After coaching changes and injuries, Saddler set to lead Pitt receivers
No one doubts that coach Paul Chryst has a difficult job in trying to rebuild the Pitt football program.
But he already has achieved something two coaches before him couldn't. He has found a way to keep senior wide receiver Cam Saddler quiet.
It has become a simple matter of giving him a lot of work.
“The offense is a little complicated,” Saddler said after practice Tuesday. “It's kind of hard for me to run my mouth like usual. I have a lot of learning to do.”
The leadership role among Pitt's wide receivers was thrust upon Saddler this week, with veterans Mike Shanahan (hamstring) and Devin Street (knee) idled by injuries.
“I miss my big dog,” Saddler said of Shanahan, also a fifth-year senior.
But Saddler has little time for anything other than worrying about his assignments while he tries to unlearn what former coach Todd Graham taught him.
“Details,” said Saddler, when asked how Chryst's offense differs from last year's no-huddle attack. “Last year, it was, ‘Get to a spot and hope to get the ball.' Now you have to be in the right spot to get the ball.
“You have to hone in on the details — route depths, splits, little things. That's kind of the part I struggle with. I'm having a little trouble the first week and a half.”
Since arriving at Pitt from Gateway in 2008, Saddler, 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, has kept his sense of humor while dealing with adversity. He tore the ACL in his left knee during training camp of his freshman season, and last year, he suffered a season-ending fractured sternum on the longest reception of his career (40 yards) Oct. 26 against Connecticut.
This season, he finds himself battling for playing time with a long list of less-experienced receivers, including Brandon Ifill, Ronald Jones, Brendon Felder, Ed Tinker and Josh Brinson.
But Saddler's reliability has set him apart from others. He hasn't missed a snap since camp opened nine days ago.
“You appreciate the guys (practicing),” Chryst said.
Still, Saddler said he's “worn out.”
“I'm not going to lie. I'm tired,” he said. “But I'm having fun. I just love playing football. But I'll be happy when everyone gets healthier.”
Saddler reverted to some old habits Tuesday, chirping at freshman cornerback Jahmahl Pardner after making a tough catch against him.
“You can't play defense,” he shouted playfully at Pardner, before changing his story. “I don't think you can watch me. That's it.”
Mainly, Saddler has let his serious side show, pointing out that Chryst's way is helping him becoming a smarter player.
“Coach Chryst always says, ‘Try to understand the concept of the play.' If I can do that, I have a better chance of getting open. Now I have to notice little stuff. I am looking at coverages, seeing what leverages guys are playing. I have to pay a little bit more attention.
“No more fun and games. It's business. This is my fifth year.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s Wright excelling in classroom
- Panthers still clinging to hope entering home finale
- Pitt’s McConnell-Serio nominated for Naismith award
- Safety Vinopal, former teammates perform for NFL scouts at Pitt’s Pro Day
- Pitt’s weakness ‘pretty obvious’ to all
- Role change suiting Pitt’s Jones just fine
- At Pitt, a chance to make early impression under Narduzzi
- Defensive woes resurface for Pitt men’s basketball team
- Coach Narduzzi, Pitt piece together a small recruiting class
- Against Wake Forest, Pitt looks to reverse fortunes on road