Time for a much-needed break from the ACC stuff.
So there was a game Saturday, right. Right? Oh yeah ... that. We all know Saturday's game was a disaster and, well, I'm done writing about it. But long-term, Pitt's got bigger concerns - most notably the pass defense.
But after that, yeah, there's that whole quarterback thing. We looked at it recently, but it's time to do so again because there's still a cry to replace Tino.My stance has been pretty well documented here. I think Tino Sunseri did an adequate job last year as a first-year starter, but hasn't been as effective this season. That said, I don't see how you can pin last week's loss on him. He had plenty of mistakes, but in the end, he completed 70% of his passes and passed for 250 yards and threw a couple of scores. More importantly, the team was up by three touchdowns in the third quarter.
Tino's inaccuracies led to the defense in not getting enough rest, but he had plenty of help. Why Todd Graham continued to run a fast-paced offense in the fourth quarter was nonsensical. I get the whole 'high-octane' thing, but there's a time when you've got to play conventional football. There's no reason to leave 20 seconds on the play clock that late in the game. Pitt was up by 17 points in the fourth quarter and there's no reason to try to keep wearing out the opposing defense at that point. Run your plays, but burn time off the clock first.
So now, here we stand - again. Is Tino still the starter? Should he be?
Starting with the first question - I do think Tino is still the starting quarterback. I think he probably did enough to get another start and another opportunity from Graham. The second question, though, is a little more tricky.
Personally, I don't have a problem either way. If Tino gets another start, I've got no issue and if Graham wants to make a change, I can understand that, too. the thing to keep in mind, though, is that Tino's not likely to get much better this season. I wrote it in the recap - he is what he is. He struggled a bit at times (though, he was mostly steady) last year and hasn't played as well this season in learning a new system. I just don't see him breaking out and fixing all of his issues this season.
Trey Anderson is, to me, intriguing. I'm still in awe that he found a way to get through everything he did. If there's anything to learn from the case of Anderson, it's that Graham will let players compete. He is a walk-on true freshman that came into the Fall having missed Pitt's Spring camp. In a few weeks, he went from Pitt's fourth quarterback to the backup. We've only seen a bit of him in that Maine game, but he looked impressive in the small amount we saw.
While I can understand benching Tino, we've got to keep things in perspective. The system would be turned over to a true freshman that had no significant offers and has only been in Pitt's program for about two months. Such a move can of course work, but it's no guarantee. And if Chris Jacobson, who was injured in the Iowa game, is going to be out for any period of time, he'll be playing behind an even weaker offensive line.
But here's the reason why it may be time to make such a move.
Pitt is still in the non-conference season. Regardless of the record, Pitt's goal is to try to win a Big East championship. If Graham decides to start Anderson this game, he can get a feel for what he can do. If he implodes, Pitt is still 2-2 without having played a Big East game. He can go back to Tino, play the 'You're our best option and we're keeping you as the starter for the rest of the season' card. That way Tino's confidence isn't killed and he isn't looking over his shoulder over Pitt's final eight games.
The flipside is that Graham plays Tino again. If Sunseri looks better, you obviously stick with him. But if he looks just as bad (or worse), then you're stuck trying to make Anderson the starter for Pitt's first Big East game - a game against South Florida at home and one that is close to a must win if winning the Big East is the goal. A loss doesn't guarantee Pitt can't win the conference, but they'd likely need USF to lose two conference games while running the table themselves.
Yeah, good luck with that.
That USF game is a big one and it's surprisingly only ten days away. Regardless of what Graham does, he needs to get the quarterback situation figured out in a hurry.