Q&A: Putting to rest the Sunseri-Bostick debate ... for now

Pitt football Q&A with Paul Zeise


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Q: Is it me or do the defensive coaches have trouble with adjustments during games? Utah ran that crossing route and Miami the 10-yard out that couldn't be stopped.

Scott Shap, Squirrell Hill

ZEISE: Actually I think the defensive coaches have done a very good job this year of changing things up based on how the game is going, and I would point to the Utah game as exhibit A.

In the early part of that game, Pitt was in its base 4-3 defense and Utah's quarterback had all day to throw and he picked apart Pitt's defense. But late in the second quarter, Pitt started to bring some blitzes and really put some pressure on him and the result the first seven times Pitt blitzed was he went 0-of-7 and threw an interception.

So while it is fashionable to say they sat in their base 4-3 all night, they didn't. Utah caught them in one blitz for a long touchdown but it was a miscommunication between safety and corner and had the corner heard the call he likely would have jumped the route and picked it off.

Against Miami, what they were doing was working -- particularly in terms of getting to the passer. Pitt was right in that game despite a putrid offense and they were able to get pressure on Jacory Harris.

I think one thing we've seen from this defensive staff over the past three years is a lot more willingness to concede they aren't playing pro-style offenses every week and thus have to be creative. And I think with Taglianetti back healthy we will see more of the subpackages this week against FIU's spread.




Q: Do you think Pitt's past is causing the teams current problems, meaning Dave Waandstadt's relationship with Sal Sunseri? Tino is obviously struggling and for a guy who has saved Dave's job several times with big time wins (remember @ Notre Dame 2 years ago), Bostick seems to be pushed aside in favor for a "favor" if you will

Chuck Kukic, Elizabethtown, Pa.

ZEISE: OK, I'm going to put this at the top of the "idiotic conspiracy theories on why Pitt football is struggling" for two reasons: 1.) Tino Sunseri hasn't been the problem and 2.) the reason he is playing has nothing to do with who his dad is and everything to do with the fact that right now, he is the best option the Panthers have.

Sunseri played pretty well against Utah in a very hostile environment, he played well against New Hampshire, and he struggled against the best defense he'll see all year -- the same defense that sacked Pat Bostick on his first play and picked him off twice.

While we are at it, can we please stop this "Bostick won the two biggest games on the road" nonsense because it is irrelevant and more importantly it is selective reasoning.

Yes, he was the starting quarterback in both games -- and he did a great job of handing the ball off to LeSean McCoy who ran 70 times for 317 yards in those games. But Bostick, you do remember, threw one touchdown and five interceptions in those games. Let me repeat that: FIVE interceptions and one touchdown. In the West Virginia game in 2007 he was intercepted on the first pass and it was clear they didn't let him throw again until he absolutly had to.

Again, this is not to be critical of Bostick, it is a reality check for some of you people who can't seem to let it go and don't want to let facts get in the way of waxing poetic about the two greatest examples of a team winning on the road -- despite the quarterback -- in the history of college football.

Tino Sunseri is the starting quarterback of this team and will be given every opportunity to see how well he can progress over the next few weeks. If he falters against Florida International and he fails to get it done against Notre Dame, then there will definitely be some changes made and it will be Pat Bostick's team and he is a capable veteran with a lot of moxy and a lot of heart and I'm sure he'll attack the job and play to the best of his ability.

Let me make it clear, I like Pat, I like him a lot -- he is one of my favorite kids I've ever covered. He is a smart kid, a very respectful kid, he gets it -- he really understands football and I think he can do the job if called upon. But at this point -- three games into Sunseri's career -- it is pointless to have this debate, especially given the caliber of competition he had to face. It wasn't like he played Kent State, Ball State and Youngstown State the first three weeks -- he's played two excellent teams and one of them on the road.




Q: I keep hearing about all the talent that he has brought in, but for the most part I have yet to see any of it. Is the talent truly there and if it is, why aren't we seeing it on the field?

Steve Paxton, Columbia, Md.

ZEISE: There is a lot of talent at tailback. There are a lot of very good young defensive backs on this roster. Some of the young linebackers have a chance to be very good, and the defensive line is loaded. There is an abundance of talent at receiver and with Hubie Graham eligible next year and Brock DeCicco benefitting from a year of experience as well as in the weight room, the tight end position is in good hands for the future as well. I also think Mark Myers is a legitimate "franchise" quarterback, looking at his size and watching him throw the ball.

Now, the one glaring hole in this roster is at offensive line and I'm not sure the young guys are any better than the guys currently playing. One of the things that is somewhat frustrating, however, is there are far too many cases of guys getting to play based on experience over younger guys who may be more talented. I think in college football you have to get your most talented players on the field and let them grow and develop because their upside is always going to be higher than less talented guys.

In sum, we probably haven't seen as much talent as the roster actually has because a lot of it is very young and thus not in getting on the field.



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