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August 12, 2012

This morning we posted a scrimmage article about the offensive side of the ball, so let’s take a look at what when on with the defensive side.   My first  impression is this, we may not have a lot of experienced depth in the defensive 11 but our starters are going to be very talented.

I’ve had some real doubts about the staff moving Tyrone Ezell’s from DT to DE given his big size.  He’s 6’4” and 300 lbs and I wondered if he’d have the quicks and speed rush a good DE needs to have to get to the passer and set up containment.  Our two star DEs in the past years were much leaner with Greg Romeus being 6’6” and 270 lbs and Jabaal Sheard coming in at 6’4” and 260 lbs.  Those guys could get up and get out very quickly.

Forget about any problems you may think we have with Ezell on this score, he’s as quick as Aaron Donald out there and gets right into the QB’s face very fast.  He knocked down three passes today, two in the first series of the scrimmage and he came around off the backside to tackle RBs  like a flash.  He’s not a fat 300 pounds by any means and with his motor’s governor on overspeed he’s going to be very effective out there.

Our front four did well with Ezell, Donald, Bryan Murphy, who was splitting 1st team reps with T. J. Clemmings at the other DE spot, and with Jack Lippert, who played well at the second DT spot.  Lippert is battling K. K. Mosley-Smith for that position so Smith has to get healthy (thinner) and get right with the staff ASAP.  (I have to chuckle as I write this because of the strong opinions I expressed in the ‘Scrimmage 1-Offense’ post earlier today.  Hey, I predicted Jack Lippert was going to be our starting Center two years ago).

LaQuentin Smith went out early with an injury so I didn’t get a chance to see how he’d do at one of the DT spots after moving from LB to DE to DT in one year.  He gained 55 pounds since being recruited in 2011 so I supposed the least you could say is that he’s dedicated enough to drastically morph his body in a short time.

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Scrimmage #1 – Offense

Filed under: Football,Media,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 10:08 am

I attended PITT’s first training camp scrimmage today and, while no one told me it would be actually chilly in PGH this morning, I came away with a lot of things to discuss and to share my sometimes strong opinions of what I saw.  Here are some of my first, quick observations:

–        I walked over to the practice field behind Chris Jacobson and Matt Rotheram.  “Lumpy” Jacobson is listed this year at 6’2” and 295.  Rotheram literally made him look small by comparison.  He’s 6’6” and 330 and looks every bit of it.  I made it a point to watch Rotheram carefully at his Right Tackle position and he moves very well for a mid-sized mountain range.

–        Rushel Shell is surprising huge for a RB.  Not overly tall and listed at 6’0” & 215 (more like 225 I think) he’s built like a fullback and he carries a lot of weight below the waist so his legs are like tree trunks.  I was thinking I’d see a stereo-typical RB out there and I saw a tank.  On the other hand Ray Graham, who lists at 5’10 and 190 lbs isn’t anywhere near that weight in my opinion.  He is skin and lean muscle , bones and a hip goatee but don’t be fooled – he’s a small RB.  I wonder if the NFL has any RBs built as slightly as he is especially in the legs.

–        I stood next to Dorian Johnson for part of the scrimmage.  He’s a tall guy but nowhere near the bulk size of the existing PITT lineman.  He did stay for the whole three hour scrimmage and seemed to be having a good time talking with people.  At one point I ended up standing next to him and after a play where a DE knocked down a pass I said “We’ll there’s an open offensive line spot for next season“.

As to the offensive play on the field I felt the kids played well and were engaged in what they were asked to do.  It was a busy day with getting 183 plays done, in part thanks to the cool football weather, and there was no down time from 9:15 until 12:00 but I didn’t see any confusion out there.  The 1st and 2nd string kids got a lot of action while the 3rd team played sparingly today but did get a few series under their belts.

Everyone wants to know which side ‘won’ the scrimmage and usually, at this point in training camp, the defense is ahead of the offense.  It appeared that would be the case after the first few series.  However, the offense more than held their own this morning IMO.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  Tino Sunseri was accurate on his passes in hitting his receivers on both short and deep throws. Now, he’s been good in practice before so take it with a grain of salt.  I’ll say this though, he and the rest of the offense looked very comfortable out there running a normal huddle-up offense without the confusing bells and whistles we saw last season.  It is going to be a much better paced and more level offense fielded by PITT this season.

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