November 29, 2011

All QB Talk

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 3:41 pm

It’s hard to avoid it. Though, apparently Pitt is trying since Tino Sunseri was not made available to the media this week. Wonder why? Avoid yet another rehash of his WVU performance? His comments after the game where he admitted to getting flustered and also spoke of how younger players made some mistakes? Or, that whole Twitter “pro style football” comment?

The upshot is Chas Alexcih got to pop off just before his final home game. He was, uh, quotable. Apparently he really did not take a shine to Mike Haywood. The Pitt beat writers gave us some tidbits: “He was a jackass and it looked like he got his suit from Goodwill.”

And: ” “When he got fired, I was happy, that pri… ” (Hint: Rhymes with rick).”

It’s fun to be a senior. It’s almost like those final days of work after giving 2 weeks notice.

Needless to say Haywood did not make a good impression. Todd Graham was different.

“My first impression was he was confident in himself, he was real confident in the program,” Alecxih said. “(He) came in and said, ‘You had a great coach before (Dave Wannstedt), which we did, but we’re going to take this program to the next level. He told us he had a plan and we needed to trust him.”

The season has turned into a disappointment, but Alecxih said, “I have grown as a person and I feel like a lot of my teammates have grown as people.

“Things are going to be on the rise in the future, too. Watch out.”

Back to the QB stuff.

Yesterday in Coach Graham’s presser there were no surprises. While the support wasn’t unequivocal or unwavering, Coach Graham said that Sunseri would be the starting QB on the final home game on Saturday.

In light of the problems at the end of the West Virginia game, do you plan any changes at quarterback this week?

“No. We didn’t play very well down the stretch and didn’t play very well at the position. That is part of execution. Tino (Sunseri) is the guy who gives us the best chance to win. That’s what we have to work with, and we have to get better.”

What led to the team yielding nine sacks in the final 25 snaps against West Virginia after giving up one in the first 55?

Just taking sacks is what’s so frustrating. It’s a new problem. We haven’t had that problem in the past (at other schools). We just held the ball. Our offense is about throwing the ball on time. We absolutely are not executing. It seems like when we play ahead of people, we are OK. Anytime we have a situation where we have to make a drive to win, we have had zero success with that. Obviously, we haven’t been doing a very good job of teaching it. All we can do is work hard to get better, and it’s going to get better.”

[Emphasis added, as I choose to laugh rather than weep.]

I expected Coach Graham to name Sunseri the starter for the final game. It’s about winning the game and getting some bowl bid, and as bad as Sunseri is. He probably does give Pitt the best chance at the position. So, Mark Myers remains that tantalizingly unknown piece of chocolate.

That said, considering Zach Brown, Ronald Jones and Devin Street may not be available for the game, it is hard to say that having Myers play would have been considered a fair opportunity.

This could be the players unavailable for Saturday: Ray Graham, Zach Brown, Ronald Jones, Devin Street, Cam Saddler, Salath Williams, Chris Jacobson, Matt Rotheram, Jason Hendricks and Shane Gordon Kevin Adams (dismissed from team). It’s been a brutal season.

Now for the good news. It isn’t like Coach Graham is blind to the problems for 2012. Obviously he doesn’t want to endure another year of Sunseri any more than we do. Nor is he going to blindly hope that Chad Voytik can handle things immediately (nor just hand him the starting job).

Chris Dokish posted on it yesterday, and Paul Zeise confirms via Todd Graham, today that Pitt will try to bring in a one year QB. Like how Wisconsin brought in Russell Wilson, or Pitt was able to add Zach Brown. So, let the speculation run rampant.

to suggest that a QB that was not even selected for the first through third team all-conference (honorable mention)because he played in Texas and his team was 16-0 makes him a high school stud. After seeing him play 32% rating 1.64 yrds per completion,0TDs and 3 innt. for 32 yards confirms that every coach in America was wrong about a 5’10” lbs qb is a long stretch. To much to even consider anymore. Being honorable mention in a conference of means that he was the 4th best qb in a group of perhaps 15 high school teams is not an overwhelming endorsement. Look up the facts. In his conference, not state, not even division.

This does say that Myers far surpassed Anderson in H.s. despite his team losing one game.Even adressing this after seeing tiny play is crazy.

