

Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt likes to say that defense always starts faster than offense in training camp.

If that's truly the case, then Wannstedt has to think his team is going backwards, as the Pitt offense scored seven touchdowns in its first scrimmage last Saturday but managed just one score in the second scrimmage of camp, which was held Wednesday afternoon.

"Offensively, we have to get in sync a little bit; we just aren't consistent enough right now," Wannstedt said after a scrimmage that saw his top running backs - Dion Lewis, Chris Burns, and Jason Douglas - combine for 86 yards on 31 carries, an average of 2.77 yards per carry.

All told, the first and second-team offenses combined to gain just eight first downs on 16 drives. Tino Sunseri completed 6-of-17 passes for 36 yards, while Pat Bostick completed 5-of-15 for 48 yards and one touchdown.

"The biggest disappointment was that, when you look our goals and objectives, it's to help the team win," offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said after the scrimmage. "I saw things out there today that could lose football games.

"I saw inefficiency in the run game, I saw inefficiency in the pass-protection, I saw inefficiency in the passing game, I saw turnovers, I saw penalties, I saw dropped balls; all of the things that we talk about, in terms of playing smart and minimizing mistakes, those mistakes showed up today."

According to Cignetti, the major hurdle for the offense - in addition to Lewis being limited to approximately 10 plays - was that the coaches wanted to see how the unit would operate outside of its normal comfort zone, that being the traditional two-back offense.

"What we wanted to find out today was, could we go out there in a one-back set with three wide receivers on the field and run the ball and pass the ball? I think the answer to that question today was that we weren't very effective.

"We know what we can do when Dion and Henry Hynoski are on the field, and that's not what you saw today. We need to find out what we can do outside of those guys."

And the findings of that exploration was that Pitt's offense struggled. The defense recorded five sacks and numerous quarterback hurries, and did so largely with pressure from the defensive line, as all five sacks came from the front four.

"We're still a work in progress, without question; we're not where we need to be," defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. "But today, assignment-wise we were good and I thought we really competed well, which was really good to see."

Bennett's defense played well enough to win, but Cignetti wouldn't say the same about his group.

"You really don't know until you watch the film, but I felt like we did not play well enough to help our team win today," Cignetti said. "In the long run, today's going to make us a better offense."

"As I told the players, I've been involved with a lot of teams that have been very good in one area - and you can win some games that way - but to have a chance to win a championship, you have to really be good as a team," Wannstedt said. "And we have a lot of work to do.

"It's obvious that we have some strengths, but we also have some areas of much-needed improvement. It's not one phase that wins you a championship, and these next four or five days of training camp are very, very important to us."




Notes

- Redshirt senior defensive end Greg Romeus did not participate in the scrimmage.

- Pitt's kickers connected on three-of-four field goal attempts. Redshirt senior Dan Hutchins made one field goal from 48 yards and one from 25 yards. Redshirt sophomore Kevin Harper connected from 47 yards but missed wide left from 44 yards.

- Redshirt freshman Ed Tinker was the leading receiver in the scrimmage with three receptions but just nine yards.

- Redshirt junior Max Gruder led all defenders with seven tackles. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Tyler Tkach had a scrimmage-high two sacks.

- While at least three defensive players had opportunities to make interceptions, freshman cornerback Brandon Ifill had the day's lone pick late in the scrimmage when he tipped an Anthony Gonzalez pass, batted it in the air, and then pulled the ball in.

- After a lackluster practice on Tuesday and a one-sided scrimmage on Wednesday, Wannstedt gave the players a bit of a break Wednesday night.

"We gave the players a night off from meetings tonight and we're going to give them an hour or two extra to sleep in tomorrow. This will be the first night that they haven't been here in the building until 9:30 since we started camp. I thought they could use a night away from the coaches, the coaches could use a night away from the players, and we'll get back at it tomorrow and take full advantage of these last four or five days of training camp."





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