Friday, November 25, 2011

Pittsburgh 20 West Virginia 21

What can I say about Tino Sunseri?  In all my years watching Pitt football I've never seen a more clueless quarterback.  It's really almost unfathomable how somebody can make so many mistakes while playing football.  You would think just by sheer accident that he would stumble upon a good decision, but it's almost like he goes out of his way to be bad.  He has no instincts and as a football player he has zero football intelligence.  I'm beginning to think it's more and more likely that incoming freshman Chad Voytik could beat out Sunseri next year because even somebody who practices college football for three weeks will be a step ahead of Sunseri.

Count me amongst those that could care less if Pitt ever plays West Virginia again.  Their football and basketball teams are always chippy, their coaches are often an embarrassment, and their fans are so hateful and bitter that it's hard to believe that they are watching amateurs play a sport.

Does Andrew Taglianetti actually have a football for a nose?  It's amazing how big plays seem to find him.

The Panthers pass rush is special, thanks mostly to future All-American Aaron Donald.  Juan Price also had a lightning quick sack.

How good is K'wuan Williams?  Not only did he force a fumble in the fourth quarter but he also blew up a fourth down that led to a good tackle by Buddy Jackson. Then on a 3rd and 1 deep in Pitt territory, he makes a four yard loss on a completion.  Answer- the kid is really, really good.

The Panthers have the softest receivers in the country.  Mike Shanahan and Devin Street have been playing like that all year but Drew Carswell joined the party in the fourth quarter by looking completely scared on a long pass down the middle.

Isaac Bennett has more heart in his little finger than half the offensive starters have combined.

Watching Shanahan returning a punt is like watching a tree fall in the forest.  But a tree has better moves.


  1. Chris, it's very simple for next season because this season didn't matter anyway. He has to make it very clear that it is an open competition for qb and then never turn to Sunseri again. He will lose even the last holdouts like myself if Sunseri sees the field next year. I can handle the physical limitations such as Pat Bostick had if Sunseri made even average athletic decisions to throw the ball away, run, or do something other than stand there and get sacked. TG cannot and should not be judged on this year nor next year if we really start a true frosh at qb. Our defense has made such strides that I think he may have silenced the critics regarding his defensive history. To be highly successful in football in this era, you have to have an elite QB. However, with the right parts and schemes you can have a very good season if you have even an average QB. We don't have that this year and next year will be no different if Sunseri steps on the field.

  2. I completely agree with Chris and the first comment. Graham has to find another starting quarterback for next season. I do not think putting Voytik in as the starter next year is the correct thing to do, but there has to be someone else on the roster that can be the starter be it Trey Anderson or Gonzalez. We need a true run option quarterback of which both of those could be.

    Chris I know you do not think much of either of those choices but they have got to be better than Sunseri in the long run of an entire season. There is no doubt that we were going to lose the game the moment Zach Brown got injured because the game then fell on Sunseri's shoulders. Coach Graham made the mistake at the end of the first half of trusting him to make a play and we barely made it into the locker room without West Virginia scoring again.

  3. If Chriss V. is 50% of what he is supposed to be, not sure how he does not play within 3rd game of next year. We will have a great running attack. Graham can coach, you can see it, we were there all year with a suspect QB. I think good things are ahead for Pitt football, but this yr, was as annoying as you will have.

  4. This is what I have come to accept about Pitt football: The Panthers are Charlie Brown. And every team they play in an important game is Lucy. I'm numb to it now — yet I still sulk away with my head down after every loss like this. Why? Because, like Charlie Brown, just ONE TIME, I wanna kick that football. I want to revel in not just a moment of glory, but sustained glory. And Pitt keeps pulling it away — in ways that are increasingly heart-breaking.

    You've been very patient with Tino, Chris. As I've tried to be. He's just a kid. And he's a good kid. Raised a Pitt guy. Stand-up. And he tries his heart out. But, as come to realize — and have let your criticism build up in a slow boil all season — facts are facst: Tino is just not that good. I have a hard time thinking of a consistently worse starting D-I QB, especially under pressure. Sadly, Pitt has no other viable options under center right now. My kingdom for a Bostic or a Turman or (gasp!) a Rutherford (who would actually be a great fit for TG's offense).

    We had a chance to win that game tonight, the biggest game of the year. And Tino totally botched it. We had a better chance in that last drive just handing it off to Bennett. I now feel kinda bad for Coach Graham. He calls plays ... and they never have a chance with Tino back there — who starts to panic after his first read is covered, no matter the rush.

