March 26, 2013

So… Yeah… Spring Football

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:03 am

I can’t say I’ve given it too much thought. Kind of wonder if that is what Coach Paul Chryst wanted when he set it up to be completely overlapping with the NCAA Tournament, and spreading it out over so many weeks. It’s been hard to glean much in the way of information.

There’s the basic roughing of what the 2-deep looks like. At the same time, most of that seemed to be in place before spring practice even began.

The O-line at least has more bodies. T.J. Clemmings seems to be making a very rapid transition to the O-line. He is even in line to be a starter at right tackle. That is either a great reflection on the effort he is putting into the move and the coaching he is receiving. Or it is a terrifying indictment of how thin the O-line remains in terms of talent.

…Or yes, it could be both. But where’s the fun in that. Don’t we all prefer to either believe the sky is falling or that its rainbows and unicorns for all.

One guy on the O-line that was expected to move into a starter role, Adam Bisnowaty, appears to be doing just that.

“He doesn’t get flustered,” Hueber said. “We’ll see, but right now you have to think that he’s going to get out there and play football the way we expect him to.”

Bisnowaty said sitting out a season and learning from graduated seniors Ryan Turnley and Chris Jacobson did him a lot of good.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I got stronger, gained weight. The redshirt year really helped me do that and focus on football and get my footwork down, so this year I can get some playing time.”

He shared a room with Jacobson, who taught him how to transition from high school.

“You’re the best when you’re in high school,” Bisnowaty said. “Now you get here and everyone is the best.”

Bisnowaty isn’t responsible for recent failures at Pitt, but he said it’s about time that changed.

“We have to start building this thing up to what we want and start winning,” he said. “We really don’t want any more 6-6 seasons.”

It’s been surprisingly quiet on the whole QB front. Tom Savage appears to be the lean at starter — as most expected — but he hasn’t exactly put any huge distance between himself and Chad Voytik. Not totally surprising, and likely to remain unsettled even after spring practices end. At the same time, the lack of angst over the issue is mildly surprising. I guess, everyone is still basking in the knowledge of who won’t be the starter this year.

Lots of questions about who will be the second (well, probably third after Tyler Boyd gets on campus in the summer) wide receiver after Devin Street. Doesn’t appear to be any clear separation. The good news is that there looks to be extra weapons at the hybrid TW/WR spot as Manasseh Garner is eligible after sitting last year.

Garner, who had to sit out last season because of the transfer, can line up next to the tackle and block, but also can flex wide and create mismatches against defensive backs.

“I think he’s a pretty good football player,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said.

“I think it’s our job to find a spot for him and then his job to be able to perform at that spot consistently, at a good level.”

Finding Garner’s niche in the offense shouldn’t be a problem for a coaching staff already well-acquainted with his skills.

Chryst served as the offensive coordinator during Garner’s two seasons at Wisconsin, and Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph was Garner’s position coach.

“It’s a blessing,” Garner said of the familiarity. “The coaches know me; they know what I can bring to the table. At the same time, I’m still out here competing with everybody else. I feel like there’s no favoritism in terms of them giving me a spot.”

Depending on how the O-line does, Savage or Voytik should have a couple very good safety valves to dump off passes when necessary to Garner and J.P. Holtz.

One thing to watch after the spring practices — and the semester ends. Some more attrition. In Chryst’s first year there were some transfers slowly trickling out. But, it should not be a huge surprise to see a few more after the spring. As other players decide they won’t get the playing time, and the coaches push the players they don’t feel are going to put in the effort.

“Every one of us is fortunate to be here,” Chryst told reporters after practice. “Fortunate to be part of this team, this program. Fortunate. And you better act like that.”

The remarks were his most pointed since Chryst replaced former coach Todd Graham 15 months ago. He made it clear he will not tolerate the kind of performances that have led Pitt to consecutive 6-7 seasons, and Thursday’s effort caused his frustration level to rise in the fifth day of spring drills.

