September 17, 2011

I very rarely, if ever, trash a player on the internet or in conversation.  I think because these kids are working hard and trying the best they can they deserve respect for their efforts.  So I’ll say, respectfully, that Tino Sunseri must be taught a lesson.  It has to be clear, unmistakable and administered with no hesitation.  If you cause your team to lose a football game you should expect to be replaced.  If you are any kind of team player and sportsman you’ll also realize exactly why it’s happening.

We had three turnovers today; each one was avoidable and directly caused by Sunseri.  It’s not enough to have one good play a quarter; it’s not enough to have a great completion percentage and it’s not enough, obviously, to lead your team to a big lead.  Not when you also lead your team to five three and outs… three in the second half alone.   Along with his turnovers, his inability to keep the offense on the field and extend time consuming drives killed us.

I won’t say the defense played well, they sure didn’t.  But you could see they were gassed by having to return to the field so soon after Iowa’s long drives in the third and fourth quarters.  They played damn well in the first half when they had a chance to get their butts on the bench for a while and then get their feet back under them when playing.  I’ll say this without hesitation, a major reason they played so poorly is, again, the direct result of poor play by the QB.

Enough is enough.  What should have been a solid win for us imploded before our eyes and our hearts.  Iowa’s passing defense was there for the taking and we really didn’t capitalize on it when it was necessary to do so.  Sunseri again looked hesitant, held the ball way too long and either shortarmed wide open receivers or, because he couldn’t decide just how to blow the deep pass, either overthrew or under threw his deep receivers.

He remained telegraphing his throws yet again and on both interceptions the defensive backs had ample time to position themselves, order a beer and drink half of it before grabbing the football.  Forget about the infuriating habit of throwing a two yard pass when you need five yards for a 1st down, to do differently is just too much to ask of him it seems.

I advocated starting Sunseri this weekend to see how he responded against better competition.  Well, we all saw it.  His stats may mitigate criticism from some fans but one has to be purposely refusing to see the nose in front of one’s face to feel Sunseri pulled his weight in any way.  Yes, he completed 70 percent of his passes; yes, he rolled up 255 in passing yardage but where were the successes when it matter the most?… Nowhere, that’s where.

So what do you do when dead weight drags you down?  You cut it loose and replace it with something that reverses the downward momentum.  In this case that is Trey Anderson.  There is most probably no way that he plays with any worse results than Sunseri has shown to this point.  Hold back on the ‘inexperienced true freshman’ argument please.  Sunseri’s experience hasn’t helped him one bit this season.  Buckle up and make the change.  It truly can’t get any worse than it is right now.

But this raises another and more damaging fear.  That is Todd Graham’s unwillingness to take risks with this football team.  When Iowa was storming back in the second half Graham still played it close to the vest – even when every college football fan knew that we would have to outscore them in the final minutes of play to win the game.  Relying on our defense at that point was a lost cause.  I understand those are hard calls to make, I honestly do, but it appeared that being aggressive in play was the ultimate in false advertising this season.

Coach, we’ve heard you say “One, Two Three, Go!’ a lot these last few weeks.  How about taking a critical look at the results of our QB play over the last three games and say “One, two three, Go!” to the current starter.

Reed, no need to apologize. I agree, you don’t trash college players, but this isn’t trashing Tino. It is just stating the obvious, that Tino is not cut out for this system. We should let him transfer to Rutgers or something after this season where his play might fit the system. He can’t do it in the Todd Graham spread system, that is obvious.
I have to think that the coaches knew, or anticipated that it may come to this and that’s why they empowered Coach Dodge to go out and bring in Trey, knowing that a smallish QB who plays the system is likely better than a well-sized (Tino still isn’t really that big a guy) who hasn’t played the system and may not pick it up. Well, Tino hasn’t picked it up. Time to trust your intuitions and throw Trey in to give us at least a chance to win some of these games.

