CINCINNATI OH - DECEMBER 04: Tino Sunseri #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers throws the ball during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on December 4 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. Pittsburgh won 28-10. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Pitt Football Fall Camp: Walk-On Quarterback Trey Anderson Claims Backup Spot

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Pitt Football Camp: Mark Myers Falls To No. 3 Quarterback Behind Walk-On Trey Anderson

Pitt quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge caused quite a stir at practice on Tuesday with the news that walk-on quarterback Trey Anderson is now the backup to starter Tino Sunseri. I went into this in great detail over at Cardiac Hill, but believe me, this is a big deal.

For Myers to fall from looking like a potential starter down the line for Pitt last season to a third string (and, really, fourth-string behind Anthony Gonzalez who beat him out in the Spring) is a colossal drop. When you add in the fact that the heralded four-star recruit Chad Voytik will be coming in next year, it’s tough to see where Myers fits long-term.

Gonzalez, for what it’s worth, played a few positions such as H-back and receiver for Pitt today according to Zeise. That could open the door for some playing time for him and also clear up the quarterback rotation a bit, but it’s still a bit crowded for Myers if he can’t jump Anderson.


Pitt Football: Is Cam Saddler Poised For Breakout Season?

Generally, when you think of No. 3 receivers, you don’t think of big numbers. And while Pitt’s third receiver Cam Saddler isn’t likely to have a 1,000-yard season, in Todd Graham’s new offense, a breakout type year isn’t out of the realm of possibility.


Mostly because the system relies so heavily on so many receivers. As the No. 3 guy, Saddler is almost assured of having more passes thrown his way than he would in another offense. One big reason Saddler will get lots of opportunities is because of his experience. Graham’s offense calls for up to six to eight receivers and a few of those guys could be freshmen or redshirt freshmen.

Saddler, though, isn’t just getting an opportunity because he’s an upperclassman. He legitimately is starting to impress the coaches:

“Cam is one of the guys I have been pleasantly surprised with,” Norvell said. “He improved himself as a route runner over the summer.”

With Jon Baldwin around last year, Saddler didn’t contribute too much as a receiver – seven catches for 33 yards, to be exact. He was playing behind Baldwin, Mike Shanahan, and Devin Street. But with Baldwin moving on to the NFL this season, Saddler is the clear No. 3 guy for now and should get plenty of targets in 2011.


Pitt Football Fall Camp: Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

Learning a new offense is never easy, but Todd Graham’s fast-paced system may be particularly hard for quarterbacks. While it sounds like progress is being made, the team is still struggling with turnovers on occasion:

We turned the ball over way too much," Graham said.

Sunseri, Mark Myers (twice) and Trey Anderson were intercepted. Running backs Ray Graham, Malcolm Crockett and Desmond Brown lost fumbles in a shoulder-pads-and-shorts practice. There also were at least three bad shotgun snaps when the ball hit the ground.

“I feel really good about the defense,” Todd Graham said, “but I don’t feel good about putting the ball in jeopardy.”

The key part, though, is that starting quarterback Tino Sunseri is having a good camp by all indications. While he did throw an interception during Thursday’s practice, that was his first one in approximately 200 attempts, the Trib article notes. As the starter, that’s a good sign that Tino understands the offense and is limiting his mistakes.


Pitt Football Fall Camp: Ray Graham To Return Kicks?

Todd Graham made a bit of a surprise move by using Ray Graham as a kick returner in practice this week. The latter is supposed to be one of Pitt’s biggest offensive weapons this season and it’s a bit odd that the coach would consider using him in kickoff plays where the chance for a big hit and/or injury exists. Todd Graham, though, has his reasons:

*Practice started with kick return practice and the notable appearance of Ray Graham (below) awaiting the kicks and returning them. It woul(d) certainly be a risky move to put one of their top offensive weapons on kick return, but Todd Graham didn’t seem too worried and kind of dodged a question about it after practice when he said, “If he’s the best one he’ll return them.”

I’m not sure I’d agree with that assessment. Even if Graham is theoretically the best fit there, unless he’s likely to break off a bunch of big returns (which I don’t see), is it really worth the risk of leaving him out there to be injured? Sure, injuries can occur at any point in the game, but the more he’s out on kickoffs, the greater the chance exists he could get hurt.

Unless Pitt has no one capable of holding onto the ball in returning kicks, I’d keep Graham only in the backfield.

UPDATE: The Post-Gazette reports that Graham was back out there again this weekend, so it's looking more likely that he could see some time in the position.


