Some offensive progress shows for Pitt
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri on his team's new offense: "Guys are amped up and getting to the top of their routes, and defensive guys get a little bit slower."
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Pitt coach Todd Graham wants his offense in perpetual motion on down-the-field progress and between plays.
The man in charge of making that happen, the quarterback, has to harness the chaos without a huddle.
"It's really exciting," said junior Tino Sunseri, the Panthers' starting quarterback last season, after the fourth spring practice Tuesday. "It's really interesting because when you're going from a pro-style system, where you huddle each time, you can kind of gather your thoughts. [Now] you got to keep it moving, you can't talk to anybody, you can't make those adjustments in the huddle."
Sunseri will compete with redshirt freshmen Anthony Gonzalez and Mark Myers this spring. Sophomore Kolby Gray, a safety last season who entered spring camp as a quarterback, returned to the secondary to offset depth issues there.
Sunseri started 13 games last season, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,572 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is adjusting to the new system, but with some difficulty.
"I think you can see in the first few days, he was frustrated a little bit," Graham said. "'This is making me uncomfortable. I'm used to knowing what I'm doing.' I like that. I want him to experience that.
"What we're doing and how we're having him study defense is new to him. It's much more complex and much more complicated in what we're doing.
Quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge agreed.
"Most positions, you get used to it, but, at the quarterback position, sometimes you feel like you're in a blender, it's going so fast," he said, adding that Sunseri made significant progress Tuesday.
"The thing that I told Tino today was, about halfway through practice, I told him, your intensity level is exactly where I need it to be," Dodge said. "The first three, you kind of feel your way through it. The experience that he has as a 13-game starter kind of took over today."
The speed of the offense, Sunseri said, eventually will work to his and the receivers' advantage.
"Whenever you're moving ... you feel your energy going toward every throw," he said. "Guys are amped up and getting to the top of their routes, and defensive guys get a little bit slower. Since we've been able to go at this kind of pace for a couple days, you can see receivers are getting to the top of their drops a lot quicker later in practice."
Myers has the arm strength to make every throw, Dodge said, but also has the athleticism to succeed in the offense.
"Mark's come a long way," sophomore receiver Devin Street said. "Mark's a lot more athletic than I thought."
Myers said learning his teammates' assignments and understanding where to find the hot receiver came after a few practices and studying film of Graham's Tulsa teams.
"The first day of practice was chaotic," Myers said. "Everyone's calmed down a little bit, everyone's getting to know the offense a lot better, and we're moving the ball up and down the field."
Gonzalez's athleticism impressed the coaches, and Dodge said he made the most progress with accuracy and footwork.
"He was a great thrower on the move [in high school], he was not asked to do a whole lot of things in the pocket," Dodge said.
Graham said he was impressed with the quarterbacks' mentality as well as their performance.
"All three guys believe they're the guy," he said. "I like that. That's what I tell them, if you want to be the guy, you can't get your confidence from me. You got to believe you're the guy first and then show it."
First Published March 23, 2011 12:00 am