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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 …





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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