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August 29, 2012

Everybody Has to Parse Sunseri

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 11:32 am

At some point, Tino Sunseri will just decide not to speak about anything, ever. It just is not worth it for him.

Ever since Fraud Graham fled, Sunseri has avoided taking even the smallest pot shots at the guy. This, despite, being the public whipping boy for Graham (and most Pitt fans) all of last year. He showed incredible restraint, and just seemed happy to put the whole season behind him.

Finally, though, he said something.

Asked to compare coach Paul Chryst’s offense to what Graham installed last year, Sunseri said, “It compares from a high school offense to a pro-style college offense.”

He also contrasted the various complexities that players must learn this season.

“Last year, there weren’t a lot of plays, there weren’t lot of different formations, there weren’t a lot of different motions,” he said. “This offense, it’s coming from making sure you understand shifts and motions and making sure you understand different routes and converting versus different coverages. Guys had to make sure they got in their playbooks, which they did.”

Reminded of the absence of much fanfare this season, Sunseri said Chryst’s approach is different.

“I feel like Coach Chryst has done a great job of just going to work,” he said. “You know what I mean? He’s not here to do shows. He’s not here (to hang) signs. He’s not here to make people laugh or giggle. He’s here to win football games.”

I have some mixed feelings here.

I could care less about the shots at Graham at this point. They are obvious, but also seem to be a bit after the fact to come as the season is just about ready to start.

I will say that part of what Graham was expected to do was try and re-energize the fanbase in the first year. The style may have grated, been disingenuous and too much about himself; but Graham was supposed to be selling football.

As for the simplicity of the offense from last year. There’s nothing inherently wrong with simple. Especially with a complete change to the offense. You want to keep it basic. The concepts of the Air Raid offense that Mike Leach and his acolytes preach are relatively simple for the team. The stress is instead on the repetitions, and practice to get it right. There at least seems to be the implication that the offense didn’t buy-in last year, because it seemed so basic that they didn’t have to work at it. Which would explain some more of the problems with the WRs who have admitted not enjoying getting to a spot rather than a route.

It’s obvious Sunseri is more comfortable in a pro-style offense, but, uh, we knew that last year.

I don’t know if it is, much like his play, everything with Sunseri is so hyper-scrutinized after the past year, or something else. Like, how after a good game when Sunseri was feeling his oats and got a little too confident in talking — there was the noticeable lack of consistency the next game.

So, now I’m terrified for how he will do in the first couple of games. That he will be too cocky that all is right in a system he likes and the same problems that plagued him — regardless of the system — will be as present as ever.

It does, however, seem that he has learned a little.

When he was asked if he feels like he has more support this year, Sunseri said: “I have support from my teammates. That’s all that matters.”

I’m not sure how to take that one. I asked the question and was looking to get a response that Chryst might have his back more, but Sunseri left it open to interpretation. Maybe he learned a lesson last year. He knows he has to perform well on Saturdays to get the full support of the coaching staff.

Or he’s reached the naturally cynical point where he’s just going to wait and see how Coach Chryst talks about position play after a bad game.

Gameday can’t come soon enough.


Tino doesn’t need to say anything. He needs silence everybody with his play on the field.

Comment by Snala The Panther 08.29.12 @ 11:39 am

Amen Snala. That’s the plain and simple bottom line. Perform.

Comment by Pitt it IS 08.29.12 @ 11:50 am

Sadly, as most people seem to think otherwise, this isn’t the first time Tino took a punkish shot at Graham — he tweeted that snarky comment last season about Alabama being good because they run a pro-style — if they even did? — versus the implied Graham spread (or whatever). This was pathetic for obvious reasons (yet more excuses from Tino) and laughable, as if Alabama would want Tino at QB.

No value in sugar coating it anymore and it’s not hard to figure — the kid needs to grow up, plain and simple, and no mystery why Chryst blew up at him and silenced camp in the process. I hope he performs well, but remember how great he was in 2010? How many flutter bombs and hopelessly ill-timed throws did he launch in the vague vicinity of Jon Baldwin that year…or to other guys. There has been so much talk about returning him to his comfort zone…which I’m very eager to see get established if it exists.

Comment by Matt N. 08.29.12 @ 11:53 am

I agree that T. Graham had two jobs: sell football to a discouraged fanbase and coach the football team.

He didn’t do either adequately.

First, he turned out to be a lousy coach. Since Chas invited the comparison, Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense works because he coaches it well. He gets his players to buy into it. T. Graham’s system failed either because it was a “high school” system or because he could not coach it. Either way, he failed as a football coach.

