PITTSBURGH — A spirited breakdown from Elliot Donald to conclude warmups this morning earned quite a few cheers, and it’s clear from the tone of the message, that it’s time for a step up.
After last season’s ACC championship, Pitt is aiming higher. Pitt broke it down last season on winning an ACC championship. Donald broke it down Thursday on winning the national championship.
Wednesday marked the start of an important stretch for Pitt, with a weekend scrimmage — perhaps the most important point of camp — coming up. Thursday’s practice was certainly spirited, but there wasn’t as much intensity in the air as there has been on previous practice days.
Regardless, the quarterbacks continued to throw, the linebackers continued to hit and so on and so on.
Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti continue to split first team reps through drills available to the media, and it’s likely going to continue that way directly up until the start of the season against West Virginia on Sept. 1. Saturday’s scrimmage — which is closed to the media — could be a way to make a showcase statement for either quarterback.
At Thursday’s practice, however, Slovis and Patti were both steady — even with some uncharacteristic drops from the wide receivers. I said yesterday I hadn’t seen a Konata Mumpfield drop. Saw one today. Bub Means let a ball bounce off his hands on a comeback route. Nothing to worry about. Mumpfield is such a smooth runner though. Easy to see how his route running will leave him wide open at times reminiscent of another former slot receiver.
Patti led his receivers well Thursday, especially on crossing routes and slants. Slovis throws a beautiful ball. He throws a very catchable ball too, pushing the ball downfield easily on fades, go routes and post routes. It’s a good combination with more of a run-pass option emphasis.
Dayon Hayes, who informed that he weighs in about at 265 pounds these days, continues to impress every day. He’s an explosive athlete for his size, and his drive during practice is high. Hayes said Wednesday that he’s been spending a lot more time in the film room, but it’s clear he hasn’t neglected the weight room either. The sky is the limit here.
Hayes was very vocal on Thursday, an active participant in drills and between reps. It’s clear that he’s becoming more and more comfortable by the day.
M.J. Devonshire also impressed defensively Thursday, consistently popping up during defensive drills. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback is going to play a lot in 2022. And with Pitt’s emphasis on splash plays, both interceptions and forced fumbles, his range should help allow for both.
There’s one more practice Friday before a date with Acrisure Stadium on Saturday. With another day down on the South Side before such a pivotal scrimmage, consistency across all aspects of practice is just as important. Consistency has been stressed all offseason long, and I’d expect the most consistent performers to emerge in positional battles.