Comment by Patrick 09.18.11 @ 7:23 am

Iowa, though not that good, is big and strong. Our D was gassed thanks to our offense. Tino needs to sit on the sideline for the ND game and Todd needs to take better care if the clock. What’s with him running the sideline to call a time out only to have Tino bobble the snap. Why call a timeout and give Iowa’s D a breather? Mistakes were made by players and coaches. Given that Todd coached against Oklahoma, he should have been prepared for this game. Pitt handed Iowa a win. Let’s hope that Todd and the team learned from mistakes made yesterday. It would be nice to win the Big East and I think they can achieve this goal. We do need a punter. Perhaps Todd can as students to try out as
walk ons…

Comment by MariettaMike 09.18.11 @ 8:34 am

First off just give it a rest with “what Graham should have done this or that”. He is the coach and will run the team just as he did at Tulsa. He aint the previous coach.

Having said that Tino is a momentum killer. This O is predicated on relentless pressure on the opponent. You can’t have relentless pressure when the trigger-man 1) Pulls the trigger and misfires 2) Does not pull the trigger but runs around like a chicken with its head gone. 3)

Reed is correct. This o is predicated on scoring points. That being the case, Tino needs to ride the pine. We saw what he could do vs an average at best FBC school.

There is nothing worse for a fan than to have to support a player who is not and never will be ready for prime time. Yes a QB needs to have the physical skills but said skills are null/void if his brain cannot process the info in front of him. The end result is Tino.

Comment by Kenny 09.18.11 @ 9:17 am

We are now in the ACC and all that means for pitt from this day foward and you are all still talking abought one game. when you should be thinking how this will change recruiting or when do we start playing in the ACC or 100 outher things this is so mutch more importent than one game.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.11 @ 9:35 am

“TCoach Graham should have burned some clock. High Octane should work it’s magic and then kill some clock to destroy any hope of a comeback. There are no excuses that he can give for what happened today. Poor time management killed us. Sunseri played badly but the coaching was even worse.” Thank you PANTHOOR, you hit the nail right on the head. Burn some of the freaking clock. You won’t pull Tino so, burn a couple of minutes while you still have a 14 or 7 point lead. The high octane hasn’t kicked in yet and it’s like taking my ’73 Gremlin out to drag race an Aston Martin V-12 Vantage. Please wait for me at the finish line. It ain’t all Tino’s fault……….there’s plenty of blame to go around. (By the way I have TREY FOR QB shirts $10 each)

Comment by 13-9 09.18.11 @ 9:48 am

I want to read all these comments, but I really can’t with Pitt bullshit anymore. All I want is Trey Anderson to start and we beat Notre Dame next Saturday. I desperately need something close to the excitement of my freshman year Pitt’s win over a ranked Miami team at the old Stadium. Walt Harris and Pistol Pete, how sweet it was.

Comment by Justin 09.18.11 @ 10:36 am


I suggest you read slight less than one-third of the comments on each thread so that you too can be a member of the “33% Club” (named after Dorsett of course) on PITT Blather.

Great and thoughtful discussions everyone. The really good thing about this blog is that, for the most part, our commendatory is above board and focused into the subject at hand.

Even the severely critical comments are written for others to read and comment on.


Comment by Reed 09.18.11 @ 10:47 am

OK, I got a great nights sleep. It’s a new day, Pitt is 2-1 in football, lost to Iowa in a close one, losing by only 4 points.

I know, it was a fourth quarter meltdown by Pitt, really embarrassing, if you’re a Pitt fan. But you know what, other than for us Pitt fans, nobody else in the wider world of sports really gives a damn that Pitt shit the bed again yesterday in that game. Only us!

Pitt IS making the national headlines again though and everybody else in the college football world IS TAKING NOTICE of the real news,,,,,,,, Pitt and Syracuse going to the ACC.

I’m happy that Pitt has moved proactively but I’m not proud of how this came about. Yesterday, Nordy and Slippery Steve very effectively killed any chance of the Big East surviving this conference realignment process by their actions. Good for Pitt, bad for a lot of other schools.

I feel the worst for TCU, “welcome to the Big East, please turn the lights out when you’re done, the rest of us will already be gone”! Sorry, Jamie Dixon, awkward!

Well, at least we’re back in the national limelight for awhile.

Back to the game analysis. Yes, I fully agree with everybody who are blaming Coach Graham for this loss.

Yes, I fully agree with everybody who are blaming Tino Sunseri for this loss.

Yes, I fully agree with everybody who are blaming Pitt’s defense for this loss.

