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Pitt Sights and Sounds: Offensive Strides and Defensive Emphasis At Camp



PITTSBURGH — It felt a bit more like fall on an overcast day down on the South Side Wednesday, and with the way 90 degree heat and heavy humidity have lingered over the last week, it’s certainly a welcome change ahead of the season.

It’s just under three weeks until Pitt will host West Virginia at Acrisure Stadium to open the 2022 season, and the work at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex continues to point to tangible growth offensively and defensively for Pat Narduzzi’s squad.

The quarterback competition resumed in full Wednesday as Kedon Slovis returned to full participant in practice. While it’s not as if the media is able to see the drills that actually pit the offense and defense in live, 11-on-11 action, through the drills Wednesday, it’s clear Slovis is a touch sharper than Patti.

Slovis throws a nice, catchable ball, and while neither quarterback was perfect, Slovis’s timing just appears to be a step ahead of Patti at this point. In working a variety of routes with the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, Slovis’s accuracy — which was lauded as a strength upon arriving from USC — is apparent.

Slovis is able to hit receivers in stride, showing nice velocity and touch on deep throws, and he’s able to lead receivers on crossing routes or balls along the goal line. Patti has also looked good throughout camp, but I’d say advantage Slovis.

If a ball hit someone’s hands and fell to the turf Wednesday, push-ups ensued. Vincent Davis and Che Nwabuko both cranked out a set of push-ups, but it was a morning of some nice work from the wide receivers.

Jared Wayne continues to not only lead the wide receiving corps not only with his words but his actions. Wayne is a model worker, running routes to offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.’s immense satisfaction and providing a clear example for the younger wide receivers in the room. One of those younger wide receivers is Jaden Bradley, and he continues to impress each and every practice. I expect a big season from Bradley.

Konata Mumpfield is also immensely impressive, showing great fluidity in every route he runs. I can’t say I’ve seen him drop a ball either, I’m sure he has, but I haven’t seen it.

Nwabuko, who rebounded well from his crossing route drop, is working into the system as Addison Copeland III did in the spring. He has all the speed in the world, but it will be an adjustment to get every aspect of his game up to the speed required to play at the college level.

Dayon Hayes continues to impress defensively. He’s a lean 275 pounds, and he moves like a guy 50 pounds lighter. John Morgan also looks sharp during camp, showing off just how deeply Pitt’s defensive line room runs. With Hayes, Morgan, Haba Baldonado and Deslin Alexandre on the edge, it’s a deep, talented unit.

It’s also clear that turnovers, racking up those takeaways, will continue to be an emphasis defensively during camp. The defensive backs are ripping balls away during drills, the defensive linemen come off the edge or over the top to make plays that don’t involve hauling the quarterback down. Timely takeaways are always nice to supplement timely sacks and tackles for loss.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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