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September 17, 2012

Monday Morning QB

Filed under: Big East,Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 7:10 am

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 …





Very nice piece Reed.

You are spot on. Can Tino string performances together? The difference may be the reassurance from a tempered Chryst. When Tino relaxes he is ok. When he is frazzled he looks horrible. Fraud had him frazzled all season.

You are also spot on with Shell. He is more like my good friend Iron head (RIP). He always falls forward and has uncharacteristic speed and agility for a big back who Is more the size of FB. He looks to punish the defender first. Would be interesting to see wishbone with all three backs in the backfield at once. At least try graham / shell together with Bennett or any combination of the three. AKA 1988 with ironhead at tail and his brother Nat at FB (remember Nat had the size of a HB)

Comment by Pitt Fan in Atlanta 09.17.12 @ 7:33 am

Reed, glad you are back. I really feel bad for you and Chas and all the other diehards that couldn’t make the game. I hadn’t planned on going, in fact went out to golf, but couldn’t find a game. Called another diehard and said I would meet him there. It was already seven nothing when we got in the stadium.

What a day! Expected V-Tech to open a can of whoop-ass on us, but it was the other way around.

Their Q-B had a bad day, but we contributed and took advantage of it. We played nearly mistake free ball, who were those guys?

After attending most of the major disappointments and letdowns over many years, this one was total satisfaction.

I’m sure it is still going to be a bumpy ride, but boy did we need that one.

Shell was great, but it was the offensive line that turned a corner and made it possible. Same with the D-Line. They looked nothing like they did in the first two.

Hail to Pitt.

Comment by gc 09.17.12 @ 8:06 am

Reed,

I predicted last spring and restated it last week that Virginia Tech was going to be the “Signature Win” for Paul Chryst in his first year.

There were specific reasons that I posted and in hindsight look to have pretty much held up.

—————–

1) VaTech is good but not that good — Most impressive aspect of the team looks to be the defense, especially line and linebackers.

2) Hokie QB good but not that good — Physically imposing and obviously a gifted athlete for his size, Logan Thomas is just average when it comes to throwing the football. Pitt may be about to have its first interception of the season.

3) Pitt’s Defense showing life — Chryst and Huxtable are showing a willingness to put who they think are the best players on the field no matter what anybody thinks. Holley and Hendricks in, surprisingly Taglianetti out and Vinopal out. The addition of Clemmings seemed to give the D-Line a little edge. And most surprising, Gordon finally sucked it up and played his best game in two years although still not exactly Mason-esque.

4)Pitt’s running game improviing — Ray Graham is healthier and finally Rushel Shell gets to show us what he can do and he looked pretty good… as a runner. Now, if the O-Line can just come around.

5) Chryst finally gets to see tape on a team with an extra few days to lay out his gameplan. Wisconsin’s offensive woes last weekend are testimony to exactly what Chryst brings to the table and why he was hired.

——————————

Going forward there are a couple of concerns I have… one of which you correctly pointed out above.

Tino has a history of being inconsistent. The question is will this come back to bite us as we move into the heart of the Big East schedule?

Another concern i have is when Pitt plays another good team that is quarterbacked by a real passer and not an Logan Thomas who has a better chance of making as a tight end in the NFL than anything else.

But, thankfully now we should get a break from all the “gloom and doomers” who were so quick to discount Chryst’s well-earned reputation as a master tactician.

Chryst and his staff look to be more than up to the task of putting the team in a position to win when they have ample time to gameplan… and now they’ve had sufficient opportunity to determine which players need to be on the field. — the latest example being the insertion of two guys named Williams on defense who both clearly came to play.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.17.12 @ 8:27 am

Hail Pitt

Comment by Justin 09.17.12 @ 9:13 am

Reed,

Hope your boy is ok, congrats on the wedding.

Let’s enjoy this win, probably the biggest since 13-9.

HAIL.

Comment by H.LandPitt 09.17.12 @ 9:17 am

I didn’t see the attendance numbers for the VT game, but the visual I had was alarming.

I was flying in from Florida and the landing pattern took the plane over the point and Heinz field at about 1:30pm. When I looked at the stadium, the upper sideline (Pitt side) was barely full. There was only a small smattering of folks between the 30s. I just assumed Pitt was getting their arses whupped and people had already left. I had quite the surprise when I got home about 2:30pm and turned on the TV to see Pitt up big and heading in for their last score.