    Tonight, I Googled "Worst loss in Pitt history" right after the game. What came up was a January 2007 piece by Bob Smizik about the 25th anniversary of Jackie Sherrill's departure. Makes total sense today. We've never had such talent at the coaching and player positions since then.

  5. This is a great line, Chris:

    "Watching Shanahan returning a punt is like watching a tree fall in the forest. But a tree has better moves."

    The game is on the line. WVU is punting from its own 10 yard line. And we put in an Ent to return the punt. All we need is a FG to win the game, and our kicker (though inconsistent) has a monster leg. I correctly predicted on Twitter that Shanny would be back there to receive that punt — because, apparently, Graham wanted to make sure the ball was caught. A booooooming kick by the WVU MVP-of-the-game (the back-up punter!) and we start very deep after Shanny grabs the ball and runs out of bounds.

    Yes. Even someone with actual speed and athletic ability might have done the same thing. But TG did not even give Pitt a chance for a long return and an easier time at winning the game.

    Side note/question: Has TG and staff made a single half-time adjustment that improved Pitt's play all season?

  6. Who thinks Tino starts next game? Or Myers?

  7. Here's a stat I saw on a comment thread on another site (accuracy not guaranteed):

    "WVU had 16 sacks coming in to this game. That's dead last, trailing #7 Syracuse with 24. They had 10 tonight."

    And, legitimately, I think the O-line gave up just 3 or 4 of them. The rest were on Tino ... running into tacklers as he panicked after 1.5 seconds in the pocket.

  8. There's no way Graham starts Sunseri next year. I can barely watch him without throwing a chair through my TV and Graham has very low patience. He won't due it simply for his physical and mental well being ... and I don't blame him. Mind you that it's part Graham's fault too IMO becoz he jumps on his QB all the time and that rattles Sunseri. It's no coincidence that when things start going downhill with Sunseri it accelerates and lasts all game. That's becoz Graham amplifies any confidence problems that Sunseri has by going nuts about his fuck-ups.

    Shanahan back returning punts? WTF! Why not Hubie Graham?

    That was actually a well-thrown pass to Carswell but Carswell simply let up on it. That wasn't Sunseri's fault and that would have been a huge play ... possibly a TD.

    They are just college athletes and I try not to be so critical of them when they screw up but every time that I saw Sunseri ... by some miracle ... play well ... like against South Florida ... he struts around after the game like it's a personal triumph. He's got a huge imbalanced ego and it's hard to root for a guy like that. That said, he does has some guts and he'll stick his nose in there and take a hit in the running game to try to make a big play, but that ain't nearly enough when you're not an accurate passer, you don't have a very strong arm, you're not very fast, and you make bad decisions. On that 4th and a foot or so on our last drive, that he very fortunately got a good mark on, he didn't even have the sense to reach out with the ball to try to get it past the 1st down marker. Again, they were lucky that they even got that far ... I thought he was short.


  9. We got a very generous call on that 4th and 1, Z. I thought that was the game right there.

    I pretty much gave up on this season after we blew the Iowa game. But they kept pulling me back in! Pitt got every gift possible in that game. Stupid penalties against the hoopies in the first quarter. TWO muffed punts deep in WVU territory .. but for those, just field goals.

    Why? Because Graham knows his offensive scheme is only about 50 percent (if that) with Tino at QB. Why do you think we've been running it so much, even with Graham out. Tino is not even fast or shifty, but the O-line could make it happen with the triple-option.

    The defense played great, and Graham is a defensive guy and still has slow-footed players in the linebackers and secondary. I'll give TG until the mid-season of year three to make a judgment on his ability. But we've had enough time to judge Tino's ability. It's rather low.

  10. It has generally been my experience that the hoopies have been putting it to Pitt for the majority of my lifetime (37 years). So I decided to take a look at the results of the last 30 years, since that's the stretch we're on with 3 or more losses per year. (I did put this on the Smizik blog too):

    The last 30 years of the Backyard Brawl (since 1982):

    WVU is 18-10-2 vs. Pitt.
    Total score: WVU 850 Pitt 597
    Average Score: WVU 28.3 Pitt 19.9
    Average score WVU win: WVU 36.3 Pitt 16.8
    Average score Pitt win: Pitt 25.4 WVU 15.5

    Pitt max score: 48
    WVU max score: 52 (three times)

    Pitt has scored over 40 three times
    WVU has scored over 50 three times, 40-49 five more times. That's 26.7% of the time WVU scores over 40.

    Longest win streak: Pitt 2 WVU 5

    Pitt winning percentage: 30%.

    Pitt has been beaten by 20 or more in 30% of the games played during this time.