I Guess there is just plenty of blame to go around.

Here is my spin on yesterday’s 4th quarter debacle. N…E…X…T!!! As in NEXT!!!

IMO, Coach Graham lost this game. Why? By his decision NOT to start Trey Anderson at QB. If he had done that all of the other questionable game day coaching decision issues never even materialize for discussion because we would have won this game by at least 4 touchdowns going away.

IMO, Tino Sunseri lost this game. Why? Because he is just not talented enough to pull it off. Sorry Tino, you gave it your best shot, you’re just not the guy to run this offense.

IMO the defense lost this game (specifically the secondary). Why? Because they were on the field too long, got gassed and couldn’t finish. It helped that the Iowa QB put his passes on the money with touch during the 4th quarter comeback but it is still on them to defend.

Simple answer to all of the above, NEXT! As in next quaterback.

Give all of the practice reps to Trey Anderson this week Coach, correct your mistake. Start Anderson next week against ND.

When that happens this team goes through a metamorphosis.

This team has the weapons to be effective utilizing Graham’s system on offense. It only needs a QB who can stomp on the accelerator like it needs to be stomped on.

That guy is Trey Anderson. With him at the helm the entire complexion of the game changes for Pitt. The offense outscores the opponent and the pressure comes off of the defense. The confidence level goes through the roof on both sides of the ball.

If Tray Anderson starts next week against ND, we win that game, no doubt in my mind. This kid is going to turn this team around if he will just be given the chance.

I see no alternative for Todd Graham at this point but to do so. Tino just can’t get it done. With the right QB in there yesterday all those dumb coaching decisions fade away becuse we’re scoring points out of our ass and never take our foot off of the throat of this Iowa team. End of story.

Trey Anderson is a very simple answer to many problems on this Pitt football team. Thanks for all of your hardwork Tino,,,,,NEXT!!!

I fully expect that the boos will rain down from the stands next week at the ND games if Sunseri trots out on the field for our 1st offensive series but those boos should not be directed at Tino, this guy has played his heart out, they should be reserved entirely for Coach Graham and his inability to make the “all in bet” required to back up his preseason “High Octane Offense” talk, which is quickly turning into bullshit if Graham doesn’t have the balls to back it up with his walk.

BE play hasn’t even started yet. Get Trey in there Coach, we’re all in for some real fun when you finally decide to pull that trigger.

As always, “HAIL TO PITT”!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.18.11 @ 11:04 am

Well I waited a day to vent…The good news is I saw the potential in this team. On the road, tough environment to play in, and we built a big lead over the first 3 quarters. The bad news, then we pulled a gigantic choke job. The coaches choked, the players choked. Another game on ESPN, another flop. The truth is, we were throwing most of the punches in this game, as soon as Iowa punched back one time, our coaches and players folded their tent and went home. Let’s hope this is last time we will see our coaches and players with poop in their pants this year!

Comment by HbgFrank 09.18.11 @ 11:35 am

Well said, HbgFrank, blame goes all around.

Comment by dugdog 09.18.11 @ 1:19 pm

As an Iowa fan who was at yesterday’s game, I’m blown away by all the negative takes on your Pitt team. Anyone notice that your Pitt defense held Iowa’s ‘power running game’ to a net 54 yds? That is something that no Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn St team has EVER managed to do in Kinnick Stadium in the past 25 yrs. Your D-line is awesome. Your QB played an excellent game — not perfect — but trust me, if your team plays that same way every game they could win out. The turning points in the game were the 2 third and ones that Pitt couldn’t convert, and the decision to go for it on 4th and 3 in the 4th qtr up by 10 on the Iowa 36. (Neither related to the QB.) Bad decision, and everyone in Iowa City knew it was a huge gift of 25 yds or so, plus momentum when the bomb failed. You can’t fault the coach for not being aggressive tho. Your defensive passing schemes were also effective for most of the game, with the Iowa QB saying afterward they were throwing all sorts of weird stuff at him…it just took awhile for him to figure it out.

