With the incentive of getting jersey names back hanging before them, Pitt looked menacing on Halloween weekend, dominating Temple in a feel-good 47-17 win. While I, along with most, picked Pitt to win this game, I frankly had no idea what to expect given the enigmatic play of the Panthers this season. Getting a win was not only a boon to Pitt's bowl hopes, but also a pretty strong momentum-builder heading into South Bend for this weekend.
Bull (upward trending): QB Tino Sunseri
The senior quarterback completed 20 of 28 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns against the Owls. On the year, he's already thrown 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions, a spectacular improvement from last year's final numbers of 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sunseri just keeps getting better and better, says RJ Sepich of the Pitt News.
Now, almost an entire year later, Sunseri is no longer that nervous quarterback who finds the ball glued to his right hand when games come down to the wire or his team loses momentum.
After taking more sacks than any other passer in college football and throwing more interceptions than touchdowns last season, Sunseri’s transformation into a solid quarterback for first-year head coach Paul Chryst and the Panthers is complete.
And on Saturday afternoon against Temple, he was incredible.
All very true. Tino commanded the team, almost effortlessly on Saturday, and looked calm and efficient the whole game. He was at his finest when he led a 6 play, 62 yard drive to score a touchdown and go up 31-7 right before heading into halftime. He seems more comfortable than ever, and finally looks like the confident leader a quarterback should be. Sunseri's stock has consistently risen this year, and is now probably at an all-time high, heading into Notre Dame.
Bear (downward trending): The Coaching Staff
It's hard to pick out any problems from Saturday's game, but the one area which noticeably stood out to me was the penalty differential. Temple was only penalized three times for a total of 27 yards. Pitt? 11 times for 105 yards. Yikes.
Pitt has been one of the more heavily penalized teams this year, ranking 86 out of 120 on the 'Fewest Penalties Per Game' list. Penalties and sloppiness is one thing that is almost directly attributable to the coaching staff, so Pitt's undisciplined play doesn't reflect all that well on Coach Chryst & Co. Against a team like Notre Dame, penalties probably aren't going to sink Pitt. But in a close game against UConn or USF, numerous penalties could be very costly.