Time Is Right for Paul Chryst to Make a Quarterback Change at Pitt

Eric ReuscherContributor ISeptember 7, 2012

Tino Sunseri unable to elude the Bearcat's pressure.
Tino Sunseri unable to elude the Bearcat's pressure.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

QB Change Needed at Pitt

It’s time for Pitt Head Coach Paul Chryst to close the book on the sad and unfulfilled saga of Tino Sunseri as the Panther’s starting quarterback.

Chryst needs to send a message to his team that the season isn’t lost and he is building towards the future—a future that does not include Sunseri as the top signal caller from here on out. This season is about Coach Chryst starting a new book, and the first chapter should be naming a different starting quarterback.

The fifth-year senior has had plenty of opportunities to show he is worthy of being the No. 1 quarterback at Pitt. Sure, he’s had a rough go of it with four different head coaches in three years, but the results speak for themselves.

If, at any time,Sunseri was to succeed, it would be this year in this system. It is a system similar to the one he ran under Dave Wannstedt in 2010. Chryst has presented a run first, pass second offense that takes the pressure away from Sunseri.

Through two games of 2012, the end product has been disastrous. Not even discussing the program defining loss to 1-AA Youngstown State to open the season at home (he had the whole offseason to prepare for that challenge), Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati should give Chryst plenty of reasons why he needs to make the change.

And it’s not about statistics.

On the stat sheet, Sunseri was a respectable 24 of 37 (64.3%) for 278 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Granted, a large majority of those throws came against the second string defense of the Bearcats that led to Pitt’s only touchdown with 34 seconds remaining to play (7 of 8 for 76 yards), but stats are stats.

I’m talking about the intangibles a quarterback needs to have to be successful. Pocket presence, knowing when to throw the ball away and game management.

Three examples of these factors were front and center in the Cincinnati game.

Pocket Presence: An attribute Sunseri has never developed nor will he.

He was sacked 6 times versus a good Cincinnati defensive front. Of those sack three were the offensive linemen’s fault, while the other three were bad decisions by Sunseri by holding onto the ball too long or trying to evade the rush.

His fumble, five plays after Cincinnati’s opening score, led to another Bearcat touchdown and Pitt was in a hole, 14-0, five minutes into the game. His lack of mobility is becoming a huge liability more and more every game.

Knowing when to throw the ball away: The interception he threw was in the end zone. It cost the Panthers an opportunity to generate momentum still trailing 14-0 with 6 minutes to play before the half. He forced a ball into double coverage on a pass that only person Matt Barkley of USC could complete. Take the points, Tino!

Game Management: Pitt returned to the red zone in the waning moments of the first half. It was first-and-goal at the Cincinnati two-yard line with five seconds remaining.

Most quarterbacks have an internal timer that starts as soon as the ball is snapped. As kids most of us played with the Mississippi count in the back yard, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. Sunseri either was unaware of how much time was left or his Mississippi clock doesn’t work.

The end result was a harmless floater that sailed between the goal posts as the first half expired. See the above point regarding throwing the ball away. It was wrong time to throw the ball away Tino.

The Panthers are unable to leave points on the field regardless of who they play. That’s 10 points when the game still mattered.

Would it of made a difference?

I don’t know, but I would like to see it play out.

Pitt fans are a patient bunch, but it is beginning to wear thin with Sunseri.

Many would rather see a true freshman or sophomore who will be with the program for the next three or four years making these mistakes. They would be more amendable to mistakes such as these. It’s what’s called the learning process. Unfortunately for Pitt fans, Tino is repeating what they have seen the last three years under his direction.

It’s Groundhog Day all over again.