14 spring practices have come and gone, and the solely occasion left this spring is the 2022 Blue-Gold Spring Game. The Blue and Gold groups will conflict at Heinz Discipline on Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m.
It’s a giant day for all these concerned, and whereas a few of Pitt’s starters gained’t see a lot enjoying time on Saturday, it’s look into a few of the place battles throughout the roster (quarterback, linebacker, cornerback) and the way the workforce has progressed this spring.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi stated that Pitt’s Thursday apply at the UPMC Rooney Sports activities Complicated Thursday was a stable day of apply, persevering with a development of principally good days this spring.
To Heinz Discipline We Go
As Pitt walks out of the locker room and onto the subject at Heinz Discipline Saturday, there will probably be fairly a number of new faces — gamers and coaches — making the rounds for the first time. And Narduzzi simply desires to maintain degree heads and do what must be carried out.
“It’s good for the young guys, it’s good for the coaches to see how we do it,” Narduzzi stated. “So, if there’s any adjustments we wanna make going into the fall camp, we can make those. It’s a little bit of both. If it’s a game, we’re gonna play it like a game.”
The 2022 Blue-Gold Spring Game is a crucial take a look at for everybody on Pitt’s roster, admittedly, some greater than others, however at the finish of the day, it’s about seeing what Pitt has, who has grown over the final month and a half of spring ball and — most significantly — getting by the recreation wholesome.
“Any time you go to Heinz Field, you just want to see the guys play sharp,” Narduzzi stated. “What are we gonna run on offense, what are we gonna run on defense? We’re gonna try to keep it pretty basic. But I want to see our guys execute. I don’t want to see a lot false starts or guys jumping offsides on defense. I just want to see a clean game.”
After Deslin Alexandre was damage throughout final season’s spring recreation, his coaching thrown off by the surprising wrench in his plans, Narduzzi doesn’t care what the rating at the finish of the recreation is, which workforce emerges victorious or anything. Can Pitt play clear soccer and are available away wholesome? That’s the aim.
Pre-Snap Penalties Should be Curbed
What’s one space that Pitt wants to wash up throughout the board earlier than a Week 1 recreation towards West Virginia in September? Pre-snap penalties.
“We have too many of them right now, too many of them, and I think that comes with a new offense,” Narduzzi stated. “Last year we went on 1 all the time, didn’t matter, just trying to snap the ball fast. We’ve got a lot of different cadences, so it’s a learning thing for our guys. It’s a focus thing. They’ll be much better in camp and we’ll work on it all summer because we found it is an issue right now.”
Certainly one of the keys for each Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti in the Spring Game, and all of Pitt’s quarterbacks, will probably be to steer the offense to a mistake-free day. Whether or not it’s turnovers or pre-snap infractions, that’s one thing that Narduzzi could have his eye on all Saturday.
Whereas Pitt’s offense beneath Frank Cignetti Jr. is twice as huge as the offense the previous three seasons beneath Mark Whipple, with implenting and integrating nonetheless underway, there’s going to be some hiccups. Narduzzi stated Kenny Pickett did job final season at the helm of Pitt’s offense, and the manner he would function the offense post-snap.
A Lot of New Faces Stepping Up All through the Spring
Pitt has new faces able to contribute at offensive line, tight finish, security, linebacker and extra in 2022, and Narduzzi pointed to just some names who’ve stood out all through the spring.
“There are just some players that you go, ‘OK, can play. That are going to help us this year.’ That’s the main thing,” Narduzzi stated. “Going into spring ball, you’re like, ‘Who is going to help us?’ I look around and Ryan Baer is going to help us this year. I don’t have any question. Jake Renda’s done some nice things, Khalil Anderson’s done some nice things, P.J. O’Brien is a lot better than he was. Bangally has come out of being just a kind of sometimes player to an every-down linebacker. Solomon DeShields, there were a lot of unknowns from him coming into spring ball, was he a wideout? Was he a linebacker? Is he tough enough to play on defense? We found he’s tough enough and gonna be a really good player for us on defense.”
Baer, a hulking early enrollee, has made waves as he’s figured into the battle to again up Carter Warren in 2022 — as a real freshman. Kamara and DeShields have compelled their manner into Pitt’s lineup this season, maybe rising as the two exterior linebacker starters getting into the WVU recreation.
Renda, after placing on 40 kilos over the final 12 months, is the No. 2 choice at tight finish behind Gavin Bartholomew. O’Brien and Anderson will issue into Pitt’s defensive secondary in 2022.
Pitt’s 2022 roster is loaded with high veterans, however there are a number of younger gamers who, whereas they could not begin in 2022, they’ll play key reserve roles earlier than getting into the beginning lineup down the line.
How Lengthy Will Slovis and Patti Play, and What’s Narduzzi Wanting For?
There’s no plan but on how lengthy Kedon Slovis (Blue workforce starter) and Nick Patti (Gold workforce starter) will play on Saturday. That call lies with the offensive coordinators on each groups, however Narduzzi expects round 20 or so snaps for each.
In fact, with the purple, no-contact jerseys on, Slovis and Patti won’t be dealing with severe stress — with Narduzzi able to throw his personal flags if defenders get inside the “halo” surrounding any of his quarterbacks — nevertheless it’ll be take a look at to see how each carry out with a mix of Pitt’s starters.
Whereas Narduzzi has remained tight-lipped when it’s come to even giving a touch to the quarterback battle this spring, he did define what he hopes to see from Slovis and Patti Saturday.
“Looking for them to make plays,” Narduzzi stated. “Lead the offense, first of all. Those pre-snap infractions, unforced errors, whatever you want to call them, start in the huddle. Getting your guys together and lead that huddle. And then going out there and making plays. We want to see the quarterbacks throw the ball and when they do throw it, accurately, put it where it’s easy to catch.”
Jordan Addison Continues to Win
With a deep extensive receiving corps and deep defensive backs room, Pitt battles on the boundaries throughout each apply. And whereas it might be a 50-50 battle between the receivers and corners, Narduzzi stated Addison wins. Quite a bit.
“Watching him is fun,” Narduzzi stated. “… There was a play Tuesday, two minute situation and the offense needed a touchdown, and Jordan Addison is double covered on a fade round. And my man just goes up in between both of them, times it right, snatched it and scored. About the five yard line. And both DBs just looked at each other … looking at each other like, ‘What just happened?’”
It appears there’s no restrict to only how good Addison will be in 2022. It doesn’t matter who’s at quarterback, Addison goes to feast.
A New Working Again
Justin Cullins, a walk-on working again, was drafted throughout Wednesday’s Spring Game draft, and it drew loud applause from all these in attendance. Nevertheless it additionally raised the query as to only who Cullins was.
“Justin is a walk-on running back,” Narduzzi stated. “Wish I could tell you where he’s from. He’s a great kid … I guess you guys saw him yesterday and said, ‘Who is this guy?’ He came in mid-ball, he tried out a couple of years ago, we tried him out two or three times and we had a need — we gad a couple running backs go down.”