T. Graham did not succeed in selling football to the fanbase. He tried. He talked a lot. But in the end, people left after half time or chose not to go. That is because his team was underachieving. His team underachieved because it played a “high school” or because he failed as a coach to implement it.

Comment by A 08.29.12 @ 12:10 pm

Graham’s offense lacked sufficient o-line schemes/blitz pick-ups and had zero check down options for the QBs.

Mike Norvell is not Gus Malzahn or Chad Morris. Check out Graham’s record with Malzahn/Morris calling plays opposed to Herb Hand/Norvell.

Comment by srb 08.29.12 @ 12:21 pm

I can not wait until next year when the Tino era will be over. It is hard to believe we have had such mediocre play at qb for so long.
Reminds me of Miami Hurricanes before Jim Kelly.

Comment by Jimbo 08.29.12 @ 1:03 pm

good point srb. A telling stat is how the offense got progressively worse in every game — usually a sign of a lack of in-the-game adjustments

Comment by wbb 08.29.12 @ 1:03 pm

graham began to lose me w/ the decision to punt on 4th and 2 from buffalo’s 37 yd line. real aggressive/high octane/hammer down stuff,huh? watching the iowa 4th qtr meltdown in person sealed the deal.

Comment by scott 08.29.12 @ 1:22 pm

My point is that Tino isn’t necessarily wrong about T. Graham, his “high school” system, or the stupid signs. It didn’t work and he is right to point that out. Not only did people not show up to Heinz, but the system didn’t work.

People are plenty excited about Chryst and he isn’t about the talk or signs. I think Tino is entitled to criticize T. Graham and, if he plays well this year, may be vindicated and make all of us who have blamed him in the past look like idiots. We will see.

Comment by A 08.29.12 @ 1:41 pm

What are the uniform selections for Saturday? This will determine wether I turn to Gin or Scotch.

Comment by Pitt it IS 08.29.12 @ 2:04 pm

I agree with srb and not Tino. Graham isn’t a good enough coach to implement the spread offense without a really good offensive coordinator. The spread is designed to give a team without great talent a chance against a team with superior talent. If Graham had brought Malzahn or Morris with him last year he would still have been a jerk but would have won several more games even with Tino at QB.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.29.12 @ 2:12 pm

Houston P is on to something. The fraud’s best year was when he had Gus Malzahn as his OC. To hell with him; he’s ASUs problem now. As for Tino, I’m not a believer but I would happily eat crow if it means we’re winning games.

Comment by Pittastic 08.29.12 @ 2:19 pm

Chas, I’m disappointed with you. It is an absolute requirement on this blog, that we take all available shots at Todd Graham! I have absolutely no problem with Tino taking an open shot at his former coach. After all Todd “High Octaine” Graham didn’t seem to have any reservations when he through Tino under the bus.

Comment by Justinian 08.29.12 @ 2:40 pm

Scott, Thank you for remeinding us about the Iowa game. Who in world continues to run a hurry up offence when they’re up by 3 touchdowns. I guess we deserved to lose that one, on sheer stupidity.

Comment by Justinian 08.29.12 @ 2:44 pm

Chryst and I believe in the same thing…RESULTS!
That’s all that counts….hear that Tino!

Comment by Dan 72 08.29.12 @ 2:51 pm

Didn’t TG have to dumb down that HS offense and not give the qb more than he could handle. That similar offense has WVU with lower recruiting classes than Pitt ranked what 12th. Tino needs to keep quiet and play football.

He also said that he developed chemistry with Shanahan and street over the summer. He has only been there 5 yerars with Shanahan and what 2 or 3 with Street.

Comment by JP 08.29.12 @ 2:57 pm

Tino is kinda right by calling Graham’s spread a HS offense..
Anybody watch some of the HS games on ESPN lately.
I watched the Byrne(SC) game… spread, no-huddle, look to the sidelines for signs, signals etc…

But… ask NFL coaches… they have a hard time selecting players that played in a spread in college… so if you have NFL aspirations, you are better off in a pro style offense in college.

Comment by Joe D 08.29.12 @ 3:17 pm

JP, just another example of Fraud deferring any blame from him to his QB. The fact is that even know the offense may have been dumbed down … in addition to Tino’s problems, it was acknowledged that the receivers continually ran the wrong routes, but even more important, how many times last season did our OL not even lay a hand on a defender who rushed unabated? It was commonplace.

The entire offense was out of sorts

Comment by wbb 08.29.12 @ 4:04 pm

Joe D, I agree with you. If I were a talented player with pro aspirations, I certainly would want to play in pro-style offence. People forget under Sherrill, Dan Marino was running a pro offence and calling audibles. He was way ahead of John Elway, when he entered the NFL. It took Elway several years to get where Dan Marino was.

