Tag:Tino Sunseri
Posted on: March 7, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Graham promises 'high-octane' football at Pitt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The past few seasons, there haven't been many adjectives less applicable to Pitt than "high-octane." Even in the Panthers' best days under Dave Wannstedt, their erratic passing game and slog-it-out rushing attack -- on display in the cavernous, often frigid, choppy, rarely lively Heinz Field -- never made for appointment viewing. When arguably the most memorable game* of your team's past decade is the lowest-scoring bowl game in 40 years , yes, it's probably time to look for something a little more pulse-pounding.

So it's no surprise that Todd Graham has begun his Pitt tenure by promising exactly that :
Members of the Pitt athletic department distributed gray T-shirts to season ticket holders that had on them, in blue ink, "High Octane Football, Coming Soon to Heinz Field."

Those shirts summarized football coach Todd Graham's message to fans during a "Let's Talk Football With Coach Graham," event Sunday at Petersen Events Center: Next season his offense will stomp on the gas pedal, creating more offensive possessions and more explosive plays.

"This isn't nanotechnology or nuclear science," Graham told the crowd of approximately 2,000. "We are going to mentally and physically wear you out."

If Graham and co-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell live up to their talk, some information-processing nanotechnology might actually be necessary to help Panther fans understand what they're seeing; they promised to snap the ball within five seconds of it being marked ready for play, to run the two-minute offense the entire game and throw "10 40-yard passes outside the hash marks per game." Tino Sunseri throwing a three-yard check-down on third-and-13, this sounds like it is not.

What it sounds like, in fact, is a carbon-copy of the offense installed by Gus Malzahn when he worked under Graham at Tulsa. The question is whether Graham can transplant it to Pitt with any real success; even with Malzahn on hand, the Golden Hurricane defense (the side of the ball on which Graham, a former defensive coordinator, would have more input) struggled so badly opposite the high-tempo no-time-of-possession offense that Graham never did win a Conference USA title. And at Auburn, Malzahn reined in the tempo to a certain degree ... and won a national title.

So it remains something of a question mark whether the all-out offensive approach can work for someone who's not a Chip Kelly- level genius. But after so much time spent watching -- or sleeping through -- Wannstacheball, it's understandable that Pitt and its fans want to give it a shot.

*Personally, this blogger would argue for the Panthers' wild 45-44 loss to Cincinnati to see the 2009 Big East title slip away, but that game's not nearly as representative of the Wannstedt era ... nor one Pitt fans will want to recall any more than the Sun Bowl disaster.

Posted on: January 8, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Bowl Grades: BBVA Compass Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pittsburgh dedicates their 27-10 win to ex-coach Dave Wannstedt as the Panthers rolled over Kentucky.


PITTSBURGH

Offense: Pittsburgh used special teams play in order to build their lead, but it was a relentless rushing attack that protected it; keeping the Kentucky offense off the field and burning up clock. Running back Dion Lewis, likely playing his last game as a Panther, led the way with 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. Ray Graham pitched in as well with 17 carries for 90 yards. Credit Pittsburgh's offensive line for winning the battle up front against Seattle's defensive line. GRADE: A-

Defense: Whoever does inherit Pittsburgh's defense is awfully lucky, because they showed great promise for the future against a usually potent Kentucky offense. The Wildcats usually average 33 points per game, but without suspended quarterback Mike Hartline, and against the Panther defense they could not turn production into points. The Panthers defense swarmed to the ball and kept close tabs on all-purpose threat Randall Cobb as Kentucky tried to move him around the field. Cobb was held to just 23 yards rushing and 62 yards receiving, and basically was a non-factor in the game. GRADE: B

Coaching: Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett deserves a lot of credit for preparing Pittsburgh for this game even with all the off-field distractions. The Panthers players dedicated the win to former coach Dave Wannstedt, and Wannstedt also is due some credit for this team's success. Hopefully the Panthers will be able to take this win and use it to jump-start the preparation for next season. GRADE: B+

KENTUCKY

Offense: The Wildcats offense desperately missed suspended quarterback Mike Hartline against the Panthers, falling well short of their average 33.0 points per game. Backup Morgan Newton made the most of his opportunity, complete 21 of 36 passes for 211 yards and did not throw an interception. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to turn their production into points, and the inability to convert on 4th and short ended up costing Kentucky one of their best opportunities to win the game. GRADE: D+

Defense: Kentucky's defense has been known to give up some big days on the ground, but the inability to stop the run ended up being the Wildcats demise on Saturday. When Kentucky really needed to shut down Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, they had no answer. The Wildcats also failed to create a turnover down the stretch, which allowed PIttsburgh to continue burning clock as Kentucky watched their chances at two straight bowl wins slip away. GRADE: F

Coaching: Kentucky's special teams woes ended up creating a deficit that was too large to overcome against the Panthers. With one blocked punt and one failed fake punt, the Wildcats' mistakes left a sour taste with Joker Phillips and the rest of the coaching staff. The loss drops Kentucky to 6-7, the first losing season for Kentucky since 2005. GRADE: C-

