Panther-lair - Bates on the defense, competition and more
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Bates on the defense, competition and more

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Pitt defensive coordinator Randy Bates likes the competition he’s seeing through two weeks of camp, and he spoke to the media about that on Wednesday.

Here’s what he had to say.

Any big takeaways from you from Saturday’s scrimmage?
I would say I took away the fact that the kids are really competing. We had a lot of guys out there on the field and there’s a lot of great competition right now. I feel like there may be some changes in the depth chart in the next probably week, based on what’s happening out there. I hate to say who yet, because it hasn’t happened, but there’s a good likelihood that some guys will beat other guys out and you guys will know as soon as I know.

What position groups are you looking at those battles, those competitions?
I’ll tell you what: all three of them. There’s great battles up front. We have probably seven guys that I think are competing to be starters in the first eight guys. So I’m very pleased there. At linebacker, you guys know we have pretty good experience, we have a lot of fifth-year guys, but those backups are coming along. Very pleased with that. And then, you know, the secondary, it’s a revolving door of guys making plays. So it’s a matter of who’s going to be the most consistent guys are going to play.

What does that competition do for your defense?
I think it’s making them all better because every day they have to come out and compete, and that is a testament to the recruiting and it’s a testament to the way the kids are coming out and competing. Sometimes guys get happy with being a second-team guy, and our guys are not; they’re trying to compete to be a starter and that’s what we encourage. That’s what we are on their case about. And I’m very pleased they’re doing that.

Wat have you seen from Paris Ford after 11 days?
Well, Paris has probably had in the last three days five or six interceptions. So he is a guy who makes a lot of great plays and we’re looking just from consistency out of a young guys like Paris. Paris hasn’t played a lot; the more he can play, the better he’ll be. The better he’ll be, the more he’ll play.

Were you able to get an interception from Pickett yet?
That’s a great question. I really don’t pay attention; they’re all in red to me. But we had several picks, so you’ll have to ask those guys, because I’m sure they keep track of it better than I do. But Kenny’s a tremendous quarterback. He makes great decisions. So if anybody’s difficult to get one from, it’s certainly Kenny.

Is Paris one of those guys who, when you grade practices, not everything grades out perfectly as far as assignments, but then you start getting the production points and you find there are plays that he made?
There’s no doubt. There’s no doubt. He is a guy who makes some big plays and then makes some things that are just inexperience. Sometimes you can liken that to my first year of coaching James Harrison. Sometimes there was an “Oh no! Oh great!” play. That was kind of my first year with him, and obviously as he became a more experienced guy and paid attention to detail more, he obviously was a great player.

Did you tell the James Harrison story to Paris?
I have not. But he knows I’ve coached him. I probably should. That’s a great idea.

How has Paris handled taking some touches on offense with all the time he’s playing on defense?
I haven’t seen anything to think it’s been a problem. He’s certainly a good enough athlete to do both and I’m sure he’ll do that. You’d have to ask Coach Collins, as he’s with him more than me, as far as, if there’s been any change. But from a D-coordinator’s standpoint, I’ve seen no problems whatsoever.

Who are some guys that have really jumped out at you this camp compared to what you saw in the spring?
Oh geez, I’ll tell you: many guys come to mind. Mathis, Brightwell, Elias Reynolds, Twyman, I mean, I can go on and on. I’m just so pleased that the kids are competing, and I hate to single anybody out because we have that many guys. I could go on and on about it. But the guys are just competing and giving us all we want. So like I said, it’s just great competition right now. I’m really pleased with that.

What does it mean to have a fifth-year guy like Quintin Wirginis in the middle of your defense?
Well, Quintin is still learning; he didn’t play last year. So he has to knock some rust off, too. But, boy, he’s got all the tools to be a great one, and if he can just continue to, you know, get better at the things that he has missed for a year, it’d be tremendous. But it is a great help to have an older, experienced guy.

What kind of hand did you have in Chase Pine moving down from linebacker to D-end?
That was a staff decision, but ultimately it comes to Coach Narduzzi.