April 13, 2013

Spring Game: Savage and Voytik

Filed under: Uncategorized — Justin @ 4:20 pm

My friend Sean and myself headed over to the spring game yesterday not sure what to expect. We’re the odd types who are still optimistic but with spring games it’s really tough to judge things when a team is facing itself. Is something a good play by one or a bad play by another? I went into this with the intention of only looking at things I could say with certainty and the best way to do that is look at individual performances as opposed to overall impressions. Did the offense look better than the defense yesterday? Yes, but there are so many factors that go into that; I’m not willing to say the offense is better. If the offense was running complex plays and the defense was running a more vanilla setup, it makes a big difference.

I’ll start off with the thing everyone cares about the most: QB. I’m going to do 2 entries for the spring game: QBs and everyone else. I’ll start with the QBs today and get everything else done after watching the game on ESPN3 because it’s tough to see OL and DL play live.

Here are the stats Chris Peak posted for Savage and Voytik::

Savage: 6/11 80 yards

Voytik: 27/33 358 yards 3 TDs

Before those of you who haven’t seen anything about that yet freak out, don’t jump to conclusions. If Drew Carswell holds onto a red zone throw Savage’s stats look a lot better. Don’t let the stats deceive you. I don’t mean that to say Voytik didn’t look good, I mean to say Voytik didn’t look better than Savage if you focus on the how and why as opposed the result. A few notes I took on Savage:

-Perfect 3 step drop on throw to 82 (Garner). 20 yard dart for a 1st down.

-Great roll out on 4th down to the left in the red zone. Looks like Carswell should have had it, but great patience.

-Roll out to the right, kept eyes down field as pass rush came, threw away at the last second.

-Amazing zip to 88 (Weatherspoon) on 3rd and 11 for a first down.

Completion percentage (54.5%) correlates to accuracy, but that doesn’t mean he was off target; Savage was dead on. If you recall my article on his footwork, I immediately noticed an improvement. He wasn’t throwing flat footed, he was stepping into his throws. Even on the 3 step throw to Garner, it was 1-2-3 step up and throw. Quick feet like that will do him well even if the OL struggles. Virtually no pass rush we’ll face can get to a QB on a 3 step drop with a quick throw. A major difference between Savage and Voytik was the ability to throw in the pocket. While it’s easy to look calm when you can’t be hit, Savage was poised and kept his eyes downfield.

Another thing to consider with regards to playing time. Savage only played a little because the coaches are comfortable with him. Voytik played a lot because they wanted to give him the extra work. It’s not a negative for Voytik, it’s a positive for Savage.  Since Voytik was the star of the show, let me go over my notes for him.

-Good pump fake on a quick slant to 88 (Weatherspoon). Pumped inside then came back out, gave 88 enough time to get separation.

-Poor pocket presence, struggling to find passing lanes in the pocket.

-Great rollout pass to 82 (Garner)

-Pass to 83 (Orndoff) for 34 yard score. Incredible speed by 83 to score.

-Good moves by 88 (Weatherspoon) on Voytik rollout

-Touchdown catch by 83 (Orndoff) on 4th and goal from Voytik. WIDE OPEN, looked like zone coverage, 2 receivers, 1 defender in the area. Good find by Voytik. Defense likely schemed pass to the right (where he was throwing all night) and didn’t expect him to come back left.

-88 (Weatherspoon) got wide open deep, Voytik found him. Throw about 50 yards in the air, still a little short, 88 had to slow down.

The one thing I noticed with Voytik is that a lot of his throws came on rollouts; I’d put the amount somewhere between 30-50%. He looked great when he rolled out but struggled in the pocket. It’s a combination between height and experience. Any QB 6’2” or shorter will struggle to see over the line. The way you combat this is looking between your OL as opposed to over them. This is how QBs under 6’ like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson throw and why NFL teams prefer guys 6’3” and taller. The other advantage to rolling out is that it removes half of the field for the QB. He’s only looking to the side he rolls out on to throw as opposed to the entire field. With only half the field, it’s a lot easier to make the correct decision.

I think a lot of Voytik’s spring game was designed to build his confidence up. I’m not saying he’s lacking confidence or anything but I think the main goal for Voytik was to get him prepared should he need to play. Once summer practices begin, there’s heavy emphasis on starters and getting them prepared for Florida State. There won’t be a lot of time to focus on backups. In a bit more of a game-like format, they ran an offense that fit Voytik’s abilities and it worked really well.

Chapman and Anderson didn’t get a whole lot of work and to be frank, if either see the field this season we’re in trouble. Chapman definitely needs a redshirt year but you can see flashes of his talent, especially with his feet. He’s a heck of an athlete and has a good arm, just needs some comfort. Trey is Trey.

