Bloodied, but with his head held high, Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri confidently met the media Tuesday, insisting his two-interception, two-fumble (one lost) performance against Iowa constituted his best game of the season.
“I would say it was my best game I played yet,” he said. “I was very pleased with all my reads. Even the interceptions were the right reads. I just have to put more air on the ball.”
Sunseri’s passing efficiency rating is 122.0, 73rd among the top 100 quarterbacks in the nation, with four interceptions and three touchdown passes, but he said he has a clearer understanding of the offense.
“The first couple of games, I was a little bit cloudy on some of the reads and some of the looks,” he said. “That is going to happen whenever you are getting into a game situation and you aren’t getting the same look as you are in practice and you have to make adjustments. We were able to make the adjustments and we were able to go down the field.”
– Coach Todd Graham said Sunseri, the pass defense and Pitt’s tendency to commit turnovers (six in three games) must get better, but the support for his quarterback has not wavered.
“We have a belief in what he is doing and believe he gives us the best opportunity to win and be successful,” Graham said. “He made strides in moving forward. We just have to eliminate the turnovers.”
– Redshirt sophomore inside linebacker Shane Gordon started the first two games, but he has been replaced by senior Tristan Roberts. Graham has gone for experience over athleticism.
“Max (Gruder, weakside inside linebacker) and Tristan, their experience in not making those mistakes has come into play,” Graham said.
“Shane is a very talented young man who needs to be on the field. He just has to learn what he’s doing.
“We have to put the best 11 out there who give us the best opportunity to win and we have to execute the scheme. That’s why you see him in a backup role right now.”
– Pitt’s defense has been on the field for 256 snaps (compared to 221 over the first three games last year), and it has allowed 41 points in the fourth quarter, but only 13 in the first half.
Senior defensive tackle Chax Alecxih said playing that many plays can take a toll.
“I won’t say we were beat,” he said. “We are very well-conditioned, but when you are playing that many snaps, it is hard to keep lining up and going as hard as you can every play. We have to work on that. We have to work on finishing games.”
Last year to start the season, Pitt gave up 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime against Utah, New Hampshire and Miami.
– Senior right guard Chris Jacobson left the Iowa game with what appeared to be a knee injury. If he can’t play against Notre Dame, it would cause a major shift in personnel on the offensive line.
Cornerback K’Waun Williams said he hurt his leg, but he expects to play.
Graham, whose hamstring still hurts after he ran down the sideline to call a timeout at Iowa, does not comment on injuries to his players, citing competitive concerns.
“You can talk about mine all you want,” he said.