    Sadly, Pitt has been marginally-competitive in this rivalry for a sustained period. I don't think I'm alone in having run out of patience. 7 coaches in 30 years and it's always the same story. We lose, the new coach needs more time to get his players in place; four years later we're losing 52-20 to the hoopies and the coach is out the door. Enter new coach who needs more time to get his players in place.

    You don't see coaches of winning programs needing 3-4 years to get his players in place unless the talent is terrible where he has gone. Is that where Pitt football is currently, and if so, why did Wannstache get 6 years to put a pathetically-talented team together?

  11. A few comments:
    1. Sunseri should be playing DII ball somewhere. It's embarrassing that he has a scholarship, let alone starts for a DI program.
    2. Bennett is a very good back. If Graham comes back and is healthy Pitt should have a very good running attack. Shell could probably take a redshirt.
    3. The secondary, considered a weakness at the beginning of the year is pretty good. The linebackers are the weakness. They look like defensive backs with regard to size and strength.
    4. Receivers? Nuff said. I'd send recruiters to live in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Cali.
    5. I'm 47, and I keep hearing about the "brawl". I swear I don't even remember Pitt playing WVU when I was a kid... that's how big the rivalry was. The real rival was Penn State (day after thanksgiving, national TV BEFORE there were 300 ESPN channels), even though Penn State dominated. Dump the manufactured brawl, get PSU back on the schedule yearly (now that Joe is gone and given the scandal I'd think PSU wants the good pub). Good job of hyping a boring game by the Pitt/WVU marketing people.
    6. I still think Graham is learning how to coach at this level (yeah yeah I know the BE sux, AND he almost beat Oklahoma while at Tulsa). If I'm Oklahoma and I have to prepare for Texas, Nebraska, Ok St, etc., I'm surely going to take Tulsa lightly and not be as up for that game. If they played the next week after that game I guarantee you Oklahoma beats them by 30. I think Graham will be OK once he gets some speed and a better QB.
    7. Last one. Pitt needs to get bigger, stronger, and faster. When you look at teams like LSU those guys are huge, strong and noticeably faster than Pitt... not even close. Their DB's are as big as Pitt's LB's, or at least they look bigger.

  12. What's the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over again when you know it doesn't work - i.e. Todd Graham and his trusty sidekick Sunseri - a losing combination brought to us by the smug genius of Steve Pederson.

  13. Tony, have you seen Myers play? He's even worse. This is not Graham's fault. He doesn't want Sunseri to be the QB either but he has no options. The QBs he left were not good and that's compounded by the fact that Sunseri and Myers are horrible fits for this offense. When Voytik is in the system a few years, then we'll see what Graham can do. Vince Lombardi couldn't win with Sunseri because eventually you have to have your QB make a play or two.

  14. Pressure is mounting on Voytik. The entire Todd Graham era is going to come down to one player. I feel terrible for the kid, but you cant slice it any other way.

  15. Voytik cannot be the only answer at quarterback! Pitt has to get another competent quarterback from the roster they will have next year. To have your entire program rest on only one individual who is not even enrolled yet is ludicrous! This year if we had a decent quarterback we would have been able to weather Ray Graham going down because we had Zach Brown backing him up along with Bennett. Next year we will have even more depth at running back. We need to develop that depth as well at quarterback.

  16. Shell is not going to redshirt because of Bennett, guys, c'mon. Yes there is pressure on Voytik, but the bar isn't exactly set very high. I also cannot believe Graham won't consider Gonzalez next year at QB just to give him another option. The offense would be more effective without throwing a single pass with Gonzalez back there.

  17. Chris, I've seen lots of footage on Myers and it's obviously that he can play. His arm is a thousand times more powerful and accurate than Sunseri. While obviously not a Voytik type of player, it's obvious that he can "run". Myers' pocket presence - arguably Sunseri's greatest downfall - is quick and efficient, with a quick and accurate release in three seconds or less.

    The fact that Sunseri played the entire season, after showing everyone last year that he wasn't a very good quarterback, is really unacceptable. Graham dug is own grave - suspending Gonzalez and then converting him to an h-back; converting R. Jones to a receiver and only occasionally using him once or twice in the first quarter, completely abandoning him in the second half; putting Myers as the 3rd string QB under a 5'8" kid who probably has a better arm than Sunseri but truly can't see over the line.

    The offensive linemen don't even offer a hand to Sunseri after sacks. They just let him lie there and do nothing. Just like Graham lets him start and does nothing, except get exasperated after the game and wonder why Tino completely failed to "execute".

    A Tags said it best, "There's a 1 percent chance that if you have (three) turnovers, you are going to end up losing the game. Yeah, it's frustrating."

  18. "The offensive linemen don't even offer a hand to Sunseri after sacks. They just let him lie there and do nothing."

