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August 8, 2012

Get Back

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 8:50 am

There’s always that moment in the narrative of a football player returning from injury. When he takes that first hit, knows his injured limb/tendon/ligament/muscle can take it. When he clears that mental hurdle. There’s something to be said for that.

Still, with Ray Graham it should be more about being able to plant, cut, spin and move. This really is about knowing the physical possibilities. His replaced ACL in his right knee needs to be able to take the stress of that. Graham, his coaches and teammates need to see it. More than any hit, they need to see that happen.

It happened.

Graham, who participated in every drill today including the team periods, had one play where he planted his foot, made a cut and ran into the open field. As he turned around, he had a huge smile on his face, as if to say “I’m back.”

It was a big step forward from the way he played Monday as he didn’t participate in team drills and was a bit hesitant to make cuts and change direction.

That should be welcome news for Pitt fans as, when healthy, Graham is one of the best running backs in the country, and obviously a very important piece of the Panthers’ offensive puzzle.

After practice, Graham was all smiles and said that he felt a lot better than he did Monday and said he will continue to get stronger and more confident each day.

“I played with more confidence today, I went out there and just didn’t think about things,” Graham said. “The more I stretched, the better I felt and I just went out and played. The first day was a test day, just trying to see how I feel and I feel as though I am progressing as the days go on. And hopefully day three will be even better than day two. I just need to get better.

“I definitely felt a lot better, my knee is going to be sore after practice anyway. But when I made that move, I cut on my leg, it felt good. And I got tripped up earlier and I fell on it but it didn’t hurt at all.

“So this is a confidence thing, it is a mental thing and like I said every time, the more I don’t think about it and just do it, the better I will feel.”

It’s huge. I have no doubt there will be some days in camp where it will seem Graham takes a step back. The knee will hurt more on one day, and worries will flare. He is trying to get back to playing condition. He is trying to shake the rust off to regain the instincts and and knowledge of his body.

But it is a significant step forward. Something his coaches acknowledged, even as they did what they could to down play it.

Running back coach Desmond Robinson liked what he saw from Graham, but he will defer a final evaluation until later in camp. “It’s still early,” Robinson said. “I don’t want to say too much too soon.” Coach Paul Chryst appeared to like what he saw from Graham, but he was reluctant to get too excited. “He made a nice half-speed cut,” he said. Of Graham’s effort, he said: “It is gaining confidence in what you can do and knowing what you can do. If we can just keep moving forward, that will be good.”

Then there is the new toy in the sandbox. Rushel Shell.

During non-contact drills, Shell has caught the eye of running backs coach Desmond Robinson, a former Pitt linebacker who played on the 1976 national championship team with another Hopewell grad, Tony Dorsett. Robinson is understandably reluctant to make the inevitable comparison.

“I don’t know if it’s the same kind of player,” Robinson said. “I just know they are from the same (school) right now.”

After practice Tuesday, Robinson was asked to forget Shell’s past and judge the freshman back just on what he has shown in the first two days.

“I would be very impressed,” Robinson said, “because he understood the offense just in the short period of time we’ve given it to him, better than I expected.

“I would have been impressed no matter what kid it was. The other thing is he has the great work ethic and also he has the skills.”

Sounds like the entire package, but Robinson will wait before nominating Shell for All-American.

“He needs to just learn the full system, and we have to see how it looks like in pads,” he said. “We all look real good in shorts, the whole team we look better in shorts than we do in pads sometimes.”

The theme from the coaching staff does seem to be downplay the individual expectations. Not poor-mouth the kids or say they are not that good. Nor is it to downplay the team expectations or nitpick the problems. It is to keep perspective.

I will say, Shell already has his cliches down cold.

Shell said he knows plenty of expectations have been heaped on his shoulders but doesn’t feel more pressure than any other freshman. He said his focus is on improvement.

“I just have to come out and work hard every day and know that the guys, my teammates, are going to push me to get better every day,” Shell said. “I want to prove to coaches that they can trust me, that I am more mature than other kids my age. Now that I am here, it is all about football.

At the start of camp, at least,  Isaac Bennett has become the Jan Brady of the running back corps.





Oh, and I attended Pitt in the 90’s, and we dubbed that hideous thing on the side of the helmet “The Rabid Beaver.”