Comment by Grady 09.18.11 @ 4:27 pm

Gracious of you Grady, but you haven’t watched us over the last several years like we have — and haven’t seen Tino do this over and over. Pitt lost its games the past two years not because of a lack of talent or schemes, but because Tino causes no fear in the opponent…he can’t run so an option with him is pointless and he can’t throw a decent pass over 15 yards so defenses never have to back off and can crowd the line — hence all of our 4 yard swing passes or runs for 1-2 yards.

It takes tremendous effort and talent by Ray Graham to turn garbage into chicken salad…I haven’t seen a guy make more people miss for a three yard gain since Barry Sanders. With our wide receiver talent the past two years, even a decent QB would have chucked many more tds than Tino.

Comment by Matt N. 09.18.11 @ 5:18 pm

With Wannstedt we came to expect zero risks and no changes, but we brought Graham in to change that and his sticking with Tino despite substandard play is what infuriates Pitt fans now…and we have a right to be, given all the sorry losses we’ve endured lo these many years.

Comment by Matt N. 09.18.11 @ 5:22 pm

Scoring another TD is as good as or better than running time off the clock, and that approach has been successful in this style of offense for many teams. So, stop blaming the scheme and reverting back to Wanny-ball. Besides, you have to make first downs to run out the clock, and with our O-line there’s no way that we make them just running. Ray was stuffed all day. There were plenty of open receivers out there, but this offense requires a QB that can actually look off a defender once and a while and hit them, and be a running threat if the LBs drop into coverage (and avoid sacks). We clearly don’t have that on the field right now.

Having said that, though, the QB played well enough to win this game big. The defense lost this game – and nearly the last two – pure and simple. I don’t know if the defensive scheme is bad, but I do know that we weren’t any good in the secondary or at LB last year, so I can’t understand why anyone is surprised that we aren’t any better there this year. It’s the same players. DW recruited great D-linemen, but he didn’t get much anywhere else recenty. Until we get some more talent behind the D-line, the offense is going to have to outscore the opponents to make up for it. Given the state of our pass defense, it’s almost unfair to expect any QB to be able to do that.

Comment by Steve S 09.19.11 @ 9:49 am

Thank you Brett for analyzing the game and the aftermath exactly as it appeared on television. I have never in my fifty years of watching football seen a coach that appeared so out of his league. Everyone calling for the walk-on whose only reason for not being at a junior college is because Pitt’s QB coach who was fired at N. Texas State liked him because he was a QB on a high school team last year that ran same questionable offense. Does anyone really think a QB not recruited by any school has a stronger arm than Tino. The only reason he is here and God forbide may play is because of thee constant arrogance that our coach has continually displayed. The purpose of the spread offense is to spread out the defense horizontally. But if you do not have a QB that has the ability to stretcch the defense vertically the linebackers and secondary is a 11 man box – limiting Grahams running lanes. Anederson is no answer, Myers was recruited for his ability to throw and most reports are that he has the strong and accurate arm that earned him the 14 top quarterback in the nation coming out of high school. The spread offense does not necessarily require a running QB most of BCS schools play the spread without a running QB.What I saw Saturday the so called incredably sophisticated offense is more of Grahams defensive bullshit. Quick slants, screens, and moving pockets are not brain science. Play Myers to help Graham and provide a deep threat. Stop running every play so quickly so the defense can get a rest. Oklahoma does not use a huddle but they snap the ball at varying times affording their defense some rest in case they go 3 and out. With Pitt 3 and out is less than a minute off the clock.

Comment by DRW 09.19.11 @ 2:31 pm

I have, Dave Wannstedt at Chicago, Miami and Pitt!!! LMAO!!!

Comment by Dan 09.19.11 @ 5:12 pm

DRW – you continually predicate your arguments with the blind notion that Todd Graham is going to change his offense, which by the way, is predicated much more on the triple-option then it is on the spread.

Graham just isn’t going to do that. I’ll bet a dollar on it. This is why you see the QB put the ball into the RBs belly on every play, the options are to pull it out and throw or pull it out and run. Graham will never run a straight spread here, his whole success in his career has been the triple option. We’ve also seen it work pretty well so far – it isn’t the system that’s failing – it’s Sunseri utter inconsistency in it.

That’s why we are continually calling for Trey Anderson, because we feel he’ll be better in this offense than Myers would – especially when it’s a very long shot that the HC will play Myers for any meaningful minutes at all.