    Until you brought this up, I never really thought about this, but you're right. I don't remember the O-line helping the guy up after sacks, at all. Indicative of this team's and its coach's attitude towards its QB.

    I done with the needing of time to assemble talent and get a system in place. We'll know how good Graham's going to be next year. Good coaches succeed right away, which is why I think Graham spouted off preseason about how good this team was. Outside of QB, there is enough talent on this team to succeed right away. And Graham has to get a QB that can play immediately in this system.

    From 1996-1998, Oklahoma, went 3–8, 4–8, and 5–6 under John Blake, running the option. It hired Bob Stoops in 1999, who completely changed the offensive system. He also went out and got a little-recruited, junior-college QB to run a new spread, passing system. They went 7-5 and 13-0 the next two seasons.

    Pitt doesn't have to go 13-0, but it has to show marked improvement, including winning a sure-to-be mediocre Big East NEXT year. If Graham doesn't get a QB who can play immediately, he's either stupid, or has been told the JC route for QB's is off-limits. No way can you expect Sunseri to run this offense, nor can you throw a true freshman to the wolves and expect good results.

  19. I would not be surprised if Gonzalez was giving a serious look at QB next year. He's not the best passer but if Ray Graham is healthy enough to contribute, Pitt has three quality RBs and they should run most of the time next year anyway. I think with a run heavy offense, Voytik and/or Gonzalez would be better than Sunseri.

  20. Pitt could have won several games this year if its QB could have run for first downs.

  21. Do you think that Sunseri will play against Syracuse?

  22. I've seen Shell play a few times this year, and he looks great against slow, small guys in WPIAL AA, but I'm not sold. I agree that if Graham is healthy then Shell might be a candidate for redshirt. He's slow, and by his own admission he doesn't lift weights. I'm not convinced.

  23. Why all the gloom? Pitt covered.

    And isn't that the real Pitt tradition, terrible favorite, great dog (just not on the money line)?

    One bright sport for the season is that the defense has improved through the season -- of course, with Tino they get a lot of game day practice.

  24. If lowly recruited Isaac Bennett can be effective as a true freshman than I don't see why you would be pessimistic of Shell. Notice the amount of inside handoffs that Pitt has. Shell will be excellent at that. He's strong and he runs well between the tackles. I will be surprised if he does not have at least a good freshman season. But of course kids of his reputation bomb every year so we'll have to all find out together. But my money is on him having a very successful college career.

  25. He's from Western PA, obviously he's pessimistic. Bennett can be a very good back, however he doesn't have the game breaking ability and feet of Shell.

  26. Also, w/ a QB who can run a little bit, maybe they can ease him into the passing game. They already have simplified it a great deal for Tino, they can do the same with Voytik and he can actually run. A QB who can run makes the RB's much more effective. I think Voytik should be given every chance to start.

  27. I would say there is no doubt that Gonz. goes back to QB if they cannot pick up a jr college trasnfer. Would not surprise me if Meyers left and if things turn ugly, I could see Sunseri leaving. There is no doubt Graham is going to want to come back strong next year. He will be motivated, you will not hear him talk as much, he will do more of it under the rader. I do expect Voltik to start next year and do well. Now lets get Pitt basketball to a final four. Lets see if Jamie can make the adjustments that are needed. I say he does.

  28. Moving Gonzalez back to QB will be tantamount to admitting that Coach Graham made a colossal mistake earlier this year. Besides, I am not sure sure that Gonzalez is the answer either. He might be better then Sunseri but that bar is very low and is not the appropriate measure. Graham's offensive system requires a capable qb, otherwise your offense will be poor and you will leave your defense out to try (which is a reason why Pitt cannot hold on to leads this year).
    Even if Voytik can be a freshman starer, you are going to need a quality backup. With the qb getting 10-15 carries a game and playing with am empty set often, your qb will be exposed and likely to get injured.
    Pitt is likely to have qb issues next year and if Voytik somehow bombs, then coach Graham's tenure at Pitt will be in jeopardy.

  29. If Voytik bombs then Pitt will be looking for another coach.

    But the reason Gonzalez wasn't at QB this year was because, one, he was suspended and didn't get to learn the offense in the preseason, and, two, Graham had no reason to believe that Sunseri would be this bad. None of us did. That's why I can't blame Graham. Sometimes a kid just totally bombs and there's nothing you can do about it. And this is monumental bombing.

  30. For those ripping the choice to put Shanny back there for punts, who else would you put back there?

    Buddy Jackson? I wouldn't, he struggles to catch kickoffs.