Comment by Digdug 08.10.12 @ 7:12 pm

I love Pitt. That’s my school. Pittsburgh is the city. I’m glad block Pitt is back on the helmets. Let’s do script Pitt for Homecoming and another big time game on TV. Throw us a bone Stevie.

Comment by TX Panther 08.10.12 @ 8:10 pm

None of us knows why Myers left it maybe he simply did not want to put forth the effort. It maybe that Graham’s last joke on us broke his back- to give a scholarship to Anderson who even played to the schools embarrasment and verified his competency level was H.S. (I do not not know him and if he can get a decree at tax payers expense more power to him). Fraud’s last kick in the ass . Perhaps that was what broke Myer’s it would break me.
Since Tino is a senior with 2 years experience a new coach who intends to run the ball would lean toward him over Myers even though Myers’s spring equalled to or surpassed Tino.

As for Myers not being qualified for a division I schloarship that’s nuts:High School: Lauded by Rivals as the top quarterback prospect in the state of Ohio following an exceptional senior year at St. Ignatius…arm strength earned national recognition by the scouting services…was rated No. 4 on Rivals’ “country’s strongest arm” list…named the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals…threw for 2,127 yards and 20 touchdowns with only eight interceptions during his final season at St. Ignatius…completed 54% of his passes (140 of 261)…selected first team All-Ohio Division I (largest classification)… Northeast Lakes District Co-Offensive Player of the Year…led St. Ignatius to an 11-1 record and the regional semifinals of the Ohio Division I playoffs…played under Coach Chuck Kyle…selected to play in USA Football’s “Team USA vs. The World” game, which matched USA Football’s 2010 Junior National team (45 of the country’s top high school seniors) against a world team comprised of 45 of the best players aged 19 and under from eight other countries…also selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…a letterman in basketball and track and field. Top Qb in Ohio no schlorlarship offers?
Now thanks to Fraud we have Tiny as a backup. Stay healthy Tino make us proud; turn left and right and hand off

Comment by DRW 08.10.12 @ 8:43 pm

DRW – enough of the Myers accolades.

He didn’t and doesn’t have what it takes to play at the D1 level.

Others knew that before PITT did.

Comment by Reed 08.10.12 @ 10:27 pm

TX Panther,Tossing Thabeets,and Emel, It dosen’t matter to me if its the Pitt script, the curved Pitt, or the straight Pitt, in block lettering, because I like all three. The important thing to,is that is part of our identity and our tradition. It’s part on the university’s athletic history, Pitt coach, Jock Southerland, Pitt over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Yes I,m glad Wanny brought it back.

Comment by Justinian 08.10.12 @ 10:30 pm

What i read to day is that tino is still missing the same throws he has missed for the last 3 years .
so he will not be asked to do mutch more then throw short. And some med but no long passes he still has no arm.
So what do we have a QB who cant pass and a QB
who is to short to see over the line men.
I sure hope chryst is a genius and that the RB
are great.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.10.12 @ 11:03 pm

FrankCan, He’s really the only guy who has any experience. Hoefully he’ll have a much better season. Now that Myers is gone, there will be no red shirt for Voytek. So he will be getting reps and we’ll see him on the field at sometime or other.

Comment by Justinian 08.10.12 @ 11:18 pm

Word is Savage is outplaying Tino. Too bad he can’t suit up this year 🙁

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 08.11.12 @ 12:13 am

If Trey Anderson as a Panther is an embarassment, what’s that say about your boy who got beat out by him twice?

Considering Wannstedt’s hisotry in evaluating QB’s, thinking that Todd Graham broke Myers’ is comical.

To paraphrase Reed, give it a rest….

Comment by originalether 08.11.12 @ 12:59 am

Now Boys, I see that you were not playing nice with DRW last night, if you don’t play nice, I’ll have to speak to your Mothers.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.12 @ 6:31 am

Steve1. Already ordered my case of makers mark. With Tino and the OL the way it is I’m not expecting anything but heartburn on Saturdays. Wish we had some more/better O-linmen, but that’s not the way it is, gonna be a long time till things get better. I was hoping for some good luck. The Pitt curse continues.

Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 08.11.12 @ 7:42 am

I see it starts already. Word is that Savage is outplaying Tino.