Comment by Justinian 08.29.12 @ 4:25 pm

Tino needs to be quiet and not give any more reasons for fans to come down on him. Its not like he has earned the media’s, fans’ or coaches’ respect with his play. He needs to be a man and let his play do his talking for him. Talk is cheap so do it on the field…

Comment by Kenny 08.29.12 @ 4:46 pm

This entire thread is kind of ridiculess.


1) Sunseri was asked a direct question and he responded with his OPINION in answering said question.

2) Graham installed a no huddle, quick draw, spread type offensive system last year.

3) Chryst is in the process of installing a Pro set style offense this season.

4) Sunseri gave his opinion between the two systems when asked that direct question.

Now last time I checked, the USA is still a free country and we still enjoy the liberty of free speech. None of us seem to have a problem in expressing our own OPINIONS on any and everything associated with college football on this blog without the fear that our very essence of our beings will be disected and examined every single time we express said opinions.

Sunseri should be extended the same opportunity to express his opinions as well, especially when asked for it from the media.

Now he could have expressed much more by stating much less. Maybe a simple sentence could have summed it up nicely with just a knowing grin and a wink to conclude the answer, such as “that simply would NOT be a fair comparision” end quote, smile and wink.

Oh, I forgot one final FACT, Todd Graham proved, he is a FRAUD.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.29.12 @ 5:17 pm

Wbb they just said the WR did not have routes to run last year so how can you say thet ran the wrong routes .
they were just to find a open spot on the field and it was up to tino to find them then right.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.29.12 @ 5:27 pm

I’ll give Tino one last chance to prove that he isn’t a Turd. Graham has proven time over time that he is a Fraud. How did Pitt (and me) get snookered?

Comment by TX Panther 08.29.12 @ 5:35 pm

Tino can’t win. People on here have spent months and months ripping on Todd Graham. But as soon as Tino says something about his former coach who he had to deal with on a day to day basis it it is unacceptable. The amount of hate and bias against Tino is getting absurd in my opinion.

Comment by Wardapalooza 08.29.12 @ 5:53 pm

I am all for running a pro style offense if you have pro style players or if PC can coach them up to pro style standards. The problem DW had was he tried to run a pro style offense without pro type players and wasn’t able to coach them up or make decisions on game day. With the spread you just need speed, speed and more speed and you can compete without the best athletes.

Hoping for the best and hope Tino is adequate.

Comment by JP 08.29.12 @ 6:00 pm

Dr. Tom, I absolutely agree with your comments, especially the smile and a wink part. Of course having high level pr skills wasn’t required of a starting d1 quarterback last time I checked so you are certainly right to give the kid a pass on the way he answers a question. To paraphrase you, just win baby is all the pr speaking skills he needs.

Comment by opfim 08.29.12 @ 6:01 pm

Agee with Dr. Tom and as maligned as Tino has been (and I’ve done some maligning) it’s the guy’s senior year, lets give him the benefit of the doubt and pull for him, at least until he proves us wrong.


Comment by The Atlanta Panther 08.29.12 @ 6:34 pm

Tino is allowed to say what he wants to say. That is true.

But he’s probably better served by staying quiet.

There’s a couple problems with him (and other players, for that matter) opening their mouths on this issue:

1. Tino was at best mediocre in a pro-style offense in 2010. If he was at least average Pitt does better than 7-5 that season.

And also, Tino didn’t get better as the season went on. He peaked at the Rutgers game (#7) and then declined; wasn’t he something like 9 of 19 for 120 yards in the bowl game against a crappy Kentucky team? Looks like an offense that doesn’t improve as the season goes on wasn’t a problem that just Fraud Graham had.

(note: Tino did run for about 60 yards in that game)

2. By putting a lot of the blame on Fraud for last years problems, Pitt players – plus the fans and the media – are putting a lot of pressure on the team.

Because if they go 7-5 (which, amazingly some fans here think is acceptable, since that is the equivalent of 5-7 last year) or worse, then it looks like Fraud Graham WASN’T the problem (especially if he is doing well at Arizona State).

And unfortunately, we know how well Tino and the rest of this team has fared in pressure situations over the years.

Comment by originalether 08.29.12 @ 7:12 pm

too little too late, he still sucks! no matter what he does, i can’t wait for him to go. my walls have more personality and passion than he does. turn the page and move on

Comment by pittisit37 08.29.12 @ 8:10 pm

On the Eve of another season of Pitt football, the last one before venturing into the unknown waters of the ACC, nothing would make me happier than Tino proving to all, with his actions, that us Tino detracters are all full of $hit regarding his QB potential in his 5th year senior redshirt year.