In conclusion, you can see why the coaches want Savage to start over Voytik. With Savage, they can run a more diverse offense. With Voytik’s struggles in the pocket, we are a bit more limited on offense. Add in Savage’s quick release and confidence and I see why he’s our best option to win this year. However, if Voytik has to play for a game or two due to an injury to Savage, we’ll be OK. We can scheme around his pocket issues with his mobility but it’s not something you can do for an entire season.

I mentioned this in one of the comments sections that I think Savage can pull off something great this season. I can’t explain it beyond “talented and desperate” but I just feel like we’re due. Maybe it’s time the universe finally pays us back for the years of struggles. I’m not saying we win the ACC or anything, but we finally have a season that doesn’t end in disappointment because of the QB position. I’ll post about the rest of the team tomorrow or tuesday (I have an NFL column due Monday for ScoutsNotebook).

I don’t have too many followers from Pitt fans on twitter yet, but most of my tweets are NFL related at the moment, but the more Pitt followers I get the more I’ll shift tweets in that direction. A lot of stuff will be NFL draft related since the 1st round is a week from Thursday.

Interesting observations indeed.

Going for 27 of 33 (an incredible 82%) for 360 yds and 3 TD’s. One has to wonder if he struggled in the pocket, what Chad will do when he does get the gist of seeing between the O-linemen and not over them.

Those are Drew Bree’s type numbers.

Also I think if the O-line struggles you would need a guy who can roll out and make plays.

As the O-line will be full of new starters (Roberts, Bisnowaty, and the other tackle spot)

Anyway it’s good to have this problem, something we didn’t have in the past, actual real competition I would assume, for the starting QB spot.

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 4:36 pm

If Chad learns how to look through the line as opposed to over it, he definitely can do great things here. The problem is in order to do that you, need a great OL. Notice how good the Seahawks and Saints are at pass blocking. They open the lanes and give them time. Russel Wilson held onto the ball longer than most other QBs in the NFL last year and his great OL was the big reason he was able to do that.

Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 4:50 pm

This post is infuriating. So what- Savage is so incredibly good that we don’t even need to see him do better than 6 for 11 in the spring game before we anoint him as our savior? Combined with the consistent reports from the beat writers that Savage has been very innacurrate, I am not convinced.

I’m baffled. Savage looks average and Voytik lights it up, but we’re supposed to shut up and praise the anointed one? I’m sorry, but I believe in the meritocracy. Let the best man win. If that’s Savage, great. But if its Voytik, it’s Voytik.

Comment by Dan35 04.13.13 @ 5:13 pm

Dan,,, right or wrong, apparently these scrimmages aren’t for the fans, but for the coaches.

Comment by wbb 04.13.13 @ 5:24 pm

I didn’t see any numbers (stats) for Chapman or Anderson.

Did they play, and if so….what did the stats look like ?

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 5:25 pm

Dan and EMel,

It’s the difference between looking at what as opposed to how and why. Voytik did look good yesterday, but it’s important to look at how he got those stats and why. If you saw the game, you’d see Voytik really struggled to throw in the pocket.

I’m also not anointing Savage as the savior. There’s no such thing. I think you’re reading more into my hunch on Savage. It’s just my trained eye seeing something by looking at more than practice results. To be blunt, outside of Chris Peak I have yet to see a knowledgeable report on Pitt from professional writers. What we’re seeing from the local “pros” leaves a lot to be desired.

Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 5:28 pm

I’m think Chryst probably believes he has to play Savage, as he brought him in as 5th year Senior.

And if he has intentions of doing that more in the future(twice now in 3 years with RW at Wisky), you can’t bring one in and then sit him.

I just with they would have brought someone(anyone) in last year !!

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 5:29 pm


Trey was 3/6 for 37 yards.
Chapman was 0/4.

I wish we had an option to add another QB last year, but the problem is there are only 2 routes: Juco transfer or 5th year senior who has graduated. With those limits, it’s tough to find an immediate upgrade, even over Tino.

Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 5:29 pm

Agree Justin

The local rag sheets have just awful Pitt coverage.
With the PG being the worst.

At least the Trib gives us lots of pics of Pitt athletes. And DePaulo is actually some sort of writer, Werner is a joke.

The PG had 1(count it one pic) of the Blue/Gold.

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 5:33 pm

Thanks Justin

And who is that u mentioned in the last line.

Never heard of him 🙂

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 5:34 pm

Every play was scripted last night – Savage was only going to take three series no matter what. Last night was to see if Voytik was a solid #2 QB going into summer training camp and he answered that question.

It will be in summer camp when the staff will concentrate on getting Voytik to be more proficient with calls, audibles, etc… where he has had problems with under the center and pre=snap up to this point. He hasn’t been able to read defenses well enough to grab full control out there.

As Justin said that’s really all that was for him last night and while PITT fans will want something different Savage is going into the season as the starter.

