Pitt's offense comes out sharp in scrimmage
Pitt's offense wasted no time proving that Saturday's spring scrimmage wouldn't be typical.
The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the first 10 plays of yesterday's full-squad scrimmage on the South Side in an unusual display of offense for this time of year.
Tino Sunseri connected with Mike Cruz for an 11-yard touchdown pass that capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive against the first-team defense. Then, Pat Bostick hit Greg Cross over the middle for another 65-yard score against the second team.
Usually, the Pitt defense outperforms the offense in the spring. But coach Dave Wannstedt called this a "changing of the guard" on the Pitt D, and the offense took full advantage yesterday.
"The best thing we did on offense was both the first and second units played fairly clean," Wannstedt said. "You didn't see the ball on the ground, you didn't see any turnovers, there were very few penalties. When we play like that on offense, we're very tough to stop because of our balance."
Wannstedt praised both quarterbacks, who threw for a total of 251 yards and five touchdowns yesterday. Sunseri completed 13 of 18 passes for 129 yards and four scores, while Bostick was 10 of 14 for 122 yards and the touchdown to Cross.
Dion Lewis carried nine times for 64 yards, and Chris Burns netted 35 yards on 11 carries. Jason Douglas and Ray Graham combined for 53 more rushing yards on 24 carries, Graham with 22 on 11 and Douglas with 31 on 13, while Mike Shanahan and Jon Baldwin each had touchdown catches.
"If you can commit to the downhill running game, it's easy to work off of with the play-action," Sunseri said. "Whenever we can get those guys running and get (Baldwin), Mike Shanahan and Devin downfield, it's hard on the defense with all those weapons."
The defense had an even tougher time yesterday without starting left end Jabaal Sheard, who hurt a ligament in his wrist and will be limited while wearing a cast, Wannstedt said. Strong safety Dom DeCicco was also out with a foot injury, and right end Greg Romeus played sparingly.
For a defense that already lost five starters to graduation, Wannstedt said the unit is working through a change in leadership.
"Is the offense getting better• Sure they are. But we did not dominate and make enough plays by any means on defense," Wannstedt said. "Hopefully, today was a little wake-up call."
Wannstedt did complement tackle Tyrone Ezell, who led the defense with seven tackles — four for loss — and added a sack. Tackle Chas Alecxih had six stops, and linebackers Greg Williams and Dan Mason had six tackles apiece.
Conversely, Wannstedt said the biggest challenge is to solidify the offensive line, specifically the right guard position with Greg Gaskins, who also works at center behind Alex Karabin, and Ryan Turnley.