It’s a win lose situation for me personally because I am on record for being a Sunseri basher and petitioning for somebody, anybody to replace him. But in this situation I would gladly humble myself for the betterment of the team and a final BE outright championship.

Man, am I hoping that Tino makes me look like a total blowhard that has no idea of that which I speak. Because if that occurs, it means that Pitt Football is having a fantasic season. And you know what,that’s just fine with me, I’ll be glad to take one for the team.


Comment by Dr. Tom 08.29.12 @ 8:11 pm

IF and as you can see it is a bit IF, Tino plays better and helps this team become a good team this year I will give him kudos. Thus far he has been a liability to this team and just barely adequate. He needs to act like a man and let his play do his talking.

What he said about Graham is no different than what he said to PC which brought coach’s thunder down on him. He was trying to make an excuse to PC and his answers in respect to TG was an excuse for his play last year.

Like I said he needs to do it on the field but at the same time quit trying to make excuses for his play.

Comment by Kenny 08.29.12 @ 8:31 pm

Dr tom, this is where people get confused. Yes, people can say whatever they want, but heres the catch… that doesnt mean there arent consequences. If i went into work and said ” boss is a so on so forth blah blah cuss cuss”, i have the right to say that. But my boss can also fire me.

People need to give tino a break. Does he deserve criticism? Yea cuz last year he was awful, but when people boo a college student-athlete just for being put in the game… Thats discraceful. Some people act like tino is the only reason pitt hasnt been ultra successful. Hes a part, but not the sole factor

Comment by Pk 08.29.12 @ 9:04 pm

I can’t even comment on this. If Tino does well, he gets cocky and the argument will be that he was always this good. If he does poorly, he argues that it is another system change. The problem with either premise is that we have a qb that is not a leader, is not mature, and looks to point the finger first instead of just saying “I wasn’t good enough”.

Saying I am not good enough is an acceptable answer and is not his fault. If he plays,that means the coaches think he is the best “win” option. It is not his fault that he is not great. He keeps playing because he is better than what we have right now. I do expect our true freshman qb to get some playing time in every game and take over full time by game seven.

Pitt is not going undefeated this year so it is best to get the freshman so meaningful snaps because although everyone is annointing Savage as a starter for next year, he still hasn’t proven himself either. That is why we compete. I would rather know this year if ourfreshman qb has what it takes to be great, or whether he will just be serviceable as a D1 QB.

I think we all need to remember that when he came out of high school his highest rank was 23rd and some of that was based off his being a coaches and players son, somewhat like cliff stoudt’s kid. Tino didn’t get better and neither did Stoudt’s boy. Nuff said. Ohhh, and for giggles, take a look at the Scout top 30 QB’s for 2008 and see how many names you recognize or had any success. You might know 5 names.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.29.12 @ 9:21 pm

I’m sorry to have to change the subject, but if you read this FBI file it’s easy to see Paterno’s abject hate of Pitt:

link to

My intense dislike of him all these years is now vindicated

Comment by steve1 08.29.12 @ 9:29 pm


Comment by PittofDreams 08.29.12 @ 9:33 pm

It’s very easy to take potshots at Graham. But the bottom line is; the 2011 Panthers lost 4 games by a total of what was it…..12 points.

The team did not deliver in the clutch and most of the time (90%) it was the offense that was the culprit.

And dare I say who runs an offense ? That’s right the QB.

Funny thing Urban Meyer is bringing the Spread to Columbus to transform a lumbering conference into something more fun to watch and to be able to compete against the more speedy SEC, Big 12 and yes even the PAC 12 (14). I can’t keep track of these conferences anymore and how many teams they have in them in a given year.

And we certainly understand that a Spread offense can’t function with a lousy QB. Perhaps we should go to the Wishbone. haha 🙂

Comment by Emel 08.30.12 @ 3:20 am

After reading parts of that FBI file, it would have been great if Wanny would have still been at PITT when Paterno was forced out. He would have left knowing that PITT was being coached by a guy who wasn’t going anywhere and that PITT ( a place he obviously despised) was in a stabilized condition and his beloved Creepy Valley wasn’t.

That would have tore him up !!

Another thing and a once in a lifetime opportunity Smiley f*cked up.