I believe the coaching as well as the players getting comfortable with the system and the play calls were a big factor in their performance. PC had 2 live action games to determine what he had with this team and made the proper adjustments for Pitt to be successful. Having extra time after the Cincy game helped greatly too.

HOPEFULLY they can continue developing and roll over GW this week.

GO PITT

Comment by pghFred 09.17.12 @ 9:20 am

Not to be debbie downer… but whats new here ? Pitt upsetting Vatech.. been there. Tino having a head scratching great game (USF) been there.

I really hope Tino can change the mindset and play consistent.

One thing is weary.. is the spread offense, which Pitt has always had issues with.

But… lets not be a total devils advocate, Vatech may have been lackluster on offense, but their D was returning, 8 Starters ? That Shell Graham combo was brutal !

If pitt doesn’t play from behind and can ride that run game and control the game, shell and graham will have monster year.

I hope we have a dominating performance against webb, and smash cuse, with Tino leading the way and the RB’s smashing through everybody.

Comment by Snala The Panther 09.17.12 @ 9:37 am

Reed, I hope that all is well with your Son.

I was on board with PittofDreams regarding the potential of this Va Tech game being a signature win game in Coach Chryst’s first season too. I just didn’t think that we would be 0-2 going into it. Subsequently, me of little faith was sure that the Hokies were going to school us with their defensive pressures on the O line and frazzle Sunseri into a mistake filled game after watching those first two debacles. Boy was I wrong! The mistakes where from the VT QB instead. The Hokies turned into the Chokies right before our very eyes. BTW, crow doesn’t actually taste that bad.

Reed, I feel that you are much too kind in your analysis of Tino’s previous game performances. I saw two huge differences in his play on Saturday that I have seldom seen, if ever, in his past executions.

First, he totally trusted and anticipated his receiver’s routes, consistently. On both TD passes to Shanahan & Street, the ball was gone before the receiver was looking back for the ball and on the Street TD, Street had not even made his cut to the outside corner of the endzone when the ball was in the air. He turned around and the ball was in his face, HELLO! That kind of decisiveness has been sorely lacking in Tino’s past performances.

Secondly, he was throwing the ball with zip and accuracy all day, even THE LONG BALL!!! What a change of pace to have him actually hitting his receivers downfield, and they were rarely wide open when he was doing it. Those two TD passes, that I previously mentioned, were beautiful and done under the duress of tight coverage. Best two TD passes that I can ever remember seeing him throw.

Both of those things made everybody else look better, the O line, the blocking backs, the receivers, even the running backs, because all of a suddeen the defense had to back off from stacking the box because Tino was passing so effectively.

Now concerning those running backs, Shell is already a man child! I’ve read before that his lower body development is massive and you could see that in the way he would take on tackles and finish his runs. When he got low enough, he was not going down without being securely wrapped up by the tackler.

I even saw a couple times, defenders get THEIR bell’s rung when they went in full steam ahead expecting to just knock Shell over with a power shot to the lower body. Both times, Shell kept moving forward as they got knocked backwards, all preoccupied with just trying to get their eyes focused back in the same direction again.

I don’t really see the neccessity of him developing his outside threat that you do in the future. Based on how Chyrst prefers to run the ball, I see Shell’s forte in running between the tackles, which is not a bad thing or any slight on Shell’s potential. I just anticipate this kid being able to carry the load North & South with little need to have to resort to getting free on the outside to rack up his yardage. I do agree with you that he is in the image of an Ironhead, or maybe even more so, Elliott Walker from back in the old glory days. But in any case, a power runner. I agree with your assessment of how defenders are going to view this load however. I know that I wouldn’t want to be in the situation of a middle linebacker seeing Shell burst through a hole with the only thing standing between him and the endzone being me, Jesus H. Christ, HELP!

As I previously mentioned, in trying to provide a calming attitude, “Pitt will win again”. I just didn’t think that it was going to be in such a dominating fashion, providing such an a$$ whoopin over a strong team like VT, especially right after two such lack luster efforts against YSU and Cincy. But that is why they play the games and is the reason why I love college football, you just never know.

