Pitt Notebook: Decision to play Bostick in final minutes questioned

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- So much for the redshirt and so much for the theory that Pat Bostick is the quarterback of Pitt's future.

In a curious personnel decision, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt played Bostick for the final five minutes in the Panthers' 42-21 win against Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium yesterday.

Bostick handed the ball off three times and then took a knee as the final seconds ticked off the clock, which means he now is not able to take a redshirt, and he has lost -- some will probably say wasted -- this year of eligibility.

Heading into the season, coaches were adamant that the plan would be to redshirt Bostick, thus preserving a fifth year of eligibility for him, and let Bill Stull hold the starter's job for this season and next. Under that plan, Bostick would then have two years of eligibility to be the starter once Stull graduated but now that he's played in a game, he will only have one. Theoretically, though, he could take a redshirt next season and still have two seasons, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Wannstedt was cryptic in his answer about Bostick's redshirt.

"We're trying to win games and [Bostick] is our back-up quarterback right now and if something happens to Billy [Stull] he has to go in and play," Wannstedt said.

When asked a follow-up question about whether he was concerned about preserving Bostick's redshirt, Wannstedt answered sternly, "No."

Bostick came to Pitt as one of its most heralded and decorated quarterback recruits in recent history and started last season when Stull went down, but lost the job in the spring.

That's when coaches talked about redshirting him and working on his physical skills, his conditioning and his mechanics.

Shining stars

It is an old sports clich?? -- big-time players must make big time plays -- but yesterday it held true to form for Pitt as the Panthers got huge performances from both of their stars: All-American middle linebacker Scott McKillop and tailback LeSean McCoy.

McCoy rushed 18 times for 156 yards and scored three touchdowns, and McKillop had a team-high nine tackles. His ability to stuff the middle of the line was a major reason the Panthers were able to stuff Navy fullback Eric Kettani.

Their effort didn't go unnoticed by Navy's coaches and players.

"That guy [McCoy] is good, he is going to be playing on Sundays," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Don't be surprised to see him in Honolulu [at the Pro Bowl] in a few years. He is a good of a back as we will see this year. Give Pitt credit their two stars played well. We had a hard time blocking McKillop on offense and we had a hard time tackling McCoy on defense."

Navy slot back Shun White added, "Their middle linebacker was all over the place. We couldn't get a body on him."

Quick Hits

Junior Gus Mustakas started at defensive tackle in place of junior Mick Williams, who did not make the trip due to a concussion. It was Mustakas's first start of the season and the 15th of his career. ... Pitt should make a jump in the Associated Press rankings. The Panthers entered the week ranked No. 23 but No. 16 Kansas, No. 18 North Carolina, No. 20 Michigan State, No. 21 Wake Forest and No. 22 Vanderbilt all lost. Pitt should also make its debut in the USA Today poll, as it has been near the top of the "receiving votes" category the past few weeks. ... The Panthers got through the game relatively healthy, though they did likely lose defensive tackle Tommie Duhart for a week or two because of an ankle injury. "I think the only guy who really got hurt was Tommie Duhart, he got an ankle pretty good, he got chopped," Wannstedt said. ... A number of players made their debuts in the waning moments, most notably highly touted redshirt freshman offensive guard Chris Jacobson. ... Pitt had season-highs in total yards (499) and rushing yards (244).

Paul Zeise can be reached at pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.


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