Pitt held its first scrimmage of training camp on Saturday morning, which saw both the offense and defense come up with significant plays.
As for offensive performances, it would be hard to top Isaac Bennett's performance. Bennett took the majority of the first-team reps at running back, and shined. Bennett finished with a pair of 30-yard runs.
Among some of the other big plays on the day for the offense; a 30-yard completion from Trey Anderson to Josh Brinson. Brinson went untouched until he got to the five yard-line. Anderson also connected with freshman tight end J.P. Holtz for a few nice completions, including a pair of 20-yarders. With the first group, Tino Sunseri also found Hubie Graham over the middle, for 20 yards.
Rushel Shell scored the first touchdown for the offense, a five-yard run. After Malcolm Crockett started off with the second-team offense, being held for minimal gains, Shell entered the scrimmage. He carried the ball three times on his first series, grinding it out, then pushed his way forward for the first score of the day. Crockett returned, and had a productive outing.
"I feel like I had an all right scrimmage," Crockett said. "I feel like I ran the ball hard. I gave it all I got. We have more scrimmages to go, so I'll just have to keep getting better.
For the defense, it was the defensive line coming up with big plays. Tyrone Ezell and Aaron Donald each had two passes batted down at the line. Ezell is making a case to be the starting defensive end.
"As a defense I thought we did pretty good, but as the coaches always say we still have a long way to go," Ezell added. "We have to get in there and watch this film and learn and see what it teaches us for when we go out here tomorrow or next week. We’ll have to just come out and correct the mistakes that we made.”
The defense also came up with its share of big hits. At the top of the list has to be Lafayette Pitts making a solid read on Ronald Jones. After Jones made the catch--a short gain of about two yards--Pitts was right there to greet him, where he delivered a punishing blow.
“I just made my reads,” Pitts said. “I just drove to the ball and the ball brought me to the man. It was pretty exciting. It was my biggest hit so far. I’ve probably had one better than that, but that was one of my biggest hits. Jones saw me coming; he knew I was there at least.”
Pitts also had a couple of pass deflections while covering Cameron Saddler in the end zone. He also came up in run support on another occasion, holding Isaac Bennett to no gain. He did a little of everything Saturday, and was one of the defense's overall stars. Still, Pitts was pretty humble about his performance, and knows he's still in a position battle. On special teams, Pitts returned a kickoff 50 yards before anyone could touch him. Returnmen were off-limits, in regards to tackling.
“I got a lot of work in this spring so now everything’s kind of clicking," Pitts said. "I’m seeing things so that I can move faster. We’ve got another week, and the competition is tight with me and Cullen Christian.”
Donald came up with a nice stick on Rushel Shell in the red zone. Bam Bradley also made a nice impression, delivering a hard shot to Shell on another run.
Aside from all the hits, Shell says he is used the the heavy workload from his high school numbers, and feels taking hits like that comes with the territory.
"I'm used to getting the ball 39 times a game," Shell added. "I guess you could say I'm pretty good with durability, but it's a lot different with this level because guys are a lot bigger and they hit you a lot harder."
The lone turnover of the day came at the very end as freshman corner Jahmahl Pardner picked off a Trey Anderson pass. It could have been coincidental, but the scrimmage ended on that note--at least ending on a high note for the defense.
Also scoring points for the offense were Tino Sunseri on a short scramble, Kevin Harper with field goals of 23 and 33. Bennett caught a short flip touchdown pass from Tino Sunseri. Sunseri, for the most part, had a decent day throwing the football. He had success finding Graham over the middle, and also hooked with with Devin Street for a couple of 20-yard pass plays. Still, Sunseri feels the offense needs some work.
“First and foremost, we’re not even concentrating on anything other than camp first," Sunseri said. "We’ve decided that camp is our first game, we want to beat camp. We want to make sure that we’re getting better each and every day. We want to make sure that we’re working as hard as we possibly can, and the next day, and the next day, and obviously towards the end of camp we want to make sure that we’ve won that."
An a lesser note, Mike Shanahan, Khaynin Mosley-Smith, Todd Thomas, and Ray Graham sat out the scrimmage. Graham took some preliminary snaps in warmups; taking them with the first-team. Pitt also lost defensive end T.J. Clemmings, linebacker Shane Gordon and defensive lineman LaQuentin Smith during the scrimmage. After the scrimmage, Paul Chryst said it was too early to determine the severity of the injuries.