Comment by DRW 11.30.11 @ 9:51 pm

Pitt Stadium–great site lines; pathetic amenities: worse necessities. Plus it is gone. 4-ever. Sleeps with the fishes.

Want a 50,000 seat stadium in Oakland? Start a fire in south Oakland, get every one alive, donate 350 million for the site prep, engineering studies , etc….figure out how to grandfather parking slot requirements from 1850 into the present day and Voila, you have a stadium.

Pitt needs, craves a core group of people who know how to manage a college athletic department. SP has risen to the level of his incompetence. The really important task is looking for the new AD. Someone with vision, balls and a really thick skin.
That person is NOT on staff in the current athletic department.

Comment by SFPitt 12.01.11 @ 2:02 am

dhuff, once again, why in the world would tg lie about the other qbs? is he trying to lose? no. is he trying to get fired? no. so why is it so hard to believe that Tino is the best option? anderson played an sucked worse than Tino Meyers play 1. right to a defender. why the he’ll r u so ignorant?! tg is not trying to fuckin lose! have u seen how frustrated he is? he wants to play Tino less than u but he’s the best option

Comment by pk 12.01.11 @ 6:49 am

DRW – back to the old saw again, eh?

If you are cherry picking rankings then there is this for Myers: two stars and 102nd best QB of his HS year. Recruit ranking and awards are all over the board for every player. Myers averaged out to exactly the same sort of ranking Sunseri had when he was a senior.

I’d love to see Myers play this week and we may if Sunseri bombs in the 1st half, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

But we fans have no real idea how well a kid does, after the camps close, in weekly practices and scrimmages that are closed to the public, in meetings and in the film room… all of that goes into who starts and who is selected in the two deep. If you are out of the two-deep and you don’t get reps for Saturdays.

There have been more than a few people who have watched Myers in practice and aren’t surprised that he hasn’t play, and have stated so in this blog and others, message boards and in the local media.

Graham may have made the mistake of his life in not playing Myers and if he did it would be because he erred in his judgement of talent that fits what he wants out there and in the future. I don’t buy that there would be any other reason for it, certainly not that it would have been an embarrassment had someone else done well.

After all, that same ’embarrassment’ scenario could have played out with both Anderson or Jones playing better than Sunseri also – not just with Myers.

Here is a fact: Graham has had his back-up QBs execute 53 plays were they either threw the ball or ran it themselves. Not 53 snaps total but 53 plays where they were the focus of the play. Compare that to last season when Wannstedt had his only other QB who played, Bostick, do that 11 times. Graham hasn’t been slow to get other QBs out there.

So, Sunseri played just as poorly last season as he has this year – there were certainly times when he should have been yanked and Myers was right there on the sideline able to go in if needed… after all, he played that exact same pro offense in HS and, as you Myers fans believe, possessed all those wonderful skills to succeed. It wasn’t as if PITT was winning games easily either, as a matter of fact at this point last year we were 6-5 and desperate to get a BCS game – only one game different then what we are now.

Yet DW or Cignetti didn’t look his way once. Wonder why that was? Head Coaches burn redshirts all the time and DW had done so in the past with his QBs and many other players… so why didn’t he do that last year when our season, and our QB play, was the same as this year? Well, because he believed that Sunseri gave him the best chance of winning each game and that Myers didn’t. It isn’t a new concept.

Can you understand that maybe, perhaps, possibly both DW and Cignetti didn’t think Myers was good enough to put in over what they had? If there was ever a time for Myers to play it would have been in that 2010 pro style offense. That was exactly what he was recruited for. Spare me the ‘inexperienced’ angle also… if anything Myers is even more inexperienced in this offense then he was in DW’s last year. But DW did exactly the same thing Graham is doing this season in sticking with his starting QB… and I don’t remember screams coming from you or many other fans then.

The bottom line is that he isn’t the superstar you seem to think he is and that two different coaching staffs have made, in essence, exactly same decision.

Comment by Reed 12.01.11 @ 7:19 am

Are you guys sending these ideas over to steveie P about what to do about making Heinz better. Winning number one of course but y’all have some other good ideas that I would think are very reasonable and easy for Pitt to do in order to improve the game day atmosphere and experience for the hard core and casual fan. HTP.

