Offense disappointing in second scrimmage
Thursday, August 19, 2010
By Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The second scrimmage of Pitt's 2010 training camp is in the books and it is clear the Panthers still have some work to do on offense in order to get ready for the season.

The Panthers went about 100 plays and scored only one touchdown, and even the lone touchdown was a fluke. It was a high-flying, wobbly pass from Pat Bostick to Greg Cross that the defensive back overran and Cross made a nice adjustment to come back and catch it.

But as these things usually go, it isn't yet time to panic for two reasons. One, the defense for the first time looked like it was in midseason form and the defensive line, without Greg Romeus, was as dominant as it was last year when it led Division I in sacks. Two, the offense was working on some things schematically which are a little different than the unit's bread and butter.

Pitt usually operates best out of two backs -- fullback Henry Hynoski and tailback Dion Lewis -- a tight end and two receivers but Wednesday in the scrimmage, the Panthers were in one-back with three receivers almost exclusively and the results were pretty unsuccessful.

"There is definitely disappointment," Pitt offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said about the offense's performance. "I saw things out there today that can lose football games, I saw inefficiency in the run game, I saw inefficiency in the pass protection, I saw inefficiency in the passing game, I saw turnovers, penalties, dropped balls -- all the things we talk about in terms of playing smart and minimizing mistakes, those mistakes all showed up today.

"Now, from a schematic standpoint, we played it a little bit different. What we wanted to find out today is could we go out there in a one-back set with three receivers and could we run the ball and could we pass the ball. And the answer to that question today is, we weren't very effective. We did not play well enough to help our team win today."

Cignetti was particularly unhappy with quarterbacks Tino Sunseri and Bostick because neither had a good day and more important, both missed some throws which should have yielded big plays. Sunseri was 6 for 17 with 36 yards while Bostick was 5 for 15 for 48 yards.

The team had at least two turnovers -- there were a couple of fumbles which may or may not have been recovered by the offense but in the interest of keeping the scrimmage were awarded to the offense -- and the first- and second-team offensive lines gave up four sacks.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said the defense played well and he is happy with the progress that side of the ball has made, but he stressed that the Panthers' offense is nowhere close to being ready for the season opener, which is two weeks from today.

"Our base defense was very, very solid today," Wannstedt said. "Offensively we have to get in sync a little bit. We aren't consistent enough right now. We've got the guys who are willing to work, we know what we have to get done but we need to improve as a team."

Cignetti echoed Wannstedt's sentiments that the team unit needs to improve quickly but he dismissed any notion that it is a matter of camp fatigue or that the offense is mentally tired and said he's not in the business of making excuses.

"We had a great practice earlier this morning," Cignetti said, "but we were in our regular offense. This afternoon, we came out in the one-back offense and we struggled. The defense rose to the occasion and we didn't."

If there was one thing that the defense didn't do well it was capitalize on the offense's inefficiency by forcing turnovers. The defense had plenty of opportunities to make plays as the quarterbacks threw a number of balls that hit defenders in the hands, but Brandon Ifill was the only one who came down with an interception.

Pitt defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said that is not an acceptable ratio.

"Oh my God, hit us in the head, hit us in the hands," Bennett said. "A lot of it was quick game and that ball is ricocheted and I think we got four turnovers but we had a chance to get 10. In games, that is your difference makers, if you get turnovers, you win."

[HIGH-LIGHT]The opener
Game: Pitt at Utah, Salt Lake City.
When: 8:30 p.m. Sept. 2.
TV: Versus.
The skinny: Pitt finished No. 15 and Utah No. 18 in the final Associated Press poll last season.[/HIGH-LIGHT]