It sounds like you guys are pretty happy about the game last Saturday. I am also and can’t wait for next Saturday (Gardner-Webb; 3:30 @ Heinz Field) when we can really build on the mechanics of the systems to get ready for Big East football.
I’ve obviously taken a hiatus from The Blather for a bit. We had all the preparations for my daughter’s wedding week; her wedding on Friday; house guests until Sunday and, with perfectly bad timing, my son was hospitalized on Wednesday and missed all the wedding activities. He’s home, doing well and dodged emergency surgery but I was running around like a chicken without a head for the last week and couldn’t write anything. Which also meant I had to be here in Maryland sitting in front of the TV rather than at Heinz Field.
But back to PITT football!
It was obviously a surprise to watch PITT not only get that big lead but to then hold it through four quarters. As many Blatherites have posted we were sitting and waiting for it to slowly drift away. That didn’t happen and we can credit the coaching staff for trusting Sunseri and the offense well enough to believe that they were going to string together enough 1st downs to keep drives alive and the clock running. That happened and it paid off with a late score to put the game out of reach.
I think the staff is beginning to see exactly what they have to work with and are adapting and substituting well enough to get production on the field.
Tino Sunseri played well but unlike with some other fans this wasn’t very surprising to me. This is exactly what he does. He plays poorly then follows it up with a good game. The key, and hopefully the difference, between this season and past ones is that he’ll maintain some consistency in play. Fingers crossed.
Which in a real sense he’s already started to do. He moved the football up and down the field against Cincinnati but couldn’t convert those two short red zone plays to score. That was cerebral with him; both were just plain mistakes that should never be made by a 5th year senior. Saturday he seemed much calmer and was able to execute on every play.
What we saw him do however was no different then what we have seen him do many times before, at least physically. He didn’t make passes that he had never completed before. He didn’t make any scrambles that he hadn’t before, and most importantly he didn’t make any decisions he hadn’t made before. Those were already in his tool kit. What he did do was put them all together for 60 minutes.
One interesting and hidden stat is that Sunseri completed 13 passes (out of 19 completions) that resulted in either 1st downs or TDs. So along with a 68% completion rate he also made 68% of his completions result in measurable and needed production. That is excellent passing.
An interesting point to note was that when Sunseri came up limping Chryst went straight to Trey Anderson as the backup QB. There was no hesitation at all. Now that makes me wonder about something. Did Chryst see the situation as short term and know that all he was going to ask Anderson to do was hand the ball off and attempt short passes? After all, that is what Sunseri did after he went back in. Our last TD drive in the 4th quarter consisted of 11 rushes and four passes.
Or, is Chryst’s way of thinking that Voytik really needs a year of being around college ball and that having that redshirt experience is better for everyone in the long run? I kind of think it’s the latter. Regardless – we’ll see what happens down the road.
Here’s another fun fact that will torque some fans off – if Sunseri keeps up his 266.6 yards per game average he’ll have, in a 13 game season, 3466 yards and will pass up Dan Marino on the all-time PITT passing list and end up in the #2 spot. Hey, let’s put it this way… if that does happen we still know Marino was a better QB but what a season we’ll have!
Something else to note is that Sunseri has thrown 95 passes in three games for a 31 per game average which is ahead of last year’s pace. So much for doing nothing but running the ball this season huh? There was a lot of fan speculation that because of Sunseri’s poor performance in 2011 Chryst would limit his passing and rely heavily on the running game to minimize chances that Sunseri would screw up. We discussed that in a post back on Aug 27th; stated that it wouldn’t happen and apparently we now see that Chryst is perfectly OK with Sunseri dropping back.
Rushel Shell had a coming out party and there isn’t much more to say about him other than it looks like we got what we thought we got. I posted on here earlier that Shell wasn’t the type of RB that a lot of people would envision when looking at his amazing high school stats. When talking with fans at the scrimmages and the 1st game I heard a lot of discussion of Dorsett’s and McCoy’s running styles and explained to them that Ironhead Hayward may be a better similarity – in both running manner and physicality.
Shell is built like a FB and runs like one but with more talent. He’s probably 10 pounds heavier than his listed 215 and, as we saw repeatedly, finishes off his runs very aggressively. He still has to better learn his pass blocking responsibilities though. He played few third down snaps yesterday when we were substituting the two RBs.
Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when the staff trusts him enough to keep him in on all the 3rd down plays? What will happen when we get him short swing passes with ten yards of space between him and the nearest defender? They may rip off their helmet and run screaming to the sidelines to avoid him.
Good Lord, this is a kid who never lifted weights in high school. Can you imagine what he’ll be like next season with a full year of weight room workouts?
Great afternoon, nice progress and good feelings all around were the results of Saturday’s win. I remind myself that this season is still all about getting more wins than losses and the BE championship but that VA Tech game, as unimportant in the BE standing as it may be, was great for the many recruits standing on the sidelines and for the overall attitude we all – players included – have had about PITT football. The key for next week is to keep improving communication and fixing mistakes. The win should (please Lord!) take care of itself.
Glad to be back …