    Corey Davis? I wouldn't, since he was, at the time, or #2 RB. If he goes down with an injury, what do we do?

    Devin Street? Nope, he got hurt too.

    With Shanny, at least the ball was caught. Was he going to do anything other than catch and fall, nope, but he was going to catch the ball.


  31. Devin Street didn't get hurt until after the punt.

    Graham will get 4 years to prove himself unless something happens where there are disciplinary problems with the players ... not likely that Graham will put up with that ... or the players damn near revolt on him ... not likely ... or Graham does something that is considered morally repugnant. The odds are with Graham getting at least 4 years to prove himself.

    Mind you, with even adequate QB play this team would probably at least be 8-3. Again, Graham played a role in Sunseri's struggles ... he rattled his own QB with his in game impatience and temper ... not to mention his early season finger pointing, which even though may have been somewhat correct still did nothing to help correct anything. But the situation is not nearly as dire as many emotionally and psychology abused Pitt fans perceive it as.


  32. Sunseri made two good long throws on target. Something he did not do all season. The throw to Street was impressive but Street blew the catch. And the bomb from Pitt's 2 yard line to Carswell was a good throw too. Unfortunately Drew did not have the guts to go make the catch. Both big plays by Sunseri that should not have failed. But Sunseri can't be the starting qb next year. I think he is the least capable qb Pitt has seen in a long time. Ditto the offensive line. The defense made great strides in their new system but the offense just could not make the same progress. Sunseri is just part of the problem although he clearly the biggest deficit Pitt has. While Pitt was in position to win more games that time will come in the years ahead. Given the problems this team had with personnel - whether from ability, injury, etc- they were lucky to play in the big east. Any other conference they might not have won more than one conference game.

  33. Doke:

    Help me to understand something. I am not trying to defend Sunseri at all, but what exactly does it mean when it is said that he needs to throw the ball away when he is pressured? I can understand what this means on an individual play or two. But he was sacked nine times. Was he supposed to throw the ball away nine times? Yes, this would prevent the lost yardage from sacks, but it wouldn't have gained any yardage. So can some of the sacks be justified in terms of him trying to make a play, but that his receivers were not getting open or the blocking broke down?

  34. Most of those nine times were at the end of the game and he does what he often does which is take three steps back, panic, and then run forward toward the line until somebody jumps on his back. He has no instincts at all when it comes to making decisions. The OL is not good for sure, and I have no doubt that the WRs are sometimes too slow to get open. For those reasons I know that on some plays there's not much Sunseri can do. But way too often he simply panics and makes bad decisions. Whatever the smart play would be he does the exact opposite. I hate feeling I'm piling on the guy but if I said anything less than he's a horror show at quarterback then people will know I'm lying.

  35. "aapm74 said...
    Pitt could have won several games this year if its QB could have run for first downs.
    November 26, 2011 3:56 PM"

    Pitt would have won a few more games if its QB could hit short passes in the flat.

  36. I'm not convinced that the offensive line is all that bad. Because of injury, they were juggled all season long. I don't know how you judge the run blocking because of the 'eleven in the box' situation they were faced with. As for the sacks, exactly which ones would you blame on the line...most were QB issues. Bottom line is that I believe that they developed more than we realize.

  37. Chris, thanks for saying loud and clear what other outlets are seemingly afraid to say: Tino Sunseri is awful.

    Courage, heart, blah blah. He's in a performance business, and he lacks every tool needed to succeed at the D1-A level. He's too short and scatter-armed, which aren't his fault. Our local hero is either too stubborn or too dense to listen to his coaches: simply count to three and move arm forward. That may or may not be his fault, but it doesn't matter.

    On his best days ('Cuse last year, USF and UConn this year), he's adequate. But under pressure, he quickly melts into the most inept QB ever to wear a Pitt uniform. Or certainly the worst since I started following the team (before I went there as a student) in 1973. (I'd add he's the worst QB playing at the D1 level this year).

    Coach Graham must Must MUST play somebody / anybody else next year. If not, he will flush the first three years of his regime down the toilet on Sackseri: this year for sure, next year (2012) if UConn Tino plays, and the following year (2013, perhaps their first year in the ACC) getting a RS freshman ready for the big leagues.

    If he plays Sackseri next year instead of getting the successor ready, no matter the reason, I predict Graham unfortunately will not survive to get a fourth year.

    Not to mention, if Sackseri is the QB next year, there will be a revolt of season ticket holders, with me at the head of that list.

  38. First of all, I'm at the point now that I will be shocked if Sunseri is the QB next season. I don't see any way that can happen because Graham will lose the team. Not to mention that I don't think Pederson will allow it.

    Secondly, great name.