Not much to go on right now. The stats on offense (PDF) such as they are say that Tino Sunseri was the better passer. Going 6-7 for 60 yards and a TD. Bostick was adequate at 9-14 but with an interception. Sunseri, though, took two sacks for -15 yards while Stull was unscathed.
To the shock of no one, Coach Wannstedt sees no controversy.
On the quarterbacks:
“Bill Stull went with the first group. Then Pat Bostick was next. Then we gave Tino Sunseri a shot with the first team, and he responded. We brought Bill Stull back, and then Pat Bostick with the third group. We’re really at this point in camp trying to work all three of them. I thought that all three did fairly well. I don’t think that any of them jumped off the charts in a great way, or in a bad way. We had some checks at the line, they all handled that well. We signaled things in, they all handled that well. I think that those little things that go without notice sometimes, they all handled that well.”
On the starting quarterback position:
“Bill Stull is the starting quarterback. Obviously we’re in training camp and every day we go on the field to prove ourselves and we have to continue to improve. I don’t think it’s as much as we’ve got to prove something, as much as it is to improve. The decision making, and the throws, that’s what training camp is for.”
I take that back, someone was surprised.
The declaration was surprising, considering that Stull has struggled during camp and appeared to be losing ground in recent days to Sunseri, who has begun to get first-team reps in every practice. Bostick, however, again worked only with the second team, which seems to indicate that he is headed for a role as backup or, perhaps, even a redshirt.
During yesterday’s scrimmage, Stull’s first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by defensive back Jared Holley. Stull completed 9 of 14 passes for 57 yards, but all the completions were short, safe passes, and he led one touchdown drive.
Sunseri was 6 for 7 for 60 yards and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Jon Tisak. Sunseri appeared to throw a second touchdown pass, a fade to receiver Jonathan Baldwin, but Baldwin dropped it in the corner of the end zone.
Really? Surprised? After everything Wannstedt has said and his history? You can’t be surprised. Even if it isn’t believed, Wannstedt saying it should not be surprising.
What is interesting is that despite Wannstedt’s protestations, everyone else seems to see this as a QB competition.
If Stull is the unquestioned starter, it isn’t being discussed in position meetings with Frank Cignetti Jr., Pitt’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Panthers are treating each practice as if it’s an audition, and Stull’s first pass was intercepted by cornerback Jarred Holley.
“I feel if I don’t play well that I’m not going to play,” said Stull, who also led an eight-play scoring drive. “Obviously, it is a competition. I know how camp is around here. I definitely think it’s a competition. I’m always going to compete and do my best, and I know the guys behind me are going to do the same.”
Stull is being pushed by Sunseri, who’s splitting first-team reps with Stull and appears to have moved ahead of junior Pat Bostick (5-of-10 passing for 18 yards). Sunseri has impressed with his arm strength and mobility, but he admits he’s still learning the nuances of the offense and huddle command.
Nonetheless, he led two scoring drives, settling for a field goal on the first after Jonathan Baldwin dropped a corner fade in the end zone and rolling right to throw a 22-yard touchdown to walk-on tight end Jon Tisak on the second.
“With the way coach Cignetti has done it, it’s open competition,” said Sunseri, son of former Pitt All-America linebacker and assistant coach Sal Sunseri. “In that same aspect, we’re trying to help each other every day. … Whatever we can do to help the team is what we’re going to do, and whoever can do it the best is going to play.”
As for Ray Graham, while it appears he impressed Kevin Gorman with his performance, any Wannstedt watchers know that Graham probably hurt his chances by fumbling the ball on his first two touches (recovering one of them).
I’m guessing Dion Lewis is still the leader for the top of the depth chart at tailback at this point. Graham will be a factor in time, but he has been fumbling too much in practice and now the scrimmage for Coach Wannstedt to trust him right now.
