Pitt gets serious with full pads, live hitting on Day 5 | TribLIVE.com

Pitt gets serious with full pads, live hitting on Day 5

Jerry DiPaola
Pitt defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman pressures Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, who threw an interception on the play Oct 25, 2018.

The fifth day of Pitt training camp Wednesday meant the team entered into a new phase of practice: They put on full pads.

“We have to teach them how to put their thigh boards in, their knee pads, butt pads, hip pads,” coach Pat Narduzzi said. “It’s always a challenge. We’ll probably be sending someone back to the locker room. Guaranteed, you’ll see someone straggling back here who doesn’t have their gear on (properly).”

Tuesday was an off day, but he said the tackling that was poor over the weekend improved Monday.

He called Tuesday a “much needed day off.”

“When I say much needed, it’s not like a two-week grind, but we got it worked out where we’re not going seven days in a row and then a day off,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure we pace it and keep these guys fresh.”

He said the live periods Wednesday with ball carriers hitting the ground were scheduled for the end of practice — without reporters present. But before that, there was what he called “thudding up and wrapping.”

On one pass from Jeff George Jr. to wide receiver Michael Smith, safety Paris Ford broke quickly on the ball. Smith held on, but Ford was pleased with his read.

Cornerback Jason Pinnock broke up a pass from Kenny Pickett, but Aaron Mathews caught a pass over him in the near corner of the end zone. Senior safety Damar Hamlin broke up a pass, but couldn’t secure it as he batted it into the air. He pounded the turf in frustration

“Today will be sloppy, defensively,” Narduzzi said of the first day of live hitting. “It always is. (Thursday) will be a little bit better.”

Narduzzi had praise for his first-team offensive line, with tackles Carter Warren and Nolan Ulizio, guards Bryce Hargrove and Gabe Houy and Jimmy Morrissey tying it together at center.

On the other side of the ball, Pitt needs only two starters each at defensive tackle, cornerback and safety, but Narduzzi said there are three who will get equal reps in practice.

“Jaylen Twyman has been impressive on the inside,” Narduzzi said of the sophomore defensive tackle.

He’s pushing veterans Keyshon Camp and Amir Watts for practice reps with the first team.

The situation is the same at safety with Hamlin, Ford and Jazzee Stocker and at cornerback with Jason Pinnock, Dane Jackson and Damarri Mathis.

At running back, it may be difficult for freshmen Daniel Carter and Vincent Davis to make an impression due to the presence of so many veterans. But Narduzzi saw a little something he liked.

“Vince right down on the goal line had a nice jump cut to the left, come up spin around, kind of a touchdown run,” he said. The words “kind of” refer to the limited physicality early in camp. “But it was impressive. Daniel has done some of the same things. The day before you noticed him.”

When he asked about the competition at wide receiver, Narduzzi didn’t seem as enthusiastic.

“I’m impressed with them, but now we have to get them the ball,” he said. “We’ll see where they are. Right now, they’re not where they need to be. How about that? Because last year (at this time) they were and it didn’t help.”

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Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
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