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April 11, 2007

This time it’s Conredge Collins getting the love for the way he’s been running the ball and playing.

Pitt starting fullback Conredge Collins quietly has had as good of a spring as anybody on the team, but has not received much recognition because of the position he plays and the attention that is being paid to the tailbacks and quarterbacks.

His work, however, has not been overlooked by the coaching staff.

Now, if it was just Zeise pumping Collins, I’d take it with less than a grain of salt considering the man-crush he’s had for Collins. Gorman’s practice report blog post, though, also gives some love to Collins.

It was one of several impressive runs by Collins, who had his best practice of the spring after Wannstedt was critical of the Panthers’ running game.

Collins has had limited carries, but ran strong up the middle and to the outside against the first-team defense, which had trouble tackling him individually. On his next carry after running into Phillips, however, Collins saw Elijah Fields coming and slid to avoid a collision.

That’s the type of respect Fields already is commanding with his physical play. Even so, Porter made an impressive play by catching a pass over the middle, absorbing a hit from Fields and hanging onto the ball.

So, at the very least, Collins had a very good practice on top of a steady spring. Mike Phillips was injured trying to bring down Collins, but it seems Elijah Fields has everyone’s attention when he hits.

Other things kind of absorbed from the two reports on practice (not that you can’t read them yourselves):

Junior DT Gus Mustakas got lots of praise from Coach Wannstedt and the beat writers seem to be in agreement.

Senior OT Jeff Otah will probably be the anchor on the line.

Tyler Tkach is now playing more. Seems he was banged up early in spring practice.

Elijah Fields may keep Lowell Robinson off the field at the safety spot. Hmm. Maybe Fields is as good as suggested. Now, if he can just stay focused.

The beat writers are confused and annoyed they don’t have a handle on the starting QB job. Both use comments from OC Matt Cavanaugh to bolster their perceptions. Gorman is under the impression that it will be Stull or Smith — that Bostick will have no chance.

“He’s going to come in and get a chance to compete a little bit, but not being here in the spring is a setback for him,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s missing 15 practices and he’s going to start from square one when he gets here. He’s been here, been studying a little bit and watching practice, but there’s nothing like being under center.

“We’ll certainly take a look at him and see how he compares, but he’s going to be behind. I think these two guys are going to battle and, hopefully, one of them steps up and makes it an easy decision.”

Meanwhile, Zeise doesn’t seem to think Stull or Smith have done enough to merit anything at this point

Cavanaugh said that while both quarterbacks, Bill Stull and Kevan Smith, have made progress, neither is ready to take the starting job. “They are getting better, but I can’t get past the fact that both of them have a long way to go,” Cavanaugh said. “I’m not discouraged because they are improving, but I can’t project where they’ll be come the season.”

Guess we won’t know for sure for some time.

Gray Draft Watch

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 9:00 am

Unlike Chris Taft from a couple years ago, Aaron Gray’s draft status has remained relatively unchanged in over a year. He is still expected to be taken in the first round, somewhere in the 20s. For the NBA, he is a solid, unremarkable, serviceable big man. He will be a good back-up occasional starter for years. This is not a bad thing.

Hoopsworld.com has a good profile and explanation for his draft status.

He might be big, but size sometimes takes away from speed and explosiveness, which limits his ceiling on the defensive end of the floor in the NBA. Many scouting reports call his inability to block a ton of shots or rebound out of position his greatest weaknesses. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to try; it just means that he’s not particularly athletic.

But how many freakishly athletic true centers are really out there? Teams are always taking gambles in the draft, especially on big guys, and there are plenty of teams that could use a backup center (or even a starter) with a chance to put some points on the board, post up for a few easy ones, command a double-team, work some passes off the block. Gray can do those things, which is why you should expect to see him off the board in the first round of this June’s draft. He’s probably not a lottery pick, but he could fall somewhere in the 15-25 range, especially to teams like Detroit, Washington, and (why not) his home-state team, the Philadelphia 76ers, who if the season ended today would pick right around 18.

Sounds about right.

I had toyed with trying to go to the Blue-Gold game. Really. If for no other reason then a trip to the ‘Burgh and maybe a night out. The wife, however, has me on a variation of home detention this month. The good news, is I and others who can’t make it to Heinz Field can watch from the comfort of our own computer (hat tip to Pitt Panther Fans).

Pitt will be streaming the Blue-Gold game live via their All-Access/CSTV.com feature. This event, though, will be a freebie. They use the Windows Media Player stuff. The coverage starts at noon this Saturday.

According to spokespeople from Penn State, renewing the football rivalry isn’t going to happen anytime soon. PSU’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, has a story on the rivalry that made me sick, especially hearing what this Penn State spokesman says.

“Current discussions by the Big Ten regarding the possibility of adding another conference game to the football schedule would limit our ability to schedule out-of-conference games,” he wrote.

Yes, it must be very hard to schedule and fit in all of those games against the Florida International’s and Buffalo’s of the world.

MacCarthy also said an additional football game would be a financial burden.

Yeah, it’s a huge financial burden to have the stadiums full at both schools while local hotels and bars fill up for the weekend. Other than the big wigs at Penn State, everybody else wants to see these games happen.

Borghetti said it is a shame that students at both universities do not know the importance of the rivalry that he “knew and appreciated.”

Some Penn State students said they would like to see a Penn State versus Pittsburgh rivalry reinstated.

Penn State doesn’t even have a real rival right now. They play Michigan State every year for a stupid trophy, but a yearly trophy doesn’t make a game into a rivalry (see: Pitt vs. Cincinnati).

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