Have you ever seen Myers play? He has a strong arm but really isn’t the most accurate passer. His strength is the deep pass but I watched him throw INTs on short and intermediate passes in practice that were just poor throws. He just isn’t the savior you seem to think he’d be.

Just remember that Pat Bostick was a five star and nationally ranked #6 QB… would you want him in this offense? There are a lot of similarities in Bostick’s and Myers’ play.

Comment by Reed 09.19.11 @ 5:54 pm

Bostick had no arm at all and no athleticism either — other than that, he was terrific. Myers has a major arm and is pretty athletic…watch his high school compilation tape on youtube and I think you’ll agree he’s more mobile looking than Tino. Probably not as mobile as Anderson, who looked quick out there vs Maine…had a jump to his step that Tino clearly doesn’t, which is vital to keep defenses honest in that ‘system’.

Tino tries hard and probably is a decent kid, but we need to accept he’s shown us all he has and move on to another guy. No shame, that’s just sports — and if Anderson or Myers can’t do it, hold your nose and wait for next year with Voytik.

Comment by Matt N. 09.19.11 @ 10:54 pm

Let me say FIRST:
“You can’t spell IntercepTION without T-I-N-O.”

It’s time for Tino to step up as a captain and tell coach Graham that “I want this team to win, so please put Trey in for me.”

And Lastly:
When you have a 3 TD lead, its time to run the play clock down to “1” and snap the ball and hand it off to Ray Graham.

Thank you.

PS- Cam Saddler talks the BEST GAME on the team! He has shown me absolutely nothing for productivity every year he has been on this team. Thanks for nothing Cam!!! Let someone else start in the 3 WR set.

Comment by Professor77 09.20.11 @ 12:39 am

Right on Professor. Lost in all this ACC hype is the growing sense that Graham is actually going to start Tino v ND! Are you f’ing kidding me?! We are going to get our arses beat to a shameless degree, on national tv, again! Does Tino have to shoot someone and be led away by FBI agents to be benched?

I really wish now that I did go to some of those fall practices because either Graham is way more risk averse than advertised or Anderson and Myers must truly have sucked during camp. What else can we deduce? How come we got someone like Pete Gonzalez in Walt Harris’ first year — who I think broke Pitt’s all time td record for a season after those Johnny Majors train wreck seasons — to do so well despite such limited recruiting success through most of the 1990s? How much better was Gonzalez, or even David Priestly, than Tino? How is that progress? We deserve better than this crap.

Comment by Matt N. 09.20.11 @ 1:36 am

Matt N. – you completely missed my point.

I made the Bostick reference in response to DRW’s continually pointing to Myers’ four stars and Anderson’s walk-on status. The idea being that sometimes the recruiting site rankings don’t mean much… especially when you have such specific criteria for the position in this particular offense.

Mobility isn’t enough in this option. The QB has to be at least a threat to keep the ball on the option and run.

By the way… everyone who’s clamoring for Myer’s “big arm” should remember just what was being yelled by PITT fans during Bill Stull’s 2008 season… everyone and their brother wanted Sunseri to take over because his arm was “so much stronger than Stull’s”. Of course, we came to understand that arm strength is actually less a prerequisite for successful QB play then many other factors are.

That is especially true in this offense. Sunseri isn’t missing on those pass plays because of a lack of arm strength – his is just fine.

We’ve seen he can fling strong passes on the out patterns and on the deep balls…sometimes. We just haven’t seen a high percentage of success in his doing it. It’s his decision making, especially holding the ball too long, his field awareness and his lack of ability to hit receivers in stride that hold him back.

That’s why his great completion percentage is so misleading. He is continually indecisive so he is settling for the short dump pass and missing other and better opportunities. That’s why he’s actually pretty good at passing on called roll out plays – he has one target in mind and thus his decision making is taken out of the equation for the most part.

Comment by Reed 09.20.11 @ 5:28 am

[…] roared out to a 24-3 lead on Iowa, then blew it. This causes a reasonable blogger type to apologize in advance before ripping his quarterback a new […]

[…]  Last Saturday I wrote a pretty opinionated article on here about our QB play and the way I thought the HC should handle it in the future.  Well, nothing I […]

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