All that I DO know, is that it is going to be much more fun wearing around my Pitt gear down here in Hokie country for the rest of the season. HAIL TO PITT.

Lets keep it going.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 9:38 am

Heya Reed, welcome back. First and foremost, I hope your son continues his progress.

So what do we have here? Pitt is playing Freshman and RS Freshman, wherein our prior coaches may have been reluctant to do so. If you are good enough, you play. This is a change in philosophy at Pitt which leads to better competition at all positions, and hopefully improvement across the board.

Tino – is what tino is. I am not going to get over-excited and my only hope is that he contains himself and does not think he can do it all, because he can’t. Knowing and accepting your limitations is often more acceptable than trying to do things you just can’t do. Our running backs were exceptional, our oline, really good and our receivers giving up their bodies and aggressively going after catches! They need to continue to take it personally and not allowing a ball to hit the turf! The offense sure needs to commit to getting better and riding the momentum this week. Shell, Graham, Shanahan, Street, Oline, FB, Tino -Great job!

The defense did really well. I continue to say that in college, qb’s can hurt you if they are good enough. Fortunately, Pitt will only face one or two nfl caliber qb’s that can hurt them in a year. Keep playing the pressure game. I do like LPitt’s back there. He plays aggressive! Some of the young guys on the line should continue to improve (Cook, Clemmings).

Improvements – Penalties. 11 is way too many. Pitt needs to stay aggressive and not get over confident. Over confidence should be controlled quite quickly with YSU in their recent history. Coaching- PC is just the man. I have touted him from the start and continue to believe even more each week that he is a great pick-up. Has anyone really looked at Wisconsins struggles this year. 16 points saturday! Keep building PITT!!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.17.12 @ 9:39 am

Hope all is well with you family.

The run/pass breakdown was 65%/35%…
and I agree… we’ve seen this from Tino.. lets hope he can find consistency throughout the season.

Remember Thunder and Lightening from NYGiants…
Thunder was Ron Dayne.. from Wisky..

Comment by Joe D 09.17.12 @ 9:52 am

@ pgh Fred, LOL, your flight pattern and timing were perfect. I bet you dollars to doughnuts that flew over during halftime!!!

However, in any case, attendence was down. Official numbers were a little over 40,000 and you can thank that number on the fact that VT travels well and brought a lot of their fans into available seating beyond the assigned “visitors” seating section.

I hope that this win will bring a little more enthusiasm into the Gardner-Webb game and gets the fans to come out next week to see if Tino and company can actually look like a competent football team two weeks in a row.

After the YSU, who knows whether we can even pencil in a win for this one or not? I guess we’ll see.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 9:54 am

So I am at breakfast this morning on the outskirts of DC. I am wearing my Pitt baseball cap because I had yet to shower and be on my way (gross, but I digress). As I am chomping some vittles, A guy comes in donning a VT hat and t-shirt (also gross and presumed un-showered). I ask the waitress for some paper and a pen.

I scribble down 35-17 and ask her to deliver it to the gentlemen. She does so. He gets the note, says AHH Shit, who did this? The waitress points at me and he lets out a belly laugh!! As I leave and go to pay, I am told that my meal had been taken care of and I was handed a note. The note says, Welcome to the ACC. We will kick your ass next year!! Too funny and 100% accurate.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.17.12 @ 10:15 am

I’m a Blatherite?

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 09.17.12 @ 10:21 am

Dr. Tom – Good point about it probably being halftime. I didn’t think of that.

I had tix from the first year of Heinz until ’09. I just couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to go to the games. My wife would go to one early (wouln’t go to a game in the cold) and my sons would normally attend one each. But for the other 3-4 games, it was a struggle to find anyone to go.

I will seriously look into getting season tix again for next season. If Pitt looks as good the rest of the year as they did Saturday, I might be able to convince folks to start going again.

Comment by pghFred 09.17.12 @ 10:27 am

Big improvements in all areas but I think Street needs to keep his head in the game at all times, 3rd and 12 from the 50 Street dropped a pass that would have been a 1st down inside VT’s 35 and he gave up on Tino’s int, also anyone hear what the new recruits had to say any commits

Comment by steve h 09.17.12 @ 10:33 am

when chas ask what the score of the VT would
be i said pitt would win bye 6 look it up
i was off on score but right on who would win.

i think we win the next 2 games so L VILLE be
comes the key game if we beat them we could still be 10 and 2 or 9 and 3.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.17.12 @ 10:38 am

One thing us Pitt Faithful will discover in our away game travels as we transition to the ACC is that the fan base of this conference has class. Southern hospitality is a given and most fans realize, even though they may have a rabid dedication to their prospective teams is that they totally get it that, “it is only a game”.