Comment by TX Panther 12.01.11 @ 7:21 am

pk, you missed the point of the post. TG has stated from day one that his system takes three years to grasp. Tino Sunseri had two years of eligibility. Why waste your time with someone who can’t grasp the system and waste the learning opportunity for three other Freshman players?
The second point was that although Anderson had some spot duty in a game, I will guarantee you that he did not practice the entire week with the first team players. That my friends is giving people an opportunity to perform their best. Practicing with and against the scout team is much different than practicing with the 1’s.

I did not say that TG wants to lose. What I am saying is that he has protected himself from scrutiny by playing a terrible QB and being in the exact same position next year. We will never know how the young QB’s would have performed in game situations during this lost year. Every coach will tell you is that the best thing about freshman, is that they become sophomores. They know it is a process. The problem I have with TG is that he says it takes three years to learn his process and he sticks with somebody who only has two years of eligibility. That is just mathematics, not hate or disdain.

I would rather go into next year knowing we tried and failed with three properly prepared QB’s, then with three without experience and a fourth on the way, just to sit behind Tino again. I hope I am wrong, but in my third year of seventh grade, i did learn that 2 is less than 3. TG does get a pass this year, my final point is that he is hitching his tenure on a qb that doesn’t get it and is not liked by his own team. Next year is not the time to say we have four qb’s that aren’t ready. It would have been easier on his tenure if he would have prepared and played each of the qb’s this year and been able to say he evaluated the film on each and they stink, or they are projects, or they are good, etc. Game film doesn’t lie. Unfortunately we don’t have any on these qb’s after a solid week of preparation with the 1’s. To call me names, isn’t polite. I have fired more people than most in a career and the excuses run the gamut. However, when there is objective evidence presented that shows why the results are terrible, more time is warranted. TG just played this year completely wrong in my opinion. This was a sacrifice year and a learning process and right now, we have only learned that one qb doesn’t perform when he gets to prepare with the 1’s each day.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.01.11 @ 2:16 pm

Arizona Board of Regents just approved RichRod’s contract. 5 years, $9.5 million. $1.9 million a year. Wasn’t someone talking about UofA’s deep pockets the other day?

That $2.1 million a year less than Urban Meyer has to sting a little.

Comment by cnorwoodaz 12.01.11 @ 6:20 pm

If its in fact true that Tino “gives us the best chance to win”, then they need to burn Meyers’ jersey and tell him to try out for the baseball team. If its true Tino is more of a winner than Meyers, Ohio high school football must truly suck these days (regardless of your precious ‘system’ that must be served only by the ABSOLUTELY appropriate QB type at all costs — namely, a 5-6 hugely disappointing season).

However, have any of you considered that this might not be true (‘What!!! Someone isn’t telling the truth…surely you jest, sir?!’)? Did you consider that Graham may have an agenda and/or may have a personal dislike or ax to grind here? ‘What, coaches don’t do this….are you kidding…coaches are always good people and always tell the truth!!??’

Silliness aside, seriously, coaches are people too and some people in this world are not purely objective and justice oriented…amazingly enough, huh?

I actually liked what I saw from Anderson early on, until his last game, when apparently his wrist was bothering him. He moved very well and had a pretty live arm, looked energized out there.

If he can’t recover, no need protecting Voytik, throw him in the ring and see if he’s as good as advertised. Michigan started both Chad Henne and Tate Forcier as true freshmen this decade…good enough for Michigan, should be good enough for Pitt.

By the way, somebody missed my point about Brady Hoke…it wasn’t that Robinson was so good…it actually was that he isn’t a very good passer, so Hoke adjusted his own desires for a more pro-style passing attack and changed his plans to accomodate Robinson’s running skills, which are far better than his passing accuracy downfield.

If he had Andrew Luck or Geno Smith, then your point would have made sense…Robinson ain’t in that category and may be switched to slot back/wr next year if Michigan can get a good passing QB…keep your eye on it.

Comment by Matt N. 12.01.11 @ 7:07 pm

Matt – I’d love to see and have advocated a complete open competition at QB next spring. That is why I think that even E.J. Banks may get thrown into the ring.

You miss a lot of points also. You’ll believe that there is some sort of misdirection and lying going on by the HC rather then be willing to admit that Myers just hasn’t played well enough to unseat anyone else on the QB roster. That is strange to me.