Spot on with Chapman – we’ll not see him in any way this year just like we wouldn’t have seen Voytik last year. Chapman isn’t ready to contend on many levels.

Comment by Reed 04.13.13 @ 5:35 pm

It’s odd to say, but even in limited action, you can see Chapman’s talent, especially on the scramble drill when he just started running like crazy in the fact of the pass rush. He has a lot of tools to work with and if he takes the year 1 to year 2 improvement Voytik took, Chad will have his hands full winning the job.

Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 5:38 pm

Savage, Gardner, Street, Bennett, Holtz, Orndoff… There is your offensive nucleus for 2013.

Told you guys Bennett can break the home runs… he’s more movement and speed than people give him credit for.

Gardner is the next receiving star at PITT. He gets open a on almost every play. He was burning up practices but really put on a show for the scrimmage. He has the speed to get under the Savage deep throws also. He’ll be great to watch in summer camp and this season.

I’m concerned about the WR’s downhill blocking though. It seems to be an afterthought with all but Wuestner who has his head on swivel looking to block someone. A lot of the Gardner/Weatherspoon YAC was due to Wuestner hustlin ass over and getting the the mix there.

My only concern was, and this is a true PITT fan speaking, if the defense might not be as good as advertised with a new DC and new systems in place. Voytik was sharp last night but there is no way he should have completed that many passes against our experienced back four.

Comment by Reed 04.13.13 @ 5:53 pm

Perhaps it was due to Jason Hendricks being out, he seems to be the QB of the defense.

And it didn’t help the D to have a true freshman at MLB.

Gordon needs to get healthy, which seems to be a real problem for him and the transfers.

As for Bennett, yea after watching his HS videos he has breakaway ability, something the kid from Hopewell didn’t. Desmond Brown also seems to have some ability being related to Antonio Brown of the Stillers.

Comment by EMel 04.13.13 @ 6:12 pm

It looked to me like the defense was going at 3/4 speed yesterday. Certainly the line was not putting pressure on Voytik, letting him escape the pocket.

I also think no one wanted to get injured in this practice. This is smart, getting stronger, faster, working on timing is much preferred over rehab.

I think the D will be fine barring injury to our few stars. Although we are deeper, we can’t lose Donald, Hendricks, Gordon, Pitts, or Thomas without a big drop.

Comment by gc 04.13.13 @ 6:22 pm

EMel – Caprara is a rsFR and a pretty good one. gc, I don’t think it would be a big problem for Caprara to start if Gordon can’t go. I know that the D Staff is very comfortable with him in there.

As to injuries the only one where I sat up and took any notice was Tyrique Jarrett. I wouldn’t be surprised if he usurps KK Smith on the interior.

Justin – interesting thing. Last summer camp I was telling people on here that Voytik’s arm wasn’t ready for D1 ball and I still believe that. Got a lot of pushback for it though. Now, after nine months of good QB coaching and S&C work his arm is much stronger and his passes crisper. That is why a QB needs to redshirt.

I’ll say the same thing about Chapman now. No matter how good his arm looked in HS with HS competition he’s nowhere near strong enough to beat D1 DBs and Safeties. That said… give him a redshirt year with Bollinger and the advantages mentioned above and we’ll see a different player out there next April.

It has always been pretty much a given that Savage was going to be the starter this year anyway. He was brought in for that reason IMO because Chryst knew what physical tools Savage had and saw in him a starting QB. Remember, not only wasn’t Voytik a Chryst recruit he was very shaky as a FR last year and Chryst knew he would need a couple years to be ready to start.

Of course, Voytik going 27/33 makes one wonder huh? (Not really…)

Comment by Reed 04.13.13 @ 6:51 pm

here is a link to highlight video of the spring game if people missed it.

link to

Comment by Pittscript 04.13.13 @ 8:00 pm

Reed, I know Caprara is a big time overacheiver, but I hope we don’t have to go with a redshirt frosh. I think the D staff maybe be putting their smiley faces on, because he might be all we got.

That being said, I hope he gots what it takes, because we have been short on inside linebacking since Scott McKillop.

I saw Jarrett limp off, he is a big man, I hope it is not serious.

Sunseri threw for a high percentage in the spring too. I don’t think we know anything till game time, other than there appears to be two stronger arms in town. (More accurate too.) But as WBB might agree, you can’t complete a pass from back side. Chryst’ O line will make these QB’s better or worse. The thing that Sunseri was best at was surviving a beat down. Maybe the toughest kid I have ever seen in that regards. We haven’t seen either of the new guys take a hit yet.