It will be a pleasant change from taking your life in your hands when showing up for an away game at Mountaineer stadium as a comparision.

dhuffdaddy’s experience above is a case in point. If that had taken place in Hoopie land with the 13-9 game, it would have resulted in a bar fight scene most likely.

Can’t get to the ACC fast enough. This game sets up an instant rivalery renewal with our old BE foe VT. Believe me they WILL be looking forward to “kicking our asses next year” for sure. Nobody down here gave Pitt the least bit of a chance to pull out a win, SURPRISE!

As always, HAIL TO PITT!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 10:42 am

frank – I had them at 1-2 after the first 3 but losing to Cin and VT, not YSU. If they continue to progress, they almost certainly will go into the UL game at 3-2.

10-2 might be tough though. ND looks very strong and pushed around a very good Mich St. team. I don’t know if we’re at that level yet.

9-3 is definitly still a possibility. But Tino HAS to play well. Not great, but manage the game well and minimize mistakes.

Right now, I’d predict 8-4. After the first 2 weeks, I’ll take it.

Comment by pghFred 09.17.12 @ 10:48 am

I am so happy about this win. It is fun to read all different sites and blogs about the fair weather fans jumping back on the bus after one game. I am still confident that we have a great coach and that down the road he is going to help restore order and wins to this program. But I can’t jump on the Tino bus, he has been too inconsistent and let me down too many times to just all of a sudden be his number one fan. Im happy he played a good game, but at the same time reserved for his next and that is not being pessimistic or negative, it is just based on past performances. One thing I can take away from the game is Rushel Shell. That man is the real deal; watching him run is like watching a tank plow through things. we are gonna have some fun watching him in the future. Hopefully this was a statement game and one that opened the eyes of the fans and woke up the players. Pitt is going to be okay, we just have to be patient and enjoy moments like these! H2P!

Comment by pittisit37 09.17.12 @ 10:56 am

Next year media plan…

Thunder and Lightening…
Shell and Bennett…

Let’s hope they stay out of trouble and put the work in..

Comment by Joe D 09.17.12 @ 11:02 am

@ FRANKCAN, based on how this unpredictable season is going, I strongly suggest that we simply concentrate on one game at a time and see how it goes along. This team could still be all over the map and end up anywhere from 3-9 to 9-3 from here.

There are just too many variables, youth, potential for injuries, no depth, etc. And then of course we NEVER know what Tino is going to show up for the game do we?

I’m actually now looking forward to attending the Gardner-Webb game for just those reasons. What team shows up next week?????

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 11:05 am

Welcome back Reed, hope the family is well, and great analysis of the game as usual. A couple people have mentioned the VT fanbase, and on the whole, I agree, they are much classier, and many ACC fans are much classier than what we are leaving in the Big East. I know there were some fears of being a bottom-dweller in the ACC, and I know VT always plays bad games early in the year, but I think we can put those fears to bed. Pitt ain’t gonna pull a Wake Forest, Duke is always gonna be bad, Maryland looks like a program in shambles, Miami has all kinds of issues right now (although in the long term they’ll be back), Syracuse is struggling to stay relevant, Boston College hasn’t sniffed respectability since Matt Ryan left and that’s half your conference right there. But I digress.

Back to enjoying the beat-down of VT, can we talk about Devin Cook? I think he is a guy who might have changed the tempo of the whole game. Kid has a motor and finally was the guy who took advantage of the one-on-one matchups created by all the double-teams of Donald. I know Pitt’s D is going to have bad games in the future, but I think the under-the-radar story of this game is that PitIt has found their next big D-line star. Redshirt freshman too, I am looking forward to seeing Cook develop over the next few years.