“We were a consistently inconsistent team,” he said of the 2012 season. “And if you don’t come out every day with a purpose then you don’t get better. You either get better or you get worse, and everyone gets to choose.

“I didn’t think we had great energy to start (practice) with, and we are going to play until we have some energy.”

Asked if the players responded positively to his message, he said, “It took a long time.”

If nothing else, the stability of having the same coaches with the same offense for 2 years in a row should do wonders. Especially since almost all the players now will be playing the offense they were recruited for.

I can see Chryst designing a few plays to take advantage of Garner … maybe somewhat similar to how Dickerson was used back in 09.

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 7:33 am

Spring Game April 12th at Bethel Park HS. Anyone know the time?

Comment by Dan 72 03.26.13 @ 8:43 am

Horrah! A football thread.

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.26.13 @ 9:58 am

Glad there is competition at QB. Lack of
competition has been a huge problem. Team
must have an alternative. Competition for
playing time will make all involved better

Comment by JR 03.26.13 @ 10:19 am

The biggest job for this coaching staff in the Spring, IMO, will be instilling into the fabric of this team’s psyche a mindset that will breed success. It may be nothing more than just finding those who already possess the attitude of a winner and placing them in a position to succeed.

In any case, this team needs to find it’s leadership to get motivated in the right direction. Leadership has been lacking on this team in recent years, IMO. I feel that Chryst has previously demonstrated that he is not shy about sitting those who go astray of the program’s guidelines that the coaching staff has established, even if in the shortterm, it becomes detrimental to the team’s win-loss outcomes.

It really has to come from the players themselves, however if the needed discipline and effort is to breed succuss on the gridiron. It has to be SELF discipline and an internal effort to practice and play like a champion that needs to permeate from this team first, before we see the results, that we Panther fans all yearn for, to become a reality.

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.26.13 @ 10:19 am

Coverage of Spring football has been lacking in both the Post Gazette and Trib. Maybe now it’ll pick up?

On the other hand Pat Bostick has been doing a really good job over at Pitt’s LiveWire.

One observation that can be made from the limited coverage is that Rushel Shell actually looks a little lighter than when we last saw him in the fall.

If true, could be that he has come to realize that if he’s going to make an impact at tailback he’s got to be a little quicker than what he showed at the end of the season.

Regarding the move of TJ Clemmings to offense. The move wouldn’t have happened if Chryst and Co. didn’t think he had a real good chance to start. Seems to also reflect their possible lack of trust in Hollins.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.26.13 @ 11:02 am

@Dan 72 , according to this site, the spring game starts at 7:00. Apparently it is also being televised by ESPN 3!!!

Here is the site. Great schedule site. Eye friendly with nice helmet icons.

I pasted it for the Pitt 2013 schedule. If it goes to the home page, just look up Pitt’s 13 schedule, that is where that info is listed.

link to

Comment by Dan 03.26.13 @ 11:11 am

don’t know why “big east” is in the address above, they officially have Pitt as an ACC member now.

Comment by Dan 03.26.13 @ 11:13 am

p.s. my fault, it is on ESPN 3, that is their online network. Still, anyone should be able to watch if they’d like.

Comment by Dan 03.26.13 @ 11:15 am

After signing Dixon, does that show us fans that PITT is serious about WINNING? Are the 70’s and 80’s
level of player and coaching obtainable now in the ACC and with ACC money?

Comment by Tackle Made by Hugh 03.26.13 @ 1:38 pm

The questions are about football that is.

Comment by Tackle Made by Hugh 03.26.13 @ 1:40 pm

wbb – Totally agree that having the same staff is huge for this year. Look how long it took the D to come around last year.

ANother big factor, PC is not a rookie head coach any more. It had to be a huge adjustment for him last year.

I’ve been watching the Chryst interviews this spring on Live Wire. It may be just my perception but he seems much more serious, assertive and relaxed than last year.

Comment by notrocketscience 03.26.13 @ 2:21 pm

Being a head coach is the single most challanging position there is in sports. There is no way to learn the job except by actually doing it. Chryst is a very good teacher and therefore I would assume a good learner.

