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August 20, 2012Pitt opened the final week of training camp on Monday morning with yet another practice in full pads. Through two-plus weeks in camp, the team has worked in full pads for all but one practice since the first workout in full pads on the first Friday of camp.
And on that one non-pad day, the players still worked in shoulder pads, so the contact wasn't exactly limited.
After 15 consecutive days of practice and 11 consecutive days of contact - including two live scrimmages and daily live practice periods - even the toughest players might start to wear down. That could be happening in Pitt's training camp; redshirt junior linebacker Shane Gordon called Monday's morning practice "sluggish," and head coach Paul Chryst said after practice that the players need to fight through the wear on their bodies.
"I think they're feeling tired and feeling sorry for themselves a little bit," Chryst said. "We're going, and they have to get used to that."
In particular, the scrimmages have been especially daunting. Two weeks ago, the coaches ran more than 180 plays, easily the most of any Pitt scrimmage in recent history. They followed up with a 130-play scrimmage on Saturday, and while that was a 50-play reduction from the previous week, the two-scrimmage total of more than 310 plays has to be some kind of record.
All if it is adding up to be arguably the most physically demanding camp any of these players have experienced at Pitt. Some of the players are responding, and the coaches hope that more will follow that lead.
"There are some guys that are throwing it in there, and we appreciate that," Chryst said. "We have to get everyone going in that direction.
"It's a physical game and it's a tough game. That's the only way you can practice it, I think."
Pitt has three more days of practice this week before transitioning into game prep for the season opener against Youngstown State on Sept. 1. While camp has been tough, Gordon knows that it should help prepare the team for when it takes the field in real games.
"This is going to show how tough we are in the season," Gordon said Monday. "We just have to push through and get ready."