Finally, I am going to take the Tino-bait. Tino Marino’s yardage numbers are impressive, but a) by virtue of being a 3 year starter you’d expect those to be up there b) can you imagine how much more yards he’d have if not for disastrous games like Utah last year? What did he have, less than 100 yards passing? c) Its worth pointing out Tino gets an extra game every year and football itself has become so much more pass-oriented since Marino’s day.

Let me preface this by saying I am NOT trying to be a Tino basher because the kid is tough, deserves credit for a lot of things and had himself a career day, but he still has not led a comeback at Pitt. I know I have been blasted for this before, but a fact is a fact. Zero comeback wins under Tino. The VT game fit his script well, when Tino gets off to a good start, he usually continues to play well. It’s that early adversity which can cause him to go in a shell. In some ways I hope that never happens because it could mean Pitt never trails in a game, but realistically, I hope Tino does pull it off at some point over the next 9-10 games. Maybe against Louisville, those guys look ripe to be beaten by a comeback!

Anyway, congrats again Reed, here’s hoping that this win rights the ship and sparks Pitt towards an unexpected but wonderful run at the BE title on our way our the door.

H2P!

Comment by TartanPanther 09.17.12 @ 11:10 am

Spot on pittisit37.

Comment by Matt N. 09.17.12 @ 11:19 am

@ Joe D. Hell with next year, get some Pitt religion this season with a “Fire and Brimstone” media campaigne. AKA, Ray Graham and Rushell Shell!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 11:24 am

I just want Pitt to be 1-0 on September 22,2012.

Will be a great week of support and an opportunity to build. Paul Chryst believes in playing the best player’s regardless of academic or athletic class. Freshman are not always the wrong choices. Think about #4’s lessons already, on and off the field. He will only get better, faster, if he learns from the teachings of a head coach that prides himself on teaching!

Look at the Wisky troubles. To be fair though, they also had a coaching overhaul, just not three complete staffs in three years. Continuity breeds success…..just look at the steelers for the model!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.17.12 @ 11:34 am

I have several friends from VT, MD, U of FLA, UNC and they are far from arrogant (like PSU) or juvenille (like WVU). Its actually a pleasure to watch and talk football with them. Looking forward to joining our new conference brotherhood.

I should not leave Butgers out either. I remember theif fans being complete jackoffs the year Ray Rice torched us in heinz Field.

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.17.12 @ 11:40 am

I think Tino will do fine this year. Yes he’s been inconsistant in the past, but he’s been through a lot and he is now in a system that suits him better. I remember Billy Stull and he did not look anything like a D1 quarter until his last year. As I’m sure everyone remembers, Stull put together a very strong senior year. Granted, his situation was somewhat different, because he didn’t have to go though dramatic changes in the offensive systems like Tino had to deal with. Also Stull had a head coach Dave Wannstedt, who stood behind him, where as Todd Graham through Tino under the buss. Let’s hope Tino and the Panthers continue to play well. I realize that there will still be some bumps in the road, but I do believe they are begining to get things together.

Comment by Justinian 09.17.12 @ 11:55 am

RU “fans” threw bottles of p all over the Pitt section at their place. May they flounder forever in the BE.

Reed, great analysis and I hope that your son stays well.

Comment by steve1 09.17.12 @ 11:56 am

Fan arrogance appears to be largely a B10 phenomenon. Yes, I know it occurs in the SEC but at least it is warranted.

As far as the number of passing attempts — believe that had much to do with trying to play catch-up in the 1st 2 games. I’m sure there is nothing PC would like better than running the ball right down the D’s throat, especially when preserving a lead in the 4th qtr.

Comment by wbb 09.17.12 @ 12:04 pm

To me, Shell best compares to Maurice Clarett. Height, weight, speed, running style.

Comparing highlights side by side, there’s an almost uncanny similarity.

However, Ray Graham… What a unique talent. More importantly, what an inspiration!

Quickly becoming my all-time favorite Pitt player.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.17.12 @ 12:21 pm

Couple of clarification about fan behavior and notably the south. The ACC will be more friendly but not because of being in the south (alabama fan poisons Auburn trees or redneck UGA fans). ACC is classier because of the calibre of student attending what is a more competitive academic environment. Along with the bulk of supporters being alumni. SEC has fan support from the regular Joe (See WVU and PSU).

