Football coach Chryst: Pitt could use some more time

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, April 13, 2012

Pitt coach Paul Chryst concluded his penultimate spring practice Thursday, overstocked with injured players and wanting — needing — more time to shape his team.

'It went too fast,' Chryst said of spring drills, which will end Saturday with the Blue-Gold scrimmage at North Hills` Martorelli Stadium. 'Achieve everything• Probably no, but it`s been good. I just wish we had more (time).'

Chryst is seeking depth on the offensive line, experience for his starting linebackers and offensive tackles and cohesion in the passing game — the areas that will need the most work when practice resumes in August. But some of what ails Pitt today will heal over the summer.

There are 10 injured players who have practiced sparingly or not at all this spring. They include six starters from a season ago: running back Ray Graham, receiver Mike Shanahan, guard Chris Jacobson, safety Jarred Holley, linebacker Todd Thomas and cornerback K`Waun Williams. Four others — linebacker Ejuan Price, defensive tackle Tyrone Ezell, receiver Ronald Jones and running back Malcolm Crockett — played significant snaps in 2011. All are expected to return sometime this season.

The bright spots include what looks like an embarrassment of riches at safety and developing depth at cornerback that excites coaches one day and distresses them the next. Pitt has four safeties — seniors Andrew Taglianetti and Holley, redshirt sophomore Ray Vinopal and redshirt junior Jason Hendricks — who have starting experience. Before transferring, Vinopal was a starter at Michigan for part of the 2010 season.

Who starts• Who sits• No one knows or cares at this point.

'That`s the great thing about having fall camp,' secondary coach Matt House said with a voice nearly hoarse after 14 days of prodding his players. 'We have smart kids, and we have guys who like to play. To me, that`s half the battle.'

At cornerback, sophomores Cullen Christian and Lloyd Carrington and redshirt freshman Lafayette Pitts are getting plenty of work while Williams recovers from a knee injury.

'There have been flashes where you get jacked up,' House said. 'And then there have been parts, just like anybody who learns and is new, (where) there are growing pains, ups and downs. Today wasn`t very good.'

Notes: Chryst and athletic director Steve Pederson spent time Wednesday with many of the students forced to evacuate their apartments due to the bomb threats. ... Chryst said he excused linebacker Dan Mason from practice so he could 'take care of some things.' He said the absence was not related to his knee injury.

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