A few items to get out of the browser tabs.
Spring practices are looming, Pitt’s gets underway on March 25. Auburn is already well underway for spring practice. USF was the first team to start spring practice in the Big East.
A couple things from ESPN.com. There’s a “primer” on spring practices.
What to watch
â€¢ As a true freshman last season, quarterback Pat Bostick earned the starting job out of necessity after Bill Stull fractured his thumb in the season opener, but Stull will be back this spring to push him. Junior college transfer Greg Cross, who joined the team in January, will also compete for the job, along with Kevan Smith, who started two games last season after Stull got hurt, but lost the job to Bostick.
â€¢ Both offensive tackle positions are wide open, and it will be tough to replace Jeff Otah and Mike McGlynn, both NFL prospects.
â€¢ Former defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, who directed the Panthers to the top overall defense in the Big East and the No. 5 ranking nationally, left after eight seasons to join the staff at Auburn. Can former SMU coach Phil Bennett maintain that success?
Ranking wise, I’m not sure Pitt will be #5 on defense. Consistency and overall balance, I think Pitt will be better.
A power ranking of teams in the Big East “based on what we know, and what we don’t.”
6. Pittsburgh Panthers
What we know: Two of the best players at their respective positions return in linebacker Scott McKillop, who led the country in tackles, and tailback LeSean McCoy, the leading freshman rusher in the country with 110.7 yards per game.
What we don’t know: The Panthers haven’t been an effective passing team because of the inexperience. Can this year’s quarterback change that, and who will it be?
How the Panthers can win the Big East: Find the balanced offense that was missing last year and play the same stingy defense.
Greg Romeus is listed among players expected to emerge. The QB spot should be the biggest battle for Pitt. Center Robb Houser
A CFN/FoxSports list of 25 players who will emerge from the “scout team” to impact players.
23. DE Myles Caragein, Pittsburgh: Caragein was born to play for Pitt, the type of blue-collar lineman that really gets Dave Wannstedt thinking nostalgic. An intense competitor and former wrestling champ in Pennsylvania, he’s got a non-stop motor and the size and power to move inside if asked. Caragein is an old-school Panther with the personality and work-ethic to be a big hit in the Steel City.
6. RB Shariff Harris, Pittsburgh: Obviously, LeSean McCoy is the franchise in Pittsburgh for the next few years, but it never hurts to have a complementary change-of-pace in the backfield. Harris flashes the potential to be that type of a back for the Panthers, a powerful, north-south runner that could have contributed last season if he was needed.
Finally, a profile piece on the sports psychologist who works with Pitt football.