We're in the final stretch before game preparations for Youngstown State begin and suddenly, the week where we as fans should want things to settle down with a finalized depth chart is slowly turning the other way.
As is the case with any post this season involving the quarterback position, Tino Sunseri has secured the starting job. Any sort of positive note we get about Chad Voytik this season, as much as some fans wish otherwise, will not change the fact that Sunseri is the starter this season. Unless Tino has some really poor performances or gets injured, he will be the starter.
With that out of the way, Monday was the final two-a-day of fall camp and while the team as a whole ended the morning session poorly, the evening session was quite the opposite for Voytik. The freshman QB has had two outstanding practices where he has looked and played very well.
...Voytik looked supremely poised and comfortable in the pocket when Pitt wrapped up the last of its two-a-day practices in the indoor facility on the South Side. That came only hours after a ragged morning session that caused Voytik to tweet, "Bad practice this morning. Only good thing is we have another one later to make up for it."
Voytik did just that with several strong throws that caught the eye of many players, some of whom were shaking their heads out of respect after practice.
Voytik hit wide receiver Cam Saddler with a perfectly placed pass in the near corner of the end zone and later found freshman tight end J.P. Holtz for a score. A few plays previous, Holtz made a nice catch across the middle when he tipped a Voytik pass to himself while falling to the turf.
This was from Monday night's practice. I didn't want to get too excited because it's one practice and any player could have a good practice one time.
And then it happened again during Tuesday's practice.
Freshman quarterback Chad Voytik has looked very, very impressive in his last two practices. If it looked like a light switch went on last night, it stayed on today. He had a beautiful over the shoulder throw to Drew Carswell during the skeleton drill, and wrapped up the practice with a diving touchdown run in the rain. When Voytik understands the play, which, like any freshman, is not always the case, he can make things happen. We've also seen his mobility the last few days. He can make some plays with his feet (like a 20-yard run last night) but also seems to have pretty good throwing mechanics while he's on the run.
If Monday night's practice didn't fire up the Pitt message boards, I assure you that a second consecutive great practice on Tuesday did just that.
Again though, let's not overreact, despite how easy it is to do so. If you need a reminder, just remember who was also heralded as a great QB when he would look great in practice - Tino Sunseri himself. That's not to say that Sunseri is a bad quarterback. I don't think the multiple coaching changes has been harder on any other position as much as it has been under center, so his struggles are a bit understood.
But getting back to Voytik, I noted on Sunday after watching Saturday's scrimmage how much better he looked on the field than he did when I first saw during the first week of fall camp. Now we're really seeing the potential and it's hard not to get excited.
And by the way -it's also safe to say at this point that Voytik is likely the #2 QB on the depth chart after this week's performances:
There is no current quarterback controversy at Pitt, with fifth-year senior Tino Sunseri entrenched as the starter. But Voytik has seized the No. 2 job after an injury slowed sophomore Trey Anderson, and he is getting a firm grip on an offense that was foreign to him only a few months ago.
"He’s getting better with repetition," coach Paul Chryst said. "Not that every rep is always right or what you want it to be. But I think he is learning. He is taking advantage of the work he is getting."
Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph offered high praise of Voytik when he said, "It’s important to him. He has a lot to continue to learn, but I like his approach."
I know. You want to get excited about Voytik. You want to declare him the starter over Sunseri the second he throws his first incompletion or interception. He's going to lead us to conference championships, BCS bowls, and national titles after all. He's going to be Pitt's next Heisman Trophy winner.
Ease off of the pedal just a little bit now. He is, after all, a true freshman and still potentially heading towards a redshirt season - something I'm in favor of. Why waste a redshirt season and a full year of eligibility on Voytik getting a few snaps during blowouts? We could have four full seasons of him learning and perfecting the Paul Chryst offense. Then, we can get really excited.
Todd Graham may be the slimiest coach in America, but he left Pitt with potentially one great gift.