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Pittsburgh spring wrap

5/3/2010

2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 5-2, T-2nd in Big East

Returning starters

Offense: 5. Defense: 6. Punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

RB Dion Lewis, WR Jonathan Baldwin, OT Jason Pinkston, DE Greg Romeus, DE Jabaal Sheard, LB Max Gruder, WR Mike Shanahan, LB Dan Mason

Key losses

QB Bill Stull, DT Mick Williams, TE Dorin Dickerson, TE Nate Byham, LB Adam Gunn, CB Aaron Berry, S Elijah Fields

2010 Schedule

Sept. 2: at Utah


Sept. 11: New Hampshire


Sept. 23: Miami


Oct. 2: Florida International


Oct. 9: at Notre Dame


Oct. 16: at Syracuse


Oct. 23: Rutgers


Oct. 30: Louisville


Nov. 11: at Connecticut


Nov. 20: at South Florida


Nov. 26: West Virginia


Dec. 4: at Cincinnati2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Dion Lewis* (1,799 yards)

Passing: Bill Stull (2,633 yards)

Receiving: Jonathan Baldwin* (1,111 yards)

Tackles: Max Gruder* (91)

Sacks: Greg Romeus* (8)

Interceptions:
Dom DeCicco*, Jarred Holley* and Elijah Fields (3)

Spring answers

1. Tino time: This spring ostensibly brought a quarterback competition, but Tino Sunseri began it as the No. 1 guy and held off a challenge from Pat Bostick to remain in that role. The sophomore has a good arm, solid mobility and a strong understanding of the game. Even though he's never had much significant college experience, Pitt feels comfortable with him under center.

2. Reed and react: The Panthers were looking for someone to step up at cornerback, and Antwuan Reed did just that. The junior had been confined mostly to a special teams and backup role his first two years but shined in his chance to run with the first team. He should be a starter in the fall.

3. More playmakers: Pitt was already blessed to have Dion Lewis, Jonathan Baldwin and Mike Shanahan. This spring saw Ray Graham excel alongside Lewis at tailback and former quarterback Greg Cross push for playing time at receiver. Add in impressive young wideout Devin Street, and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. has a lot of options and flexibility.

Fall questions



1. Department of the interior: The offensive line is solid at the tackle spots, but Pittsburgh left the spring with lingering questions at center and right guard. Alex Karabin is trying to hold onto the job at center, but he's been a four-year walk-on for a reason. The Panthers will either have to explore some shuffling around or hope their current players improve this summer to keep the interior stout. The backups on the O-line need work, too.

2. Tight end turnover: Arguably the two best tight ends in the Big East called Heinz Field home last year as both Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham got drafted last month. Replacing them and what each did so well -- Dickerson a versatile and speedy pass catcher, Byham a tough-nosed blocker -- won't be easy. Mike Cruz appeared to be the best all-around option on the roster this spring.

3. Weakside linebacker strength: Two-year starter Greg Williams held onto his job in the spring, but just barely. Tristan Roberts made a strong charge for the role and earned coach Dave Wannstedt's praise, while Williams has struggled to play up to his physical talent. This is a competition worth watching in the fall.