Well word had it 3 yeasr ago that Tino was outplaying Stull. The fact is that Savage is not outplaying Tino or any other QB because he is not taking meanngful snaps … all he is doing is looking good with his strong arm and great height (a la Myers) in passing drills. Remember, he wowed eveyone as a freshman at Rutgers but was beaten out the next year by 6′ Chas Dodd who was much less heralded who in turn was beat out by less hearlded Gary Nova (a one-time Pitt commit) last year.

And BTW, Kyle Bollar who could throw 60 yards from his knees and Raiders’ 1st round pick of about 6 years ago, JaMarcus Russell, are the two most most heralded QBs this millennium when it comes to arm strength …. BFD!

Haven’t we learned anything? Quit living and dying on every sentence you read about presaseason camp

Comment by wbb 08.11.12 @ 8:20 am

Emel,
While i love your posts, I was looking for a little more. Maybe a new posting? Where the hell is Reed? Thought he was “going up there”? Love the banter.

Anyone that is in front of or behind Tiny Tino will out play him.

Comment by Pitt Is IT 08.11.12 @ 10:02 am

Anyone Home?????

Comment by Marco 08.11.12 @ 11:15 am

Some interesting stuff in the Trib about Chryst and Tino :

link to triblive.com

Comment by Panther Pride 08.11.12 @ 11:21 am

just to stir the pot … guess who SI thinks may be a BCS sleeper (BTW, we were 6-7 last year, not 7-5)

link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Comment by wbb 08.11.12 @ 12:22 pm

Wbb they were both good college QB what they did as pros is not the point.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 12:34 pm

wbb- Checked out the referenced site expecting to find Gardner Web among the sleepers. Now that would have been a bold prediction.

Comment by dinosaur 71 08.11.12 @ 12:34 pm

We need a new post abought camp .

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 12:43 pm

My prediction…

Youngstown State W
Cincinnati W
Virginia Tech L
Gardner-Webb W
Syracuse W
Louisville L
Buffalo W
Temple W
Notre Dame L
Connecticut W
Rutgers L
South Florida L

7-5

Now my prediction if everything goes right (little luck)

Youngstown State W
Cincinnati W
Virginia Tech L
Gardner-Webb W
Syracuse W
Louisville L
Buffalo W
Temple W
Notre Dame L
Connecticut W
Rutgers W
South Florida W

9-3

Comment by Timmeh 08.11.12 @ 12:58 pm

Timmeh i think your 9 and 3 is most likley right
even with tino as QB becuse chryst can coach.

But it could be 10 and 2 i think we beat louisville.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 1:23 pm

A question: Is Brandon Sacco still with the team? He supposedly had his grades back on track and was saying that he looked forward to returning. ??????

Comment by isnore 08.11.12 @ 2:21 pm

I read on one of the Boards that he decided to leave the team. That’s all I have seen. So, he is apparently gone.

Comment by pitt1972 08.11.12 @ 2:24 pm

The last thing i saw he was switched to the d line

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 3:28 pm

here’s a story for you!

link to blogs.sites.post-gazette.com

Comment by wbb 08.11.12 @ 3:37 pm

Sacco is not on roster may be he was mad abought the switch to the D line but he was to small for OL only 265 pounds.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 3:59 pm

Thanks Paul for your work and your talents. May I add I truly hopeto cheer for your son, wearing the Blue and Gold at Heinz. Rev. George in Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 08.11.12 @ 4:02 pm

Paul Zeise is stepping away from covering Pitt since his son got the schollie offer from PC.

link to blogs.sites.post-gazette.com

Looks like it’s Sam Werner with some help from Ray Fittipaldo.

Comment by Panther Pride 08.11.12 @ 4:48 pm

my prediction baced on my ncaa 2013 on xbox, and benching tino is 13-0 and national champions, chryst pulling in a top 10 recruiting class. i can’t tell you how good it was to make tiny’s attributes accurate, which meant he was like 40 overall. no chance of seeing playtime there, too bad “if its in the game, its in the game”

Comment by pittisit37 08.11.12 @ 5:19 pm

Already ordered my case of makers mark. With Tino and the OL the way it is I’m not expecting anything but heartburn on Saturdays
Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 08.11.12 @ 7:42 am

Pittbulls, while I think bourbon is a fine option for watching Pitt football games, you need MUCH
MORE Proofage (might not be a word, but it is now) lol…. I say again: you need much more Proofage to watch Tiny play(don’t know if PLAY is the right word for what he does, but we’ll go with it).

