Pitt quarterback Tom Savage delivers the football as Trey Anderson watches during practice at the team's South Side facility.
By Sam Werner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There was never too much drama or intrigue, but Pitt coach Paul Chryst put to rest any uncertainty Wednesday when he named redshirt senior Tom Savage the Panthers' starting quarterback for this season.
Savage has been taking most of the first-team snaps since the beginning of spring practice, but, until Wednesday, Chryst had declined officially to name a starter between him and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik.
"I feel really good and confident in Tom, but certainly like the direction Chad is going," Chryst said. "Certainly camp is part of it, but it's a compilation of everything. I think right now, [Savage] gives us the best chance for our team to win."
Savage is in his second year with the Panthers, but had to sit out the 2012 season after transferring from Arizona. He spent the year as a walk-on and served as the scout team's quarterback.
The move to Pitt was Savage's second transfer in two years. He started for Rutgers as a true freshman in 2009, winning nine games for the Scarlet Knights and throwing for 2,211 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He struggled with a hand injury as a sophomore, though, and never regained his starting job.
Savage transferred to Arizona, but left after just one season (which he sat out) when new coach Rich Rodriguez brought in his spread offense.
At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Savage seems like a much better fit for Chryst's pro-style attack.
"He's done a good job," Chryst said. "I think he got familiar with it last year, but I think really bowl practice was the first time where he got to run it and execute it, make mistakes and be able to come back and repeat that."
One dimension that Savage should add to the offense is his ability to throw the deep ball. He has a strong arm, and set a Big East Conference record for passing yards as a freshman at Rutgers.
In practice, he has shown off his arm and developed a rapport on deep passes with receiver Devin Street.
"I think you're always trying to figure out what guys do best, what they feel most comfortable with," offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. "I think [quarterbacks coach] Brooks [Bollinger] does a great job, and Paul [Chryst] has done a great job of just kind of being observant to that and trying to help guys find that menu that fits them."
Savage said he was thrilled to hear the news -- which Chryst told him and Voytik Wednesday in the quarterback meeting room -- but also knew he had plenty of work to do.
"Obviously, I was excited, but I'd be a fool to take it any more than that," Savage said. "Especially with what happened to me in the past [at Rutgers], I can't become complacent with it. It's a privilege, and I have a lot of room to improve."
The announcement also doesn't mean that Voytik will be cast to the side. Chryst said Wednesday that he still will put an emphasis on the redshirt freshman's development. Especially with true freshman quarterback Tra'von Chapman's status on the team up in the air after legal troubles, Voytik is the odds-on favorite to be the starter in 2014.
"I think once you get into game-plan specifics is when you see a significant change in the amount of reps," Chryst said. "Right now, fortunately, we're getting enough work that they both, I think, can have a good workload."
Savage also said that his now-official position as starter hasn't put a strain on his relationship with Voytik.
"Me and Chad have been communicating back and forth for the past year now," he said. "We're all on the same page. It's a friendly competition. He's going to keep pushing me, and I'm going to keep pushing him to become better."