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Blue-Gold scrimmage to set tone for Pitt's summer

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 10:57 p.m.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst will herd his players onto buses Friday for the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage — the last of 15 spring practices. The game begins at 7 p.m. at Bethel Park High School.

He'll watch with a careful, critical eye to see if his players are starting to understand the playbook and how to execute its plays.

But an equally important part of the preseason will begin at the end of the semester when players gather on their own without coaches, according to NCAA regulations.

That's why Chryst and his staff spent most of Thursday preparing players for the summer.

“We are teaching them how to make it their program,” he said, “and I think they are getting there.

“We got a big chunk of time in the summer, and we have to make sure we use that to our advantage. They can watch film on their own, work out, throw. (Coaches) just can't be there.”

How players use their so-called free time in the next four months will go a long way to determining if Chryst will have enough capable players to build what he really needs in his second season: depth at every position.

“In the spring, you want to find out what guys you think can find a role,” he said. “That pool is pretty good. There is some depth, and we are going to need it.”

Some positions are better stocked than others. Rushel Shell's transfer depletes the depth at running back and makes it imperative that Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett remain healthy.

Meanwhile, the promising spring play of defensive linemen Shakir Soto, Darryl Render, Devin Cook, Jack Lippert and K.K. Mosley-Smith — none of them starters — offers hope for the fall.

Depth also will be helped in other areas by a few incoming freshmen, and Chryst sounded encouraged that some can help this season.

Chryst didn't identify any potential freshman contributors, but wide receiver Tyler Boyd and offensive lineman Dorian Johnson are likely to be two of them.

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