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Sights & Sounds: Pitt Moves Indoors for Second Spring Practice



Pitt spring practice.

PITTSBURGH — This isn’t a shot at the old, departed coaches nor is it a shot at older coaches in general, but you can feel the energy that the new Pitt offensive coaches bring even just through two practices so far.

Lindsey Lamar and JJ Laster, especially, are involved. It’s an encouraging sight, watching them interact with their position groups. They’re young, fresh coaches who clearly connect easily with their players. The same can be said for Kade Bell, Jacob Bronowski and Jeremy Darveau.

Pitt moved inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex Wednesday, escaping the rain, and it made for a more intimate session. It’s just the second day of spring, so the pads aren’t on yet (and likely won’t be until Week 2, which will come after spring break next week), but the energy is still there.

We received a longer look at the quarterbacks on Wednesday, and while it’s clear the timing still isn’t quite there yet, there are some encouraging signs. Nate Yarnell looks sharp. He was the most consistent quarterback during drills available to the media, and his balls have some real pop. It’s throws against air, but he looks good. Truthfully, he’s always looked good during spring ball and fall camp.

The pecking order as it stands during drills is Yarnell, Christian Veilleux, Ty Dieffenbach and Eli Holstein. Some thought that Holstein might start this season, and he still might, but it’s clear that the coaching staff is not rushing him.

The wideouts worked route running with Laster for a large portion of the drills available to the media, and with the quarterbacks busy and a staffer throwing balls behind the wideouts, Konata Mumpfield stepped up to play quarterback for a bit. I still think he might be a little bit more suited as a receiver though. His rapport with Yarnell already looks pretty strong.

Still, a few drops out there, but the numbers weren’t nearly as high as on Monday. Kenny Johnson, who looks even bigger than last season, is one of the wideouts who is leading the unit. All of the four freshmen from last season are looking solid — very active in drills.

Montravius Lloyd is huge. He’s packed on a lot of mass. Derrick Davis Jr. is pretty big, too, and he’s starting to have that look of an NFL running back. Tall, chiseled frame. It will be intriguing to see how the running back room shakes out.

I don’t know if it’s just because they’re not fully padded up or what, but Branson Taylor and Ryan Baer, Baer especially, look trim. Conditioning has been a point of emphasis this offseason, considering the tempo in which Bell’s offense operates, and both Taylor and Baer were over 330 pounds last season. I don’t think that weight was necessarily a problem, but a slimmer, more athletic frame should help with a more active offense.

This is primarily an offensive update, but I did get a look at the defensive linemen, too. Tim Daoust is a real hands-on type of coach, in the mold of Charlie Partridge, and it looks like the defensive linemen are buying into it.

The linemen are looking big. I think a few have packed on some added mass over the earlier portion of the offseason, and while there may not be many 300-pounders, a few will be close. Bam Brima looks a bit bigger, and as he spent his time with the defensive tackles, it’s possible he’s going to move inside to bolster tackle depth.

Pitt certainly needs it with the lack of depth and experience on the interior of the defensive line.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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