There is no quarterback controversy in Pitt coach Todd Graham’s mind. Not even close. Not now.
But the message boards, talk shows and even some reasoned water cooler talk will try to ignite one. Give them time. It’s coming, whether Graham or Trey Anderson likes it or not.
This is Pittsburgh. Anderson is the backup quarterback, which automatically makes him the most popular guy in town whenever the starter struggles.
Right now, the perception is that Pitt starting quarterback Tino Sunseri is struggling. Two interceptions in one half say so, but Sunseri’s protection was poor against Maine (Maine?). Would it have been any better if Anderson was catching the snaps? I don’t think so.
Still, Sunseri isn’t blameless. What was up with running out of bounds, instead of throwing it out of bounds, which would have saved a sack?
Plus, he threw no touchdown passes after getting one against Buffalo (Buffalo?). His overall completion percentage isn’t bad (37 of 63, 58.7 percent), but it isn’t great, and it needs to be as long as the defense is going to be mediocre.
He has thrown for 403 yards in two games, but some of those nine sacks are on him.
“We took some sacks,” Graham said.
Nonetheless, benching Sunseri in favor of Anderson would be a mistake, and Graham knows it.
Yes, I think Anderson has an ally in quarterback coach Todd Dodge, who tried to recruit him to North Texas State. But Anderson is 2 inches shorter, 35 pounds lighter and significantly less experienced than Sunseri. As late as July, Anderson was making plans to join his high school buddies at Tyler (Texas) Junior College. Is he really the guy you want running the show in Iowa City on Saturday?
Maybe Sunseri won’t be able to defeat Iowa, but chances are, Anderson wouldn’t win the game, either.
And you don’t want to go back and forth between quarterbacks. You see how well that has worked at Penn State.
– Graham is confident that Sunseri will be fine whenever he gets comfortable in the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.
But he isn’t surprised that Sunseri has been slow to make big plays.
“Every single one of them we have had (his quarterbacks at Rice and Tulsa) have struggled in the first two or three games,” Graham said. “He is learning a new system and I think that is what you seeing.”
The point is: It takes time to perfect this offense, and the situation might get better.
“The best teams we ever had have had some of the worst wins,” he said.
The fact that Pitt is 2-0 while suffering the growing pains is a credit to athletic director Steve Pederson, who scheduled two weak teams at the outset of the season.
– Pitt may have a problem in the kicking game after Kevin Harper missed a field goal and extra point against Maine. He also missed two field goals against Buffalo.
Harper needs to get better; the backup is senior Chris Yankoski, who played soccer and volleyball at Plum. He didn’t kick for the football team.
“(Harper) makes every field goal in practice,” Graham said. “We have to get more consistent about what we are doing there.”
– In case you are keeping score, Big East teams were 4-4 this weekend. But here are the Big East victims: Maine, Norfolk State, Rhode Island and Ball State – three FCS teams and a MAC.