If you read what has been talked about and written about Myers’ situation from spring camp onward from the staff, sportswriters and people who have watched practices… and if you can read between the lines at all… you’d realize that Myers just has not grasped Graham’s offense. He doesn’t know it well enough to lead it. That is why he isn’t seeing the field pure and simple. He didn’t prepare since he got the playbook during the offseason and didn’t put 100% effort into learning it well enough to play during spring practices or up until now.

During the camps and practices he throws a lot of INTs and misreads the plays because of this. When I stated above the “All in all I’d say that Myers passing skills are a bit better than Sunseri’s but the other aspects of playing QB, including command of the offense, fell short.” This is what I meant.

Dean Kovacevic of the Trib writes just this morning: “Yes, Tino Sunseri’s work at quarterback has been terrible. But Graham took over too late to recruit his own guy, and there never was a viable internal replacement. Trey Anderson, a 5-foot-11 walk-on, flopped when Graham desperately turned to him. Freshman Mark Myers still lacks the maturity to run a no-huddle.”

Read more: Kovacevic: Unfair to bury Pitt’s Graham – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review link to

The only consistent positive statement from anyone about Myers is that “he has a strong arm”.

Look at what Paul Zeise reports this morning also. The staff has been working Gonzalez at the wildcat position for the last two weeks. Ronald Jones was put in before Myers to take snaps at QB – and to throw a pass – earlier. In essence, Graham and staff is more willing to go to the Wildcat offense and basically abandon the passing game for all intents and purposes before they are willing to trust Myers to execute out there.

When the staff was saying that Myers was ‘practicing better’ two weeks ago that meant they were confident that he could handle one or two play packages as a change of pace, not go in to play QB for the game, even in relief. Hence the wildcat.

This isn’t my opinion only but has been gingerly talked about all season. Myers has fleeted up to second string in spurts because of an arrest and a wrist injury. Not once has his actual performance warranted his jumping over others into the two-deep. This is why, since summer camp, I had been posting articles here in which I said that the only way Myers was going to see the field for any length of time was through serious injuries to other QBs or with a complete meltdown from the others.

Well, we’ve had both a meltdown (Sunseri) and injuries (Anderson) and still Myers didn’t get the nod. There is a reason for that.

The fact is that Myers isn’t the player PITT fans want him to be and he himself just hasn’t done what he has needed to do to get put into the games.

This is sports, it happens.

Comment by Reed 12.02.11 @ 7:15 am

Reed, your ‘system’ is 5-6 and has choked worse than any college team in recent memory — in all of its losses. Saying Meyers isn’t ready to QB this team is like saying the Titanic’s first mate wasn’t ready to take the helm…yeah, I guess not.

I’ve missed very few if any points…I just don’t agree with your, and others, view that Graham’s ‘system’ is unquestionably right and must be slavishly adhered to. I guess you’d rather lose doing it your way than win doing it someone elses? Not uncommon.

I’m system neutral — whatever gets the W’s…and losing 6 games we clearly should have won on a soft schedule means you change, not stubbornly continue to stuff square pegs into round holes.

Meyers may not be the guy but we DON’T know until he gets pt…practice ain’t the same. Go get a juco kid or 5th year guy next year to compete with Voytik and whoever else…but sticking with Tino because you’re afraid or to proud to change is not acceptable — especially if you’re making $2M very large a year.

Go ahead and repeat your argument to me a few more dozen times like you’ve done all year…it really helps to make your point.

Comment by Matt N. 12.02.11 @ 12:14 pm

Matt N.

We all get it. We, as fans, have not seen Myers play. We don’t know how good or bad he could be. He is the unknown.

Tino we know. Tino we have come to abhor on the field. At his best he is a mediocre QB unable to throw accurately 15+ yards down field for more than 10% of the time — which so shocks the WRs when it happens that they drop those passes. It is hard to imagine anyone worse.

No one is saying Graham’s system is purely right. It is the system he runs, however. You can be as system neutral as you want, but a coach is not and cannot. They will use what they like and what they are comfortable with doing.

I would no more expect Graham and Magee to try and run the pro-style offense than I would a Wannstedt/Cignetti offense to try and go spread. You can incorporate aspects, but not go to a system you don’t use.

