At the beginning of the season, Charley Molnar was hoping that he wouldn't have to rely on one of…
Nate Nix Leads Aggressive Pitt Defense
And for the record, the Panthers scored just one offensive touchdown, as the Blue Team whipped the Gold 62-24 with defensive scores for sacks and missed third-down conversions highlighting the scoring.
"It was a good conclusion for the spring camp, as far as the defense was concerned,'' Pitt sophomore middle linebacker Dan Mason said. "The scoreboard tells the truth on things like that, so I really don't have to say anything.
"But it was a real challenge to play against guys like Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin, and ... it's good preparation for the regular season.''
Lewis broke off a 52-yard run early and finished with 74 yards rushing on five attempts (14.8 average), while Baldwin caught four passes for 37 yards with a long one for just 11. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri was 9-for-17 for 82 yards. He was sacked once and ran for the only score from the 9.
"I thought that overall, today, defensively it was a solid performance,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "The defensive linemen (like) Ty Tkach, Nate Nix, Shayne Hale, Tyrone Ezell, guys in a backup role that we need to come in and play good, I thought they showed up today. I also thought our linebackers, as a group, the first and second group, played well.
"The one run that Dion had, they kind of lost containment, and he bounced it outside. For the most part on offense, we tried to get Jonathan and Dion the ball early until we took them out. And I thought they both made some plays. Tino was solid. The protection was a little bit of a concern from a standpoint that we knew he wouldn't have a whole lot of time to hold the football. We tried to do some things to try to keep the pressure off him.''
Defensive ends Nate Nix and Shayne Hale and weak-side linebacker Tristan Roberts led the way with six tackles each. Nix had three tackles behind the line with two sacks.
"I thought our D-line did a real good job today,'' fifth-year senior defensive end Greg Romeus said. "I know a lot was expected from us, but we can't think about that. So, I just wanted to come out and try to get better and help all the other guys get better, too. And I think we accomplished that.''
As Wannstedt noted, Pitt's second-team offense had the most difficulty with the second-team defense, especially up front where Hale and Nix dominated. Quarterback Pat Bostick completed just 6 of 13 passes for 59 yards, was sacked twice and picked off twice. Safety Kolby Gray and outside linebacker Manny Williams had the interceptions. Antwuan Reed had a blocked field goal.
However, place-kicker Dan Hutchins made two field goals, including one from 47 yards to go with a 40-yarder. And Kevin Harper nailed a 45-yarder.
"I was pleased with special teams, especially our field goals,'' Wannstedt said. "Under these conditions with wind and cold, for the most part we made the catches when we had the chance to make them. The only thing was the pressure from our second defensive line against the second-team offense.
'But our first group was good. (And) compared to last year (when) it was more of an offensive-minded spring game, but we changed up the format a little bit in terms of field position. There were two or three possessions where we were backed up.
"Once we had a third-and-four, and we also had a third-and-two and didn't convert either one of them,'' Wannstedt added. "That probably bothered me as much as anything from an offensive standpoint. ... We've got to convert those third downs and five yards or less.''
Antwuan Reed (defense) and Greg Cross (offense) were the Conway winners for most-improved players.
"It was a great achievement, but I just want to keep working hard and show improvement every day,'' Reed said. "I know I just have to keep watching film, work on my techniques and listening to the coaches, and I should keep getting better. So, that's what I'm trying to do.''
Notes: Pitt passed 38 times, including once by Cross on the opening play for the second group. ... The Panthers ran for 119 total yards on 38 attempts. ... The attendance was 6,532.
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