FINAL GRADE: The only thing that made this game seem mildly watchable was seeing an inspired Pittsburgh squad win one for Dave Wannstedt. For the most part, the game was pretty uninteresting as Kentucky looked outmatched and unprepared in most aspects of the game. With the storylines off the field overshadowing the action on the field, this wasn't the ideal game to kick off a big day of football for most of the nation. GRADE: D+
Posted on: December 8, 2010 11:41 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 5:03 pm
 

Jonathan Baldwin is going pro

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that head coach isn't the only position that Pitt is going to have to replace next season.  Now that Dave Wannstedt has resigned, it seems Jonathan Baldwin's decision about what to do next year has become a lot easier.  Word was that the wide receiver had been leaning towards leaving Pitt for the NFL following his junior season, but now that he's faced with the prospect of having to play under a new head coach, that decision has been made a lot easier.
In fact, if you read what Baldwin told CBSSports' Chris Steuber, it sounds like he can't get out of Pitt fast enough.
Reached through text message Tuesday evening and asked if it was safe to say he would forego his senior year with Wannstedt stepping down, Baldwin responded, "No, it's not safe to say that. It doesn't change my quarterback!"
At first, it sounded as if Baldwin was non-committal on his future, but when asked, "Why would you stay [for your senior season] when you have no chemistry with QB Tino Sunseri, a new coach/system taking over next season and possibly hurt your draft stock for the 2012 draft, Baldwin clarified, "Oh, I misunderstood you ... Heck yeah I'm leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."

So to be clear, Baldwin has no problem throwing Tino Sunseri under the bus, and he believes there was a conspiracy theory amongst his own coaching staff to hurt his draft stock and get him to stay for his senior season.  He should fit in perfectly with NFL wide receivers.

Baldwin has 52 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: October 24, 2010 11:43 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Oct. 23)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Eight teams still have a shot at BCS berth - As crazy as it sounds, the perfect storm of circumstance has brought about a wide open Big East conference race.  The first major factor has been the scheduling.  For the most part, each team backlogged their conference schedule.  So while we are at the midpoint of the regular season, six of the eight teams in the conference are only two games into league play.  Even the seemingly hapless Connecticut Huskies are a Pittsburgh upset from climbing back into the race.  Knock the Big East as much as you want, but at the wide-open race will at least make each game interesting coming down the stretch.  
  
2. Syracuse isn't flashy, but they are getting it done - After getting throttled by Pittsburgh at home, Syracuse bounced back to stun West Virginia in Morgantown.  The Orange got right back to the same kind of tough football that helped them rattle off three straight wins, with aggressive defense and a solid running game.  When Delone Carter left the game with a hip injury, backup running back Antwon Bailey stepped and delivered a season high 94 yards on the ground.  The defense kept West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith guessing all day, disguising their coverages and blitzes to force a season high three interceptions.  Syracuse hasn't put together impressive victories (particularly not scoring a point after halftime) but if they can continue to stack the W's, the Orange could find themselves bowling in 2010.

3. Tino Sunseri has arrived - After a somewhat shaky start, Sunseri has come into his own as the leader of the Panthers offense.  The rushing attack has not been what it was a year ago in Dion Lewis' breakout season, but the sophomore signal caller has stepped it up through the air in conference play.  After five touchdowns in the first five games, Sunseri has connected with his receivers for seven scores in the last two weeks.  If he can continue to find playmaking wide receiver Jon Baldwin, like he did for 139 yards against Rutgers, Pittsburgh could be a difficult team to beat down the stretch.

4. There is some hope in Tampa for South Florida - To reiterate the earlier point, South Florida's 38-30 victory over Cincinnati on Friday kept the Bulls from falling all but out of the Big East hunt.  Not only did first year head coach Skip Holtz avoid starting 0-3 in the conference, but he got the best performance of the season from quarterback B.J. Daniels.  If Daniels' performance was more than just a flash in the pan, South Florida can do a lot to make up for the rough start.

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Posted on: September 23, 2010 9:19 pm
 

Miami leads Pitt 10-0 at halftime

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's a couple of things that both Dave Wannstedt and Randy Shannon wanted to see from their teams tonight. 

Shannon wanted Jacory Harris to limit turnovers and make better decisions with the ball following his four-interception performance against Ohio State.

Dave Wannstedt wanted to see his offensive line improve and open up running lanes for his running backs.

Well, at halftime, neither coach is going to be very happy but at least Randy Shannon can say he has a ten-point lead.

In a game that isn't going to win any beauty contests, Jacory Harris has thrown two interceptions -- including one in the end zone -- while Pitt has managed 76 total yards.  I'd say it's been ugly, but I wouldn't want to insult ugly.

Miami's touchdown came on their opening drive as the Canes went 80 yards in ten plays before Damien Berry punched it in from a yard out.  They added a field goal midway through the second quarter, and if it weren't for Harris' turnovers, odds are that Miami would have this game well in hand by now.

As for Pitt, well, what can I really say?  There are around 300 former Panthers in attendance at this game and every single one of them is probably embarrassed by what they've seen.  The Panthers didn't pick up a first down until the 7:30 mark of the second quarter, going three and out on their first five "drives."

The Panthers offensive line is just getting destroyed by the Miami defense and Tino Sunseri has spent most of his time just trying not to get killed.

That being said, Pitt still only trails by ten at the break, but unless Jacory Harris keeps turning the ball over it doesn't look like the Panthers have much of a chance.
 
 
 
 
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