So many thoughts raced through my mind while driving north on I-79 after Pitt’s 21-20 loss to West Virginia in Backyard Brawl 104.
No. 1 was the distressed look on coach Todd Graham’s face while he answered questions about quarterback Tino Sunseri and West Virginia’s 10 sacks.
Sunseri clearly held the ball too long on several sacks — something he has done most of this season — while failing to process what he saw in time to find open receivers. Graham said he was puzzled by the situation.
I don’t want to dump on the receivers today, because some of them were getting open, but Drew Carswell, Devin Street and Mike Shanahan could have helped their quarterback by making a couple of clutch plays that were available.
After 11 games in Graham’s offense, Sunseri has not mastered the rhythmic concept of 1-2-3, ball out, that is essential to making it go. And that’s puzzling because Sunseri is a bright student-athlete and a dedicated worker. Can it be that difficult? I don’t think so.
What is even more troubling is that Sunseri admitted to being “a little flustered” on Pitt’s last possession, while trying to keep an eye on the pass rush, look for an open receiver and not get called for intentional grounding.
The result: Four sacks, a fumble and one intentional grounding call in eight snaps when Pitt needed only to move 35-40 yards for a potentially game-winning field-goal attempt.
Here are a couple of stats that will drive any Pitt fan mad:
– Pitt had nine sacks and five pass completions in the second half.
– Pitt averaged 11 yards on its final 13 possessions.
– After taking a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, Pitt never moved beyond the WVU 46, except when Andrew Taglianetti recovered a muffed punt on the 33 in the second.
– When left guard Ryan Schlieper picked up a Sunseri fumble on the last play of the game and ran 18 yards, it was Pitt’s longest gainer of the second half.
– West Virginia had 10 sacks against Pitt, but only 16 in the previous 10 games.
The questions are now these: Will there be someone on the Pitt roster next year to challenge Sunseri for meaningful playing time? Is that someone on a high school or junior college team right now?
Graham needs to fix his quarterback position. He can’t afford to go through another season of sacks, incompletions, interceptions, quarterback indecisiveness and, worse, losing.
Pitt is 5-6, eliminated from Big East title contention and nearing the end of its worst season since 2007.
Another season such as this one will drive away fans in bunches.