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Thoughts on Pitt’s loss to West Virginia


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.



  1. bill says:

    Tino Sunseri does not have the ability to play quarterback at the D1 level. Pitt cannot continue to play him, even at this late stage of the season

  2. Don Lane says:

    Sunseri had a remarkable HS career. His father was a wonderful player.

    He’s a fine young man.

    He just can’t be the starting QB next year. He’s reached a level of competition to which he is not capable of functioning. He had that look of a “deer caught in the headlights” that was evident even from TV coverage. He looked that way in crucial situations even with Wannstedt’s offense.

    Refer to that old management book “The Peter Principle”, 1968.

    He’s reached his level of incompetence. Don’t prolong his agony or ours. Sunseri MUST be replaced in 2012, even if by a younger, but worse candidate who may be able to learn and progress for the future.

  3. JIMHELLER says:

    wow i thought it was just me that thinks tino is far below a good quarterback. i can’t watch him play. the final quarter of the game was too difficult to believe he is the best we have. i hope graham can pull a qb out of somewhere for next season, i will not be a fan if tino is playing the position.

  4. Jeff says:

    Dear Pittsburgh AD,

    What another great hire for you regarding the future of our football program! Let’s go out and hire some WVU coaches…well, they certainly put on a show for you last night in the Backyard “CRAWL”! Tino, run to the right for 2 yds, Tino run to the left 2 yds, Tino…sneak it up the middle for a 1 yd; now, let’s punt! There was no “Brawl” to this game whatsoever; no PASSION instilled in the players…it may have been the last one ever!!!

    Why don’t you hire a coach like Wanny who at least made halftime adjustments that benefitted the team? Mr. Todd Graham supposedly was this 50 point per game genius of an offensive coach who was supposed to fix the offensive woes. Well, he’s simply offensive! You don’t come into a pro set offense with pro set recruits and run a Rich Rod WVU offensive game plan all season long! This just proves that Mr. Graham is a terrible coach, because he can only run one system! He should have maintained the pro set for this year while recruiting players for his style for the future. Would someone also relay to Mr. Graham that you PLAY TO WIN THE GAME…you DO NOT PLAY NOT TO LOSE as indicated in Pitt’s EPIC failures in the Iowa, ND(ugh!), Cincy, and last but not least WVU final Brawl game!


    A Lifetime PITT fan whose father, wife, and wife’s family are all WVU fans. Thanks a lot, Todd Graham! Maybe, you threw the game???

  5. Thomas says:

    Tough loss for the guys …

    Something has to change … as you said, it has been disappointing and puzzling as to why this system isn’t working better.

    Unfortunately for Pitt fans, I think we’ve got to give this staff another 2 years to recruit and get their players into the system .. starting with the right QB.

    Go Pitt!

  6. John Schrenker says:

    This has been a very frustrating and disappointing season for one reason, too many losses because of indecision. The coaching staff has not done a good job with personnel, the quarterback has been inconsistent and the players have failed to make key plays. Face it, this team does not know how to win. Some of the individual players certainly do, but too many do not.
    The coaching staff has shown they can not manage a game. How many come from ahead losses (Iowa, Cincinnati, WVU) does it take before one questions the competency of the coaching staff and the heart of the team. How many game winning drives do they have this year on their last possession? (0-3, Utah, Cincinnati, WVU) Remember this is the same quarterback that lost the season opener last year at Utah by throwing an interception. He has a history of not playing well in the clutch.
    Finally, I think Pitt overpaid for this coach and Steve Pederson should have been fired for orchestrating the coaching change debacle. Dave Wannstadt looks pretty good by comparison and he deserved to be fired! Pitt can not be serious about football if the quality of the product on the field is any indication of their commitment.

  7. John Schrenker says:

    Another thought about Pitt. I’ve been following them since 1963. Their attendance is abysmal and going down fast. Check the history and you will see that even in successful seasons of 1973 to 1983 attendance averaged about 48,000. Sellouts only occur when Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State or WVU fans come into town. Pitt is second fiddle to the Steelers and probably always will be, but give fans a consistent winner and we might make the effort to come to a game again. Irrevelance is hard to take, so I hope Pitt can turn it around.

  8. Don Lane says:

    It is literally PAINFUL to watch Pitt ANY time after the first half. What happens? The opponent makes adjustments and coach is not able to make a “counter move” or even have the staff that can analyze what the opponent has done?

    It’s a pleasure to see them continually come up with good running backs year after year in the Tony Dorsett tradition. It was unlucky that Ray Graham went down with an injury, but his replacements have done well when the line gives them just the smallest crease.

    At least Wannstedt seemed to have a good rapport with the local high school talent which was helping bring local fans into the stadium, but local families coming into the stadium can only fill so many seats.

    Pitt……you need to make a final decision at some point in your history…..Do you want to compete at the Division I level and be a Top 50 team, or should we be scheduling Indiana U. of PA, Clarion, and Slippery Rock?

  9. Pat A says:

    Having been a Pitt fan over 55 yrs you realize mediocrity is the rule, except for period from 1973-1981. After Majors and Sherrill, Pitt’s coaches leave much to be desired. The decision to tear-down Pitt stadium followed by move to ACC will doom Pitt’s football and basketball programs.
    Who will come to see Pitt fb vs Duke, Ga Tech, Va, FSU…..?
    As for b-ball, Pitt needs the Big East more than the BE needs Pitt. Take a look at BC’s programs since leaving BE. Truth is, Pitt was better served in BE, and would be a better fit in Big 10 if you believe they want to promote football. That being said, the MAC would be a better fit than the ACC. Attendance would be comparabe, and the charade of wanting to be an elite fb program can be laid to rest.

  10. Paul Donohoe says:

    Tino is the worst qb in the last 50 years at Pitt. He cost Wanny his job. He cost his team a winning season this year. He is not a D1 quarterback. No matter how much influence Tino’s family applies to the PItt admin – he will always stink.

    Gonzales or Meyers. Please.

    I will be at the game in full throat letting Todd know to bench Tino. Maybe if the other 25,000 fans in attendance do the same Tino will be finally put where he belongs – on the far end of the bench.

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