Comment by Emel 08.30.12 @ 3:57 am

Man, am I hoping that Tino makes me look like a total blowhard that has no idea of that which I speak. Because if that occurs, it means that Pitt Football is having a fantasic season. And you know what,that’s just fine with me, I’ll be glad to take one for the team.


Comment by Dr. Tom 08.29.12 @ 8:11 pm

I second that statement Doc. You and I can be the blog blowhards, just get us to the Orange Bowl. I’ll join you for some crow dinner and wine ! 🙂

Pre-dinner drinks on me !

Veritas et Virtus

Comment by Emel 08.30.12 @ 4:02 am

Chas, you took the bait. Tino is a lightning rod for all negatives on Pitt football. This time it is ole Flat Top Todd.
I don’t recall anyone taking Tags to the woodshed for unflattering comments he made about Flat Top. But when Tino says anything, it is hyper-scrutinized.
I really don’t care what Tino says or thinks and if he wants to take shots at his former coach who quite publicly eviscerated his play, well, I understand that too.
Others have said it here…the quality of his play is what matters most to me. What he thinks and says about Flat Top is his business. Don’t like it? Don’t ask.

Comment by SFPitt 08.30.12 @ 4:14 am

All I know is that the axiom “the QB gets too much credit for a win and too much blame for a loss” was violated last season as Tino’s performance against UConn where he passed for 419 yards was deemed as ‘average’ and he sure didn’t get much credit for any other win

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 7:42 am

SFPitt – you are correct and that anti-Graham sentiment was echoed by numerous other players also.

Comment by Reed 08.30.12 @ 8:24 am

@ dhuffdaddy, I feel the same way you do about Voytik, reshirt him? WTF for? So we can have no QB on the roster that has had serious playing time in a Pitt uniform when we enter the ACC next year? If Voytik shows that he can carry the load, then I say “get him in the game”. Oh, and by the way, I’m hoping that Sunseri gets as cocky as hell this season because per your assessment that will mean he is finally showing up for some games and bringing home the “W”. I’d like to see what a win from behind actually looks like with Tino at the helm. I’ve been waiting for like 2 years, still hasn’t happened.

@ Emel, great minds think alike. Just cause I’ve been a Tino hater in the past doesn’t mean that I won’t be glad to ride his ass all the way to a BCS bowl. Could happen, if they take my advice and start him on the valium Rx I’ve previously suggested. Something has to work, so he can stand up to the pressure when the game is on the line.

Just so many variables that are going to interact this year for the Panthers. Really, we could realistically be any where from 3-9 to 9-3 by season’s end. Thats why they play the games. We’ll start to figure it out for real in about two days.


Comment by Dr. Tom 08.30.12 @ 8:48 am

Obvious from Rudy’s recent presser that the staff intends to do their best to keep Tino in positive situations & “playing w/in himself.” PC will be calling the plays & i hope this staff manages the game well. Can not wait until saturday. HAIL TO PITT !

Comment by DC33 08.30.12 @ 9:07 am

Todd Graham is a snake oil salesman and always will be. Pitt, being desperate, bought into Graham’s “high octane” offense. We know the results of Graham’s fraudulent coaching style. Now it’s time for Pitt football to settle down and build a foundation for success in the ACC. Regardless of how many wins Pitt has this season, let’s support coach Chryst and the players. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 08.30.12 @ 9:17 am

People don’t go after Tags because he leaves it on the field, every game. He doesn’t loaf and then make excuses. That is the fundamental difference and the crux of my point. It is okay to not be good enough. It is not okay to not be good enough, continue to make the same mental mistakes and point figures at a system for the reason of failure.

The qb is a leader. When you get sacked often and your players don’t pick you up, they have no respect for you. Hence, no leadership.Quit whining and limping around only to have a miraculous recovery when you do something right. Be a winner!This is not the olympics. Second place against your opponent on Saturdays is not a good thing!

In other notes, Rivals reports that PSU 4 star verbal, OLB Issah has opened his recruiting.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.30.12 @ 9:54 am

when a QB gets sacked and or in the famous case vs Rutgers, when the QB gets hit by 2 rushers rigt after he released the ball, and the linemen responsible doesn’t try help the QB up … well I think that says a hell of a lot more about the linemn than it does about the QB

Comment by wbb 08.30.12 @ 10:11 am

One concern we should all have based on wbb’s comments is: will the team revert to indifference towards Sir Tino at the first sign of adversity this year.

Like say, on the road at Cincy in week 2 and Sir Tino gets clobbered on a blitz and throws a dying quail up for grabs. This team (as well as the fan base)and especially Tiny could use a total mind wipe.

Comment by Emel 08.31.12 @ 2:00 pm

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