PITTSBURGH — Pitt has entered the home stretch of training camp following Saturday’s scrimmage at Acrisure Stadium, and as practice resumes for the final week, there’s an expectation that a lot of positional battles will be decided.
There are battles at quarterback, on the offensive line in multiple spots, in the linebacking corps, in the secondary and even at placekicker. The amount of competition on the roster is high, and that’s what head coach Pat Narduzzi preaches. The first scrimmage last weekend was won by the defense, and the second this weekend was won by the offense.
It’s been back and forth all summer, really since the spring practices first started back in late February, but it’s nearing the climax. Camp battles have to be decided as the season opener looms.
So, suffice to say, it’s an important week of camp coming up for Pitt football.
The outcome of camp battles is looked at in deciding starters, but in some cases, it’ll be determining reps. Who will play where and how much? That’s not the case with the quarterbacks. If Kedon Slovis wins it, it’s his job, and vice versa.
It’s been a friendly yet competitive battle between Slovis and Patti since the former arrived from USC in the winter, and it’s highly likely the presence of both in the room has led to an increased level of play in the room. There certainly hasn’t been all that much difference in play, whether it’s been in the spring or summer.
Slovis has been the leader in the clubhouse, and his poise, precision and NFL-caliber arm have allowed him to make throws that would excite even the most stoic fan. He throws a beautiful football, and he looked sharp Monday — connecting with Jaylon Barden and Konata Mumpfield on well-thrown deep balls against light secondary work.
Patti has certainly not been a slouch himself. He’s battled Slovis every step of the way, and he also looked sharp Monday — a trend of both quarterbacks looking good during drills available to the media.
Speaking of Barden, Narduzzi’s choice for MVP of Saturday’s scrimmage, he’s continued to strive for consistency this summer. He broke his collarbone and missed time last season, has worked on eliminating drops from his play and if Saturday’s scrimmage is any indication, he’s ready for an increased workload in the receiving corps.
The likes of Konata Mumpfield, Jared Wayne and Bub Means have established themselves as the leading trio, but Barden should be able to supplement Mumpfield as a deep-threat slot receiver.
On a quick side, walk-on Isaiah Nesmith made a great one-handed snag during drills available to the media Monday. The Florida native followed Tiquan Underwood to Pitt from Rutgers, and while he won’t make an impact this season, he could be one to watch.
The linebacking corps continues to look more and more secure by the day. Bangally Kamara and Shayne Simon flanking SirVocea Dennis is almost a lock at this point, running drills together again Monday.
The duo of Tylar Wiltz and Solomon DeShields is a good bet to serve as the top reserves, both seeing more than a fair share of snaps this season, and it was Nick Lapi who played the Mike spot between them. Lapi, a walk-on who has impressed this summer, could be an option to see the field if injuries carry into the season.
A.J. Woods, M.J. Devonshire and Rashad Battle form a defacto starting cornerback between, considering the experience level at multiple spots across the secondary, but it’s Woods who will likely line up across from Marquis Williams on Sept. 1.
The progression made this week could not only determine who starts the season but also who sees increased snaps in reserve roles.