Pitt Football Training Camp: Brock DeCicco Considering Transfer

Head coach Todd Graham’s had his share of transfers joining Pitt, but now he may be losing one. Tight end Brock DeCicco could be on his way out of Graham’s system. Pitt, for now, isn’t saying anything:

“Brock DeCicco has been excused from practice for personal reasons. We will respectfully decline to comment on his situation until there has been a change in his status.”

While DeCicco’s loss would hurt Pitt’s depth at tight end, the move makes sense for him. With new Illinois transfer, Hubie Graham, now in town, DeCicco might not get utilized much this season. In terms of strictly getting playing time, a move might be in his best interest.

The competition provided by Hubie Graham probably is less of a reason for DeCicco potentially transfering than the new offense. It may be difficult to see just how the tight ends will fit in.

Check out SB Nation blog for more DeCicco news and for more information on Pitt’s fall camp.


Pitt Football Fall Camp: Kicker Kevin Harper Improving

Paul Zeise checks in with his daily report in the Post-Gazette. It sounds as if kicker Kevin Harper is getting better and could be a real asset this season:

Finally, the most improved player may just be kicker Kevin Harper, who today boomed a 57-yarder and has been very consistent. Harper clearly has talent, that has never been in question, but he has struggled with consistency and he has struggled with focus. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more as the light may have turned on. And as Todd Graham said today, that’s a good thing because it means he may be able to score a lot of points in this system.

As I wrote about in a feature a few weeks back, special teams is a big concern of mine for this season. If that unit can be merely average, that would suffice in the eyes of most. But if Harper turns into a weapon and is able to kick long field goals with any modicum of consistency, then Pitt’s offense will be even more potent.


Pitt Football Training Camp: Anthony Gonzalez Discusses Arrest

Pitt quarterback Anthony Gonzalez was at training camp and had plenty to say about his arrest over the summer:

“I deserve what I got, and I’ve learned from it,” Gonzalez said.

“I should have never put myself in that situation. I should not have never been there [in a car with some friends, where the arrest occurred]. I’m just ready to move on and be a part of this team.”

Gonzalez went on and sounded extremely contrite about the incident. He also went on to talk about his diminished role with the team:

“I also had a big chance of playing and being productive … but it is all over with now."

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Sure, he’s behind a bit and will be since he’s suspended for Pitt’s first two games. But there’s plenty of season left after that and if he displays the promise he showed in Spring practice, there’s no reason he can’t come back to claim the backup job to Tino Sunseri. Mark Myers probably had a good hold on that role for now, but that’s something that could change down the line.


Pitt Football Training Camp: Offensive Line Still Work In Progress

Frankly, this isn’t news that I wanted to hear, but the offensive line still seems unsettled. Sure, it’s only the beginning of camp, but it’d be nice if the starters had all of camp to get acclimated to their particular positions and each other.

But Paul Zeise of the PG says that’s not the case:

The offensive line is doing some shuffling again as the coaches are scrambling to find two guards who can play. So far this has been a fruitless exercise but there is a long way to go. The team went into some 11-on-11 stuff late in the practice tonight and this was the starting offensive line left to right — Jordan Gibbs, Chris Jacobson, Ryan Turnley, Cory King, Lucas Nix — and the obvious move is Turnley taking a shot at center. The bottom line is coaches are looking to find the best combination of two guards and a center and so far they are struggling to come up with one. Jacobson could be the center but he right now is so much better than any of the other guards that if Turnley can snap the ball and man the center position at a reasonable level, it would really go a long way towards solidfying things.

It’s true that the first team may all end up on the first team by the time camp is over. But the positions are far from settled. And I’ll venture to say that if someone underperforms and/or Greg Gaskins has trouble as the second-team center, we’re going to see more shuffling.


Pitt Football Fall Camp: Dan Mason Still Out

Middle linebacker Dan Mason had a highly-publicized injury during the game against the Miami Hurricanes last season. He ended up missing the rest of the season and while it was hoped he could possibly return this year, it was looking like an uphill battle.

Head coach Todd Graham said earlier this year that Mason wasn’t day-to-day or week-to-week … but month-to-month.

Later in the year, Graham thought that Mason was getting better – so much so that he thought could possibly be ready for Pitt’s opener against Buffalo:

“If any kid can do it, he can do it,” Graham said. “He tells me every day he’s going to get there. He’s progressing, but if we had a game today, he wouldn’t be able to play.”

When asked whether he had hope Mason would be ready in time for the season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 3, Graham said, “I think he will be, and he thinks he will be, but the medical people are not so sure. He has got a lot of work to do to strengthen the leg. I believe he can do it.”

But on Monday during fall camp, Mason was apparently not on the field. It seemed like a long shot to me, anyway, but Mason getting back by the opener probably isn’t realistic just because he’s not been able to practice.

For more on fall camp, visit SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.

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