Like it or not it was a transition. Yes, Pitt lost more games than it should. Just as other teams in a transition have won more than they should. Go back to the transition from Walt Harris’ pass-first West Coast style to the traditional, run-first pro-set of Wannstedt/Cavanaugh. That was a more subtle transition, but it still was painful.

You can’t avoid transition. How would you do it? Put it off a year? Try and recruit kids for the new style while they see you running the old way?

Comment by Chas 12.02.11 @ 12:39 pm

Chas, that’s my fundamental point…you can, and many coaches do, decide to change your system…all this pain and frustration was easily avoided. Pitt has talented kids and should have won 9-10 games this year, and probably gone undefeated given how soft the schedule was.

Why do coaches like Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel, Brady Hoke, Jackie Sherril, Bob Stoops…on and on and on…win right away and continue to win? Because they check their ego at the door and figure out what kids and what system wins…now, today, right this game! They don’t whine about not having ‘their’ guys in place and say ‘give me 2-3 years’.

Walt Harris inherited a piss poor team and looked at who was good and what would work — put seldom used Pete Gonzalez at the helm, the kid had a great year and Pitt went from national embarrassment in ’96 to highly respectable in ’97…with the same kids.

This argument will go on and on with you, me, and Reed because they are fundamentally different ways of approaching life…adjusting on the fly versus stay the course. Pitt hasn’t had a really good team in three decades so I think you guys have quietly given up hope over the years and lowered your standards…too bad.

If Voytik is the second coming of Steve Young and operates Graham’s ultimate system perfectly, fabulous, I’ll be psyched and cheer his success along with the rest of you — but he ain’t here this year and Graham threw a promising year away.

I would have stood with him if he had benched Tino and started either Jones or Gonzalez after the ND game…at least that would have shown willingness to change and courage.

Comment by Matt N. 12.02.11 @ 2:01 pm

Matt N.,

“Why do coaches like Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel, Brady Hoke, Jackie Sherril, Bob Stoops…on and on and on…win right away and continue to win?”

It’s the talent, stupid. You are talking coaches who went to high-profile, big time places with good talent already on-hand.

And honestly, Jackie Sherrill? After Pitt, he went to two places where he won initially and went downhill after that and left messes behind.

Brady Hoke went from Ball State to SDSU. At SDSU he doubled that win total in his first year. From 2-10 to 4-8. Talent makes the biggest difference.

I have great affection for Walt Harris. I was at the 97 Brawl and enjoyed the hell out of that season, but keep perspective. He took a 4-7 from 1996 to 6-6. It is important to remember, though, that the following year the team lost most of what talent that was there and dropped to 2-9.

And honestly, fuck you if you think I have my standards lowered and given up hope.

This was a decently talented team in a weak conference, with that talent predominantly on one side of the ball. Aside from Ray Graham and probably Lucas Nix, can you name another player on the offense sure to be drafted into the NFL? Now, I think the defense is loaded with talented players, but that’s only one side of the ball. Add in the volume of injuries to that side, and the offense looks even weaker from talent and depth.

What you want is a change for the sake of change to satisfy you. You want to see Myers for yourself. You want it proved to you without any doubt. So do many others. Who cares if the coaches haven’t seen anything from him up until now that would justify putting him in? Make the change because it isn’t Sunseri. But that isn’t adjusting. That’s giving up and throwing shit on the wall to see what sticks.

Oh, and fuck you for putting me in a position of defending Sunseri.

Comment by Chas 12.02.11 @ 2:50 pm

Ah, the real Chas-y comes to the fore…way to go guy…way to keep the blog classy.

Agreed and disagreed with many folk on this blog and others but never had anyone say “fuck you” to me twice ’cause they couldn’t shove their opinion down someone else’s throat.

How very impressive you are…I’m sure your mother would be proud. You want to say that sh$t to my face?

Comment by Matt N. 12.02.11 @ 4:36 pm

I always have to laugh when the old “low standards” phrase gets trotted out.

From where I stand, if you think your standards have anything at all to do with a football team or a coaching staff that you yourself have absolutely no control over then, well then… the world must revolve around you.

It’s a tawdry move to point fingers at other people just because you aren’t happy about something.

Comment by Reed 12.02.11 @ 5:05 pm

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