PITT will fair fine In ACC. Fan support is the same. 2/3 stadiums are filled except for Vtech (more an SEC type school). Most are located in cities. All are respected for having a culture beyond sports. Great fit for PITT.

We will compete instantly and challenge for ACC championship game each season and have a chance at playoff system every 5-6 years. The real question is can we recruit GA, SC, And NC? We have inroads to Maryland, VA, and FL but we really need GA (metro Atlanta) and NC. If we can then we will instantly be competitive nationally. Metro Atlanta has a population of 8 million so there is tins of talent to go after. The south has a different type of athlete that we will need. Athleticism falling out of the sky. That is our challenge and the ACC presents a real opportunity for PITT to capatalize. PITT has a nationally recognizable name.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 09.17.12 @ 12:24 pm

pghFread said:

“I believe the coaching as well as the players getting comfortable with the system and the play calls were a big factor in their performance. PC had 2 live action games to determine what he had with this team and made the proper adjustments for Pitt to be successful. Having extra time after the Cincy game helped greatly too.

HOPEFULLY they can continue developing and roll over GW this week.”

The above is where my mindset is/was in respect to this team and coaches. I liken the past 2-3 years too a somewhat dysfunctional family whose parents have forsaken their responsibility to their children. LOL!!!

PC’s steady hand was self-evident in his mantra of the best prepared will play. Kudos to M. Williams/D. Cook for not only being prepared but also showing it on the field.

This team was in disarray mentally the last two seasons and coming into the current one. The needed leadership, mentoring and stability. They seem to have found it with PC. Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be ups and downs to come because this team/program is a work in progress. At the same time it is going in the right direction…

Comment by Kenny 09.17.12 @ 12:26 pm

Kenny,

Here’s something especially you (and others) may find interesting.

Hearing there’s a chance that Sunseri will not be ready to go Saturday.

Decision could be made this week as whether to redshirt Voytik or get him some action.

Now this is a little birdy (not tweet) and unconfirmed.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.17.12 @ 12:34 pm

PittofDreams,

That’s a little bit interesting because that may dovetail with some discussions I heard this morning on the way in to work. Greg Giannotti on 93.7 The Fan (local Pitt flagship) said on the air this morning that Tino was in tremendous amounts of pain at the end of the game Saturday and in the post-game. Never really hinted that he couldn’t go, but Giannotti indicated that whatever he did to his leg was very clearly bothering him afterwards.

Comment by Stoosh 09.17.12 @ 12:54 pm

Reed,

Welcome back, sir. Congratualtions on the wedding and I hope your son is doing well.

Comment by Stoosh 09.17.12 @ 12:55 pm

I think the emergence of Rushel Shell is important. I like having three good running backs, because things happen over the course of a season. Ray Graham is doing well and hopefully he will continue to get better. I also think think Issac Bennett will pay dividends as well. Bennett may not get as many carries as he would like this year, but I think he’s a good running back and he will be splitting a lot of time with Shell after Ray Graham graduates. As I see it, as well as Rushel Shell was playing, it would have been foolish to take him out.

Comment by Justinian 09.17.12 @ 1:00 pm

Reed, from on Pitt alum in MD to another, congrats on the wedding.

Interesting analysis. I also thought Tino seemed calmer. And that Chryst’s move meant that Voytik is red-shirting all the way, barring the unforeseen.

Time will tell, but it feels like a season and maybe even a program salvaged with this win.

Comment by velvil 09.17.12 @ 1:00 pm

Kenny I agree with you. Typically they say the biggest improvement a team makes it between it’s 1st and 2nd games. In Pitt’s situation with a Thursday night game, they did not have a full week to iron our some of their problems. Also they have a new system wich takes time as well. I think going forward, things look a lot better for them.

Comment by Justinian 09.17.12 @ 1:05 pm

TartanPanther brings up a great point, Sunseri has never led Pitt to a “come from behind” victory, NEVER. This game Saturday was a great win. An essential win to give us hope again. But as steady Eddie Coach Chryst mentioned after the game, it is only that, one win, PERIOD.

I’m thrilled that Tino played as well as he did. I’ve already praised him for his decisive play and passing accuracy against VT. Now, can he just rewind that performance and repeat it again and again?

Sunseri can not be vindicated from his past under acheivements by this “flash in the pan” one game victory, but it is a great start for that FUTURE vindication if it is to materialize.