I am coming in for the Spring Game and I don’t care if it’s on ESPN. Anyone else here going? I dropped a pass in the Bethel Park End zone in HS and could probably find it in my sleep. By the way, my HS QB (2nd team of course)was Tom Hasbaugh who played a while for Pitt.

Comment by Dan 72 03.26.13 @ 2:35 pm

I’ll be at the spring game. Let’s hope we get some QB and RB play that is good.

Comment by rayhpgh 03.26.13 @ 2:57 pm

Anyone know if Spring game will have a Coach Q & A session or player clinic for kids? I can’t find anything about this game on Pitt’s website. Only the place and time.

Comment by Why me 03.26.13 @ 3:33 pm


We’re all big on “Hope” on here.

It’s a Pitt staple rayhpgh.

You gotta have hope…….

change too ! lol

Comment by EMel 03.26.13 @ 5:25 pm

Talkin practice in pg online. Says Schell missing with an excused absence. Little worried about that guy.

Comment by alcofan 03.26.13 @ 7:18 pm

A good teacher is a good learner who learned through the guidance of another good teacher or learned without help but found a way to do the job better and then shared that knowledge with others. Teachers are rarely experts at what they are teaching but know how to communicate what is necessary to make the student excel. Being an expert takes repeated practice, skill, hard work, and god given natural aptitude. Its often difficult for experts to share how things get done. Its easier for that person on the next rung down to teach and then let the student reach that next level if the students ceiling is high enough. I will judge the coach by how he uses and develops players. Jamie might learn a thing.

Comment by TX Panther 03.26.13 @ 7:24 pm

alcofan, me too, He’s going to be our stud running back and he doesn’t make it through the first scrimmage. Now excused from practice? Maybe nothing but…

Comment by gc 03.26.13 @ 7:56 pm

I heard that Schell is having academic issues. It’s pretty obvious how important Schell I to the offense. There is a huge drop off with Bennett if he is indeed the backup. This is really concerning with the running game the key to the offense.

Comment by DJS 03.26.13 @ 8:07 pm

l’m excited about the prospect of Bisnowaty at left tackle & T.J. Clemmings at right tackle. In addition to what Tom Savage,Tyler Boyd,Manessah Garner, Brendan Felder & freshman kicker Blewitt can bring to the offense ! Today’s USA TODAY edition has Christ the King ,NYC. Ranked #18 in the final rankings – Jon Severe scored 28 pts. In the state championship & 40 pts. In the semifinals !

Comment by ROCKY20 03.26.13 @ 9:09 pm

@Why Me – here’s the info – link to

Kids clinic before the scrimmage, coach and player session after the scrimmage

Comment by Pitt Dad 03.26.13 @ 9:10 pm

whoops, too much wine at seder – sorry Why Me – that was last year’s schedule

Comment by Pitt Dad 03.26.13 @ 9:11 pm

Just saw on twitter that Shell is supposedly transferring. That isn’t good at all.

Comment by Vulcan Rob 03.26.13 @ 11:00 pm

WTF???…I saw samething about shell……omg..not cool

Comment by Keith 03.26.13 @ 11:54 pm

Twitterverse is exploding about Shell leaving. One person tweets it and suddenly it’s a news story. Twitter is a joke. I’ll wait for the official announcement before I jump to any conclusions.

Comment by Panther Pride 03.27.13 @ 6:52 am

I am on board with Dr. Tom.
Getting the most out of players is entirely between the ears.
BTW…was in State College at Sandusky State. Ok, nice play no doubt and I won’t trash them, but the ice cream at the Creamery is nothing special.
Halo Pub in Princeton is special! The Creamery is ok , but I sure as hell would not wait in line for it.

Comment by SFPitt 03.27.13 @ 5:31 pm

[…] know, a day ago when I said this: “One thing to watch after the spring practices — and the semester ends. Some more […]

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