On Ray Graham fumbling and recovering:
“Ray Graham has talent. With those early turnovers, you easily go down 14-0. It was a fumble last year in the Bowling Green game early that turned the game around. So, that’s all part of it. It’s just not a matter of how hard someone is throwing the ball, or how many moves a player has or athletic ability, but are they able to play the whole game and do the little things that are necessary. That’s what we’re working through with the younger guys. There’s no question that Ray Graham has talent, he’s going to be a heck of a player. There’s no question that Tino Sunseri’s got talent, he’s going to be a heck of a player, but it’s just a matter of when and how fast these guys come along.”
Back to QBing, and Gene Collier apparently attended the scrimmage. He sees Sunseri as the best option, and not just because of the unwashed masses.
Bostick went next and launched one of the very few deep balls attempted, overthrowing sophomore wideout Aaron Smith quite comfortably. Sunseri followed, but it wasn’t possible to determine if he was drawing any momentum from Panther-centric portions of the blogosphere and the related message boards, where it is widely advanced that in the current history of Pitt football, it is “Tino Time.”
Let the record show that I have not, nor do I intend to use that phrase. Otherwise, good to know another reader.
The redshirt freshman out of Central Catholic might not be any better than the others at checking down at the line or in any of his required recognitions, but again yesterday the best balls thrown came out of his right hand. Sunseri was anything but error-free, but his 16-yard slant to Oderick Turner was maybe the crispest completion of the scrimmage, and his fade pass to Jonathan Baldwin was just the prettiest thing, even if it was disallowed by a boundary call. When Sunseri rolled right later in practice and found freshman tight end John Tisak behind Todd Gilchrist, nothing Bostick or Stull could arrange between then and the end of hostilities could alter the impression that Sunseri looks like Wannstedt’s best pitcher.
There is no escaping the undercurrent that to most observers Sunseri looks best and Stull is just not looking like he has earned the starting gig.
On the defensive side, the stats here (PDF) show the safeties led in tackling. Looks like most of the defense got work and collected tackles. No shock since the defense has been and continues to be dominate.
On the kicking matters:
Both Pitt kickers converted field goals yesterday — Dan Hutchins a 30-yarder, and Kevin Harper a 36-yarder, as well as an extra point. Hutchins also punted twice for an average of 39 yards, and walk-on Matt Yoklic punted once for 51 yards.
I’m going to guess that as long as Harper shows accuracy he will be the kicker and Hutchins will land the punting duties. I just don’t see the coaches going with Hutchins to handle both. Kickoff duties is anyone’s guess.
Looking over the list of players who did not play, I’m mildly concerned that Nate Byham has missed several practices with a “headache” after taking a hit. Aren’t they called concussions these days?
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said redshirt junior defensive tackle Ty Tkach had surgery on his left foot this week and is expected to miss about three weeks. Fourteen other Panthers didn’t participate in the scrimmage: safeties Irv Brown (calf) and Elijah Fields (foot), tight ends Nate Byham (headache), Andrew Devlin (knee) and Dorin Dickerson (hamstring), linebacker Carl Fleming (headache), quarterback Kolby Gray (shoulder), tailback Shariff Harris (hamstring), cornerback Buddy Jackson (jaw), center Wayne Jones (knee), wide receivers Cedric McGee (hamstring) and Mike Shanahan (hand), right tackle Lucas Nix (infection) and safety Marco Pecora (ankle).
The running back battle also may have thinned out for a while as Jason Douglas was hurt in practice. Status unknown.
Mike Shanahan has to be very frustrated to have missed the scrimmage. He was looking great.
Q: You mentioned that Jonathan Baldwin and Aundre Wright are having great camps at wide receiver. How are the rest of the wide receivers doing? How do the third and fourth receiver spots look?
ZEISE: I think the receivers as a whole have played extremely well this camp. I really do. I think Mike Shanahan, before he got hurt, was making a push to really get into that top four group. He was having a great camp and he might have the best hands at camp as I don’t recall one ball he dropped. But right now the top three are Baldwin, Cedric McGee and Oderick Turner. Aundre Wright has probably the edge over the other players because he’s been the most consistent and he has some experience. There have been flashes from players like Greg Cross, Cameron Saddler and Ed Tinker but I don’t think any has made enough of a push to get into the top four yet.
TE Mike Cruz did return to practice after missing a few days for the nebulous “personal reasons.”