Now on to Gardner-Webb. No one in the stadium will be chanting for Voytik to get his first start this week after that VT game, although it will be a perfect game to get other true and RS Freshman their chance to show their goods on the field of play in less than a dire straits game situation(hopefully). It should be another game opportunity for Tino to keep trusting his receivers and to continue to hone their timing together in the passing game. It should also be a perfect game to build on Tino’s confidence for the rest of the season as we enter into the meat of our BE schedule.

It will be interesting to see which Tino and team show up for this game. I trust that Chryst will have driven home, by game time, the mantra that this is a day by day, game by game process and that “we only have control of the controlables”. Which I guess means that if you just pay attention to your own business and if everybody shows up to work with the right attitude after putting in the effort leading up to game time, then good things will transpire. No MAGIC there.

Tino, being Tino however could very easily let this game unravel the goodwill that this VT win has accumulated for him. I hope not, because backed up by a couple more stellar performances like the one on Saturday, then maybe, just maybe the talk about him being vindicated might just start to be validated. That would be “Neat”.

Now, if and when he decides that he wants to double down on that with a solid come from behind victory fueled by some true 4th quarter QB heroics, then I’ll even begin to believe that the “good” Tino has come home to roost for the rest of the season. And that is the “Truth”.

Do us all a big favor Mr. Sunseri and continue your winning ways. Time will tell.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 1:07 pm

If tino cant go do you think they go with anderson
and only go with voytik if anderson screws up or do they go right to voytik from the kick off.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.17.12 @ 1:13 pm

Thanks Dr. Tom, I agree with you, especially “it is a great start for that FUTURE vindication”

I would say hands-down Tino vindicates himself fully if he leads Pitt to an outright Big East title, something no QB in the history of the program has ever done–I know, I know, that’s not saying much AND I know Tino won a share of the BE title, something only one other Pitt QB has done, but I think my point stands, an outright BE title and Tino can forever shut up his critics, myself included!

But I would be remiss if I did not add that is not the only way for Tino to redeem himself. Continue to be a leader of the team, stay above the fray, do well in class, etc. and make us all proud as a true student-athlete.

Can’t wait for more ACC games :)

P.S. – HC PC is so cagey with injuries I would not read anything in to it. I bet Tino starts, and if not, Trey Anderson. No one, I mean no one, on Gardner Webb is slowing down Rushel Shell. If the coaches want him to have a 250 yard game, they could. But here’s hoping Ray and Tino come out, play the first half, build a big lead and hit the showers and enjoy watching Shell run over hapless defenders!

Comment by TartanPanther 09.17.12 @ 1:17 pm

Based on the new hope instilled in Sunseri off the VT victory, I think Coach Chryst would prefer to keep Voytik’s redshirt intact. Therefore, Anderson starts against G-W if Tino can’t go. But based on my post above, even if Tino is at 90% I’d still start him.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 1:19 pm

Agree with Dr. Tom , Coach Ditka, and PFIA, ACC fans will be a refreshing change from WVU fans and their Pittsburgh envy, and the B1G bravado we have to listen to locally from PSU, OSU alum/fans. Recall VT fans being cool from back in their Big East days. Travel strong and support their team but know how to win or lose with grace. VT has been a solid program for 20+ years; we’re not on their level, even though we’ve had success vs them. My hope is that we will be soon and Pitt/VT will be a great ACC rivalry for years to come.

Comment by Iron Duke 09.17.12 @ 1:27 pm

Agree with Dr. Tom. One would think we’d be able to run extremely effectively against GW and not have t expect much from Tino for a win. Think it’s important for him to play and build on the VT win.

Comment by Carmen 09.17.12 @ 1:29 pm

NJ alumni and friends:

Reserve the date, 10/5 at 7PM

Fox and Hound in Menlo Park

Pitt vs. Syracuse Game Watch

Comment by steve1 09.17.12 @ 2:08 pm

Here are some of the players who were at the VT
game justice rawlings josh newkirk kirk barron and troy vincent dont know of any outhers that list was on pitt247.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.17.12 @ 3:29 pm

Before the season one of my concerns was that the fan base and media would jump all over Chryst and Co. after a 1-2 start (of course I thought they would win the 1st and then lose 2).

