Should Pitt be using a pro-style offense?

Pitt football Q&A with Paul Zeise

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Q: It was interesting to read your comments that the coaching staff won't put Stull in a bad situation so to get his confidence up. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Someone tell Dave Wannstedt that there is a true freshman running the show for USC and he'll be on display Saturday at the Horseshoe in Columbus (Ohio). Do you think Pete Carrol is worried about his quarterback? I doubt it. We can't win consistantly without a vertical passing game and if the coacing staff doesn't believe our senior quarterback can get the job done let's move on to the next guy. What are your thoughts?

Bob Fitzmaurice, St. Pete Beach, Fla.

ZEISE: I think the bottom line is this -- Stull's confidence was shaken a little bit in the Oregon State game. He seems to have struggled some in spring and in training camp. Dave Wannstedt knows that he needs a confident quarterback to win a lot of games this year. The worst thing that could have happened for Pitt is Stull comes out last Saturday and throws a few picks and looks terrible, then Sunseri comes in and isn't much better. So it was clear they wanted to build Stull up and bring him along a little bit slowly. I don't know if I agree with that completely -- I would have had him working on some more of the vertical passing game, but at least going on the road this week you have a quarterback who feels a little bit better about himself now and a team which is a little more confident in his ability to make passes and plays. And if he has another successful Saturday, it will get better and better and the hope is that he is back to where he was to start last season, when he was extremely confident in what he was being asked to do and did make some throws down the field under fire, like in the South Florida game when the Panthers absolutely needed it.

Q: It has been mentioned before that pro-style offenses in college can be successful, using Alabama and USC as examples. But Pitt does not have the advantages that these schools have (recruiting regions, larger alumni, etc). Plus Pete Caroll and Nick Saban consistently recruit five-star prospects. Is this style of offense really the best for a program like Pitt to use?

Jim Raible, Irwin

ZEISE: Shhhh! Don't say that, there are a lot of people around here who don't want to hear that. I happen to agree with you that there some built in disadvantages which will make it difficult if not impossible for Pitt to get to the level of the Texas, Oklahoma, USC-type teams out there. But that being said, it is the right kind of offense given the personnel that Pitt currently has. Now I know a lot of teams, like Boise State and Utah, have figured out that you can win a lot of football games against so-called superior teams with a gimmicky offense and defense. For that matter WVU proved that a few years ago as well. So while I agree that there is very good reason to play the kinds of PlayStation offenses people seem to love, I also think that a mixture of both conventional offense and spread formation stuff can work at a place like Pitt. I think you are correct, however, that it is hard to win big playing only a pro-style offense unless you have big-time talent on the offensive line and you have a quarterback capable of making teams respect his ability to beat them throwing if he is asked to. The Panthers are fairly easy to defend because teams aren't currently afraid of their deep passing game and there isn't much else to keep them off balance.

Q: I am shocked -- just shocked -- that Jonathan Baldwin is not part of the two-tight end, one receiver goalline package. Unless he's gassed, he should never leave the field. How can this be and has anyone in the media asked Dave Wannstedt why this is?

Lawrence Frankstone, Washington D.C.

ZEISE: It is not really that shocking. Cedric McGee is one of Wannstedt's favorites and the answer is he is in that package because he is a better blocker than Baldwin. I don't buy that, I think that is very shortsighted and I think not having Baldwin on the field in every formation possible is a mistake. But that was the answer -- that Pitt has a lot of good receivers who do a lot of good things and it is more than just the Jonathan Baldwin show. There just doesn't seem to be a really good reason to not have Baldwin on the field down in the red zone. But these are the kinds of decisions we've come to expect, know and love so I'm not sure anyone should be surprised by it.


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