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Pitt concludes spring drills

Pitt takes the marriage between its new coach and his players public for the first time today when the Panthers conduct their annual Blue-Gold scrimmage at North Hills` Martorelli Stadium.

Fans will watch the team practice and perform the basic fundamentals that have marked the previous 14 days of spring drills.

What happens beyond the prying eyes of fans and media, however, is coach Paul Chryst and his staff attempting to push their players beyond the team`s 6-7 record of a season ago. That interaction has been one of the most glaring differences between Chryst and his predecessor, Todd Graham.

Senior safety Andrew Taglianetti, entering his fifth-year season, likes what he has seen of the new coach.

'He is a guy who is charismatic. I think he`s smart and he knows football,' Taglianetti said.

Chryst, like most coaches, gathers his players around him and addresses them after every practice. He occasionally becomes loud and animated but never overstays his welcome.

'(His speeches) are a fraction of the time compared to last year,' Taglianetti said. 'He keeps it short and simple. He kind of gets right to the point, which is good for us. It`s not this overextended lecture about everything that goes on in your life. That`s kind of a knock on the previous regime.'

Taglianetti said many players were confused and unsure at the start of spring drills a month ago.

'Everyone`s head was everywhere, just because of the new system and getting adjusted to the practice,' he said.

'But now you can just feel everyone is more relaxed and a lot more confident, and I think it shows, and that`s huge going into fall camp.'

Chryst admits his team has a long way to go, but he won`t allow players to set limits on what they can accomplish.

'We don`t have a bar that says they need to get to this certain level,' he said. 'You just keep going.'

Notes: The format for the scrimmage will be offense-against-defense, with first-team units opposing each other at various times.• No score will be kept. ... There will be a youth clinic at 11:30 a.m., with players and staff instructing participants eighth grade and younger. ... Former Pitt players Torrie Cox, Kris Wilson and Lousaka Polite will host 'Dessert Tasting for a Cause' from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Larrimor`s, Downtown. Proceeds benefit the players` charity youth foundations. To purchase tickets, go to DessertTastingForACause.com .

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