Funny thing is, by doing it this way, all of the grief and carnage seems to have been delivered already and the fan base is ecstatic after a 1-2 start after the romp over Virginia Tech. Funny thing how timing works out.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 09.17.12 @ 4:59 pm

Ecstatic?…Yep, that about describes how I felt walking out of Heinz on Saturday.

I said to a friend before the game that this season had a 1968 feel to it. I have never in my life been so glad to be wrong.

Lets not look part the Gardner Webbs.

Hail to Pitt!!

Comment by dinosaur 71 09.17.12 @ 5:53 pm

“past”

Comment by dinosaur 71 09.17.12 @ 5:53 pm

Rushel Shell gets some love and attention from the national media too. Check it out.

link to bleacherreport.com

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.17.12 @ 7:08 pm

Would it be “blatherites” or “blathereen”? Lol

Comment by Pittisforreal 09.17.12 @ 8:10 pm

I like “blathren” ;)

Comment by TartanPanther 09.17.12 @ 8:33 pm

Reed, All the best to your son for a total recovery and to your daughter on her marriage. Congratulations to you on surviving it all. You guys and gals have already said most of the good stuff about the game and it was that good. We sat in the first level toward the open end next to a mixture of Pitt and VT fans. They were great and there were even some couples where one was a Pitt fan (possibly a student) and one a VT fan and some mixed groups. Shook hands with one friendly young man on the way out and told him I wished we could be in the ACC this year. He seemed to like that. Our student section was full and great although some did leave during the fourth quarter. Passed a very long line of students boarding school buses for the ride back to Oakland and some didn’t look too happy with the wait. One idea that might help this and provide some spacing for leaving after the game would be to have the band give a brief concert, joined by the visiting band if it was there. I married into a Michigan family and we go to a game at A2 every year. They do this and there are a bunch of fans who gather on the home side to listen to the bands. Finally, can the band be amplified? They seemed to be good but their sound is not as strong as that of the magnificent sound system at Heinz Field particularly for those of us on the visitors side since the band usually faces the home side during the half time performance. Congratulations to HCPC and his staff and to the team. This year is going to be a fun ride–no predictions from me on how many wins!

Comment by opfim 09.17.12 @ 11:45 pm

Thanks for all the well wishes – it was on strange and lovely week and the VT game just put a topper on it. Funny thing is that I had to give away my tickets for the game because of house guests but one of the was the guy I go to the games with so we had a blast watching it on the big screen.

Re: Sunseri’s past. I’m not sure how the ‘vindication’ topic arose but I agree with Dr. Tom that having a good season this year, all around that is – both physically and mentally, will certainly help his reputation among PITT fans.

As for his past play on the field – I’ll state again that we’ve seen him have exactly this sort of game numerous times before. It just feels new because, well… it is new to us in the fact it was a few days ago. But he played this well against SYR and RU in 2010 where he had QB ratings of 224 and 202.

Hell, against RU that year he dad 307 yards, three TDs and a 78% completion rate… its hard to beat that. In 2011 we know about the UCONN game but his work against USF was very effective also. Even though he didn’t put up big stats in that game he was very effective with the ball.

I look at QB ratings as meaning something. In the past the Top 25 passers in college held a 145 QB rating and above. Sunseri has had seven games in his career where he has been over 145 and all of those were wins.

OK – that certainly doesn’t erase all the poor performances and the fact that he hasn’t come from behind to win games – those are the facts when dealing with his rather poor career overall. My point is that what we saw Saturday, the confidence and communication with his receivers, etc…, we sure have seen before and that he’s capable of doing that in the future also.

Of course with Sunseri capability and results do not always add up as we well know. If it happens to this season we’ll win more games.

Comment by Reed 09.18.12 @ 6:45 am

It always comes down to pressure — no or little pressure, most QBs look like studs, but heavy pressure seperates the gamers from the pretenders. In every good game Tino has played, as I recall, either our O-line was very very good or the opponent’s D played conservatively and didn’t pressure too much. Keep guys off him, he looks like Ken Anderson, but put guys in his face and he’s running around right into D-linemen and chucking crazy passes. That’s been the pattern for 30 games…a pretty good sample. Perhaps things have changed — I definitely hope.

Comment by Matt N. 09.18.12 @ 11:54 am

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