Sam Werner's Pitt football chat transcript: 9.13.12
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Pitt13to9: Thomas and Williams...any chance they play?
Sam Werner: There's certainly a chance both are active this week. Both practiced this week, and for Thomas, that's the first time since early in camp that he was out on the practice field. Williams was in a green no-contact jersey.
Chryst is very tight-lipped when it comes to injuries, so it's impossible to say definitively whether or not they'll play. I wouldn't be surprised to see both as "game-time decisions" where they're in uniform and test things out pre-game before they make a decision.
Guest: Did Chad V get any extra reps this week?
Sam Werner: Not in the practice time that we saw, no. Tino Sunseri is the starter.
Pitt13to9: What would you say is the main reason the defensive line has struggled so much, especially considering how talented they are as a group?
Sam Werner: I think it's the scheme, to a certain extent, in that they're learning a new defense with new responsibilities. That means different assignments, different gaps to attack.
But the biggest thing for the defensive line is a lack of depth. Guys like Aaron Donald, Tyrone Ezell and T.J. Clemmings are certainly talented, but you just need more quality players to make a good defensive line. The best defensive lines (Alabama, LSU, etc.) are so good because of their ability to rotate two or even three full lineups in and not have a drop-off. Pitt has one right now. More depth also creates more competition in practice and motivation for the starters.
LateefGrimmReaper: How is this line only 10 points? What in first two games has this team shown that indicates they can stay relatively competitive vs. a top 15 team?
Sam Werner: I can't answer for why the line is what it is, but I will say that the bookies in Vegas are typically pretty good at their jobs.
scott: if pitt gets blown out by VA Tech and Tino stinks up the joint what do you think are the chances we see Voytik for at least a few series if not starting vs. Gardner Webb?
Sam Werner: Still very, very slim. The plan right now seems to be to redshirt Voytik, and I don't think they'd want to change that barring a major injury.
Upset the turkeys: Have you heard anything about Foster and Johnson. With our play recently would we still be an option
Sam Werner: That would be Robert Foster and Dorian Johnson, I assume. Pitt is still very much in the mix with both of them. While the 0-2 start certainly isn't great, there are still 10 games left to play. Plus, Pitt can win some points now by giving guys like Rushel Shell extended playing time and showing that, if those guys come to Pitt, they'd have a chance to play right away.
Losing definitely isn't good, but there are plenty more factors that go into a recruit's decision that Pitt still has in its favor.
Burgboy: Are the receivers not getting open downfeild or is it just that Tino is doing his best Macky Sasser by not throw the ball.
Sam Werner: I think it's a little bit of everything, especially in the Cincinnati game. A lot of times Thursday he had barely any time to throw before the defense was on him. He still needs to improve his decision-making and just decisiveness in general in terms of getting the ball out, but that's also on the receivers to run crisp routes.
Guest: So do you see Pitt as writing this year off? Wouldn't a team playing to win play the best QB option they have.. even it means throwing out Voytik's redshirt? How is Sunseri the best option Pitt has?
Sam Werner: You'll have to ask Dave Wannstedt about why Tino is the best option Pitt has right now. He whiffed on virtually all of his quarterback recruits, which is the biggest reason Pitt's in the situation it's in at quarterback now.
But, folks, the fact remains that Sunseri IS the best quarterback option for Pitt. Voytik had two good practices in pre-season, but that's about it. It's exceedingly rare for a true freshman to start at QB for a BCS conference school, and even rarer for that freshman to succeed. It just doesn't happen. While I agree that Pitt should, theoretically, be in a better position depth-wise at quarterback (like a lot of positions), the fact is they're not. Given the players on the current roster, Sunseri is the best option and it's not really that close.
LateefGrimmReaper: Who, in your opinion, is the most responsible party for Pitt football in the current state that it is in? Pederson, Nordberg, one of the coaches???
Sam Werner: It's impossible to pin everything on one person. The coaching changes have hurt the program -- both on the field and from a recruiting standpoint. Todd Graham leaving the way he did didn't help, and even recruiting during the end of Wannstedt's tenure had tailed off a bit. There are so many forces shaping the kind of shape a college football program is in, it's impossible to put it on one person or party.
BigBeckDawg: Even if Tino is, in your opinion, Pitt's best option, why not try some of the lesser options when Pitt is down big? Not like they could do much worse.
Sam Werner: For Voytik, they want to preserve his redshirt. I think Pitt fans have seen enough to know that Trey Anderson isn't really the answer there.
Also, playing in a new system, Sunseri still needs all the game reps he can get, even if its in a blowout situation. He can still get more comfortable in the new system (the third of his career) which should theoretically help down the road this season.
A: What should we expect from Pitt's safeties this week?
Sam Werner: Hey! A non-quarterback question!
Sam Werner: Jarred Holley and Jason Hendricks will be the starters, we saw that much against Youngstown State and Cincinnati. But I would be somewhat surprised if they didn't mix in Taglianetti and Vinopal a little bit more than they did against the Bearcats. Logan Thomas might be the best quarterback Pitt plays this season, and Tags seems to have a nose for the ball in pass coverage. Plus, Tags and Vinopal are, quite frankly, too good to be playing only on special teams.
Doorman: Why is Shell not redshirted this year too? Would love to see Voytik and Shell playing together for the next four years....bring in Foster and Coles and now lets talk High Octane!
Sam Werner: Speed, speed, speed.
Shell is just too good to put a redshirt on him. I don't think anyone that saw him Thursday night would argue that he's good enough to play and be a factor right now. With questions around Graham's knee (even though he's progressing well), they need as many quality running backs as they can get. Plus, given the type of talent he is, Shell may not be a guy that sticks around for all four years.
Guest: What has happened to Aaron Donald? Is he being told to not make a push upfield due to new philosophy of coaching? I would think in 4-3, the dline would attack
Sam Werner: Spoke to Aaron yesterday, and he said the plan for the d-line is still to attack and cause disruption in the backfield. The problem is, they're just not doing that.
The biggest problem for Donald right now is that he's getting double-teamed on basically every single snap. That's nothing new for him, but with no one else on the defensive line showing the ability to hurt opponents, opposing lines can focus exclusively on Donald. He needs to get a little bit better a splitting double teams, and the other linemen need to give offensive lines a reason to not double-team him.
Sam Werner: That's all for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by, and please join me again at the same time next week. Paul Chryst will have his final media briefing of the week at 2:15 today, so I'll have an update from that up on the Redshirt Diaries blog. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @SWernerPG.
First Published September 13, 2012 1:12 pm
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