Makers Mark is only 80 proof, I would recommend at least 100 proof (knob creek) or optimally a far greater proofage….just to play it safe. Say for example Baker’s at 107 proof or Rare Breed at 115 proof. Both should have you well oiled by Halftime, if you drink fast, end of the 1rst quarter!

And if you really want to make sure ur really inebriated, I highly recommend Bookers at 127 proof or thereabouts. In most games over the last 2 years, the Bookers option works best.

**This has been another in a series of PITT Service Announcements, on how to make games bearable to watch with Sir Tino at QB**

P.S. (watch the complete series on Youtube)

Comment by Emel 08.11.12 @ 6:10 pm

Comment by wbb 08.11.12 @ 6:24 pm

emel, i think i soiled myself.

Comment by Pitt Is IT 08.11.12 @ 6:56 pm

So…do you think that by Monday we may have some new posts on here?

Comment by Pitt Is IT 08.11.12 @ 7:00 pm

Thanks for the link WBB Good stuff. Sounds like we are all starved for camp updates. Could be Chryst is keeping expectations in check unlike the last guy. Like to hear from Reed though. Great stuff last year.

Sounds like the most important need is staying healthy.

Comment by gc 08.11.12 @ 7:57 pm

3 days with out a new post hope reed and chas are ok.
should we send out a search team may be they found some of EMels 127 proof bookers.
and knowing tino was are best chance to win said fuck it and got drunk cant blame them.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.11.12 @ 8:13 pm

Comment by wbb 08.11.12 @ 9:05 pm

Thanks for the link wbb.

Stars will win you a few games, but good defense will keep you in most games (unless your QB throws pick 6’s).

Our D key is staying healthy thru camp and building depth. Every team has some kind of injury attrition, but luck can play a role. Staying healthy thru camp is pure luck.
Once our season starts, a thin D line can rely on good LB’s and DB’s, but that don’t last forever.
On offense, I see a game plan designed to reduce the possibility of turnovers…called a running attack.
By comparison, it is easier to run block than pass block.
Finally, our kicking game must be superior if we have any hope of winning the BIG EASY. Kicks and coverage both.

Comment by SFPitt 08.11.12 @ 10:23 pm

From what I’ve heard this OL actually run blocks fairly well. Pass blocking is another story.

Not worried about the DL if no one gets hurt. Be nice if a couple highly touted players that are currently backups finally live to their billing.

I’ll go with 9-3 for the season. If I have to guess individual results, I’ll go with losses to Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Syracuse (just a hunch on that one). Should be enough for a BCS bid unless Syracuse really surprises.
Agree with whomever here though keeps saying one game at a time.

Reed posted here Friday night, within 2 hours of DRW. I’d wager he’s fine.
Chas, I’d lay even odds he’s been barred from the internet for the weekend.

Comment by originalether 08.12.12 @ 12:50 am

Hey i havent posted in a long time but thought this was funny, i am not sure if anyone has posted this .

link to youtube.com

Comment by FLPOLE 08.12.12 @ 2:29 am

Guys – I attended the scrimmage yesterday so I’ll have two posts up today.

Sorry about not getting anything posted sooner but I drove up & down same day (9 hrs) and was burn out when I got home…

Comment by Reed 08.12.12 @ 8:18 am

Emel,

appreciate the tasting report on the small batch bourbons. I was thinking starting with the new Makers Mark 86, very tasty. Lower proof for the early hotter part of the season. I’ve been a member of the Rare Breed Society for over a dozen yrs, the one thing about Rare Breed is some batches are amazing, even at high proof while some other are merely good/great. Have yet to try Bookers. Late season cooler weather, I will consider a good single malt, heavily peated. I expect Tino ball to extremely challenging so I’m stocking up now. And a public service announcement remember to drink irresponsibly when Tino is playing.

Disclaimer: when watching Tino and drinking irresponsibly, stay safely at home with friends, never drive or operate heavy machinery, or be in the presence of sharp objects or firearms, tasers, bats, etc. that could lead to injuring oneself or others in a fit of Tino frustration. Thank You.

Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 08.12.12 @ 8:48 am

Reed’s report confirms the impressions I have gotten from other print sources. There seems to be plenty of room for optimism and little room for pessimism–at least so far.

Given the description of Shell’s running style, maybe he will play some FB this year?

Comment by pitt1972 08.12.12 @ 7:31 pm

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