Pittsburgh Panthers: Tino Sunseri Poised To Become Leader of Panthers Offense