Comment by gc 04.13.13 @ 8:05 pm

your back side

Comment by gc 04.13.13 @ 8:06 pm

gc: it’s very possible the defense isn’t going full speed. I know on one play I saw Garner catch a pass and spin out of a tackle and expose his back. It’s a bad idea to do that because you will get lit up and probably fumble. The DB that hit him pretty much snuggled him the hit was so weak. There is the fear of hurting a teammate and that could easily cause some hesitancy that leads to offensive success.

Reed: I never saw Voytik in person last year but I’ll definitely take your word for it. He has a D1 arm now and I 100% agree that 99% of QBs need a redshirt year. It’s very possible the lack of a RS freshman year screwed up Bostick’s development.

Regarding Jarrett’s injury: he was on the trainer’s table with ice on his ankle. While obviously I know nothing about the extent, an ankle injury is much better than a knee because it’s pretty hard to really damage something there. Even a severe sprain would only knock him out for a month or so.

Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 9:35 pm

Thanks Justin. This is off-topic, but I’d like to say one thing that may seem really petty. Stop using ‘myself’ incorrectly. As a rule of thumb, only use it when you are doing something to…yourself; otherwise, use I or me, depending on whether it’s subjective or objective.

Comment by panther94 04.13.13 @ 10:39 pm

Btw, good analysis. Thanks!

Comment by panther94 04.13.13 @ 10:47 pm

panther94: I’ll stop mastu…using myself like that. I need to improve my writing style and word choice for sure, I know I have a problem with using “ings” too often as opposed to action verbs.

“Using myself like that” still sounds creepy.


Comment by Justin 04.13.13 @ 11:11 pm

The most striking element of the QB play was that both Savage and Voytik look like they are running on fast-forward speed after watching the last 3 years (5 if you count Stull who was certainly not fleet of foot).

Though no conclusions can be drawn about the O-line from the game, they have to be better (right?), any improvement combined with legit QB mobility should reduce the number of drive-crushing sacks.

Gardner is a beast. He and the TEs should really present some options, and keep opposing D’s from focusing on Street. Is it possible Pitt becomes a pass first offense this year? Guess it depends on how the Q’s progress…

Comment by Iron Duke 04.14.13 @ 9:15 am

Reed is right on, Caprara is a football player. He has a nose for the football, has his head screwed on right and loves to hit. So he is a RSFreshman, just means that we get to use him for four more years. So he is small for the position, Its the “fight in the dog” syndrome on that point. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 04.14.13 @ 9:21 am

If Voytik and Savage are even close to the same level how do you not start Voytik? But I’m sure Savage is going to start cause he’s a guy Chryst brought in.

Comment by Wardapalooza 04.14.13 @ 9:54 am

I was there for the second half (so I missed the big crowd and Savage) but Voytik’s arm was “meh” to be nice. The long pass was severly underthrown and only occured because the DL let up from absolutly decapitating Voytik which allowed the extended time for the deep ball to occur and developed.
His arm becomes average on roll outs. He could not make the out throw from the pocket.

Tinker really does a nice job catching with his hands away from his body.

Jarret needed assistance walking off the field it was an ankle.

Comment by Freebird 04.14.13 @ 11:45 am

Who is going to tell us what happened to Mason?

Comment by SFPitt 04.14.13 @ 3:42 pm

Just watched the highlight film. I sure hope these guys are playing 3/4 speed on D. Because if they play like during the season that we are screwed.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 04.15.13 @ 12:39 am

SFPitt, lets just say that it was an amicable split. I don’t know the exact reasons but I believe that the staff let him know that as a 5th year SR there were other things he should be doing at this point.

That injury he had last season was another serious one and he’s probably better off not playing football for his long-term health.

This isn’t a surprise really, especially given that we need to open up scholarships.

Comment by Reed 04.15.13 @ 5:38 am

Freebird – Voytik’s arm isn’t on Savage’s level but it’s going to be OK for this level of play and it really is much better than it was last year. Back then I really questioned whether or not he should have been recruited.

That long TD pass to Weatherspoon covered 55 yards in the air – from the release at the 30 yd line to the reception at the opposite 15 yard line. Not sure how much more you can ask a college QB to do. I think you need to watch the highlights again – Voytik hits Wuestner on two strongly and well thrown out patterns and made a nice completion to Zuk on the rollout.

Here it is so you can see his 1st half work also.

link to

Comment by Reed 04.15.13 @ 5:50 am

Tough to extrapolate much from Blue/Gold game as it appeared to be more of a half speed passing exhibition. Thats fine. Timing & reps are important. Potential @ skilled positions. Offensive & defensive lines will dictate PITT success. (That wind was cold!!) HTP

Comment by DC33 04.15.13 @ 10:14 am

Thanks for the info. That proves me wrong as I was a major supporter of Mason and thought he might prove to be valuable. But it seems as if he hastened his departure with some odd behavior.

Comment by SFPitt 04.15.13 @ 8:05 pm

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