PITTSBURGH — Pitt football has one final game in the 2019 season when they will play in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, on Dec. 26.
The time from Pitt’s final regular-season game against Boston College on Nov. 30 until the bowl game is crucial for getting more reps and practice time in for younger guys in their program.
The “15 extra practices” that bowl teams get are camp-like practices and a lot of the time the underclassmen use these practices to take a chunk out of the learning curve heading into the upcoming season.
With that additional practice time, Pitt’s veteran guys have been able to pay attention to the areas that the younger guys have improved on throughout the season and where they think they stand going into next year.
“You can see that they’re hungry and just want to play,” Senior linebacker Saleem Brightwell said. “Anytime they get a chance to get on the field, the practice field (it’s good to see).”
Brightwell was asked about what underclassmen at his position have impressed him during the bowl practice sessions:
“Voss (Sirvocea Dennis), he’s more molded (than Leslie Smith and Brandon George right now). … But all three of them, they are going to be really special players. Just watching them, seeing the little flashes and things that they bring to the team.”
Brightwell has also been impressed with players from other positions on the defensive side of the ball:
“Calijah Kancey (freshman defensive lineman), he’s going to be a monster. In the backend, I’d say Brandon Hill (freshman defensive back). He’s going to be a monster too.”
On the offensive side of the ball, senior receiver Maurice Ffrench has been focused on preparing for Eastern Michigan over the last few weeks. But knowing it’s his final game in a Pitt uniform has Ffrench jealous knowing that a lot of the receiving core will be returning for the second year in the Mark Whipple offense.
“I feel like they are going to be explosive next year, for sure,” Ffrench said. “We got a lot of young guys that know how to compete and know that their job is important out there on the field. So, I have a feeling that they are going to be way better than we did this year, next year.”
Ffrench on what younger guys he envisions stepping up next year:
“Jared (Wayne) stepped up this year, and he’ll understand to be more versatile and be used more within the offense next year. You have Shocky (Jaques-Louis), Taysir (Mack) is coming back.”
Junior captain Jimmy Morrissey on the progression from the underclassman on the offensive line:
“I’ll say about all of them. They play tough. But not one in particular. They are all playing well, and I’m excited for spring ball to see how they play then.”
The Panthers will lose 12 players to graduation this year who saw playing time.