Sights and Sounds from Pitt Practice: Finding a First Five
PITTSBURGH — Pitt is in the process of replacing four members of its starting offensive line from a year ago, as Alex Bookser, Connor Dintino, Mike Herndon and Stefano Millin have all graduated and moved on.
The Panthers have some experienced internal depth, as redshirt junior Bryce Hargrove started the final three games of 2018 at right guard after Dintino moved to center to replace the injured Jimmy Morrissey.
They also have some external depth with experience coming in, as Michigan graduate transfer Nolan Ulizio will get into the swing of things this summer at Pitt after spending his first four years with the Wolverines.
Hargrove, Morrissey and Ulizio seem to be locks for three of the five spots on Pitt’s offensive line in 2019, but the competition for the other two spots this spring has been real.
Redshirt junior Brandon Ford started out with the first team at left guard, but he’s been pushed by Chase Brown and others at that spot. At tackle, redshirt sophomores Jerry Drake and Gabe Houy were working with the first team, but Carter Warren has gotten recent praise from head coach Pat Narduzzi on his play, and could move to the front of that line.
There’s plenty of time between Thursday’s spring practice No. 10 and the season opener against Virginia for Pitt to figure out its starting five, but the line is a position where building continuity and togetherness is something that carries a greater importance that it does at other places on the field.
On Thursday, Pitt’s linemen were working on run blocking in tandem, and pass-blocking techniques that require passing blockers back and forth along the line.
In order to master techniques like those, it really helps to know which players will playing where in the fall.
Pitt continues to experiment with moving players to different positions this spring. After spending Tuesday’s practice at defensive end, Kaymar Mimes was back at tight end on Thursday, and there was one more player in that group, as Jim Medure moved back to that spot, at least for the day.
Medure has been working out at fullback for most of the spring. He played tight end last year in his first season playing offense, playing in all 14 games and hauling in three catches for 29 yards. He previously played linebacker and defensive end.
OUT OF THE BACKFIELD
V’Lique Carter has breakaway speed from the running back position, but the player that seems to be the favored target out of the backfield so far this spring has been Todd Sibley.
The redshirt sophomore running back was banged up a good bit last year, and has been battling with A.J. Davis for the starting role this spring. But while the players have been battling, it seems likely both will play a good bit, and Sibley’s pass-catching abilities could be a way he increases his share of the role.
Here are Pitt’s quarterbacks working with Sibley and Davis on short passing routes on Thursday:
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Check out the rest of the sights and sounds of Pitt’s spring practice No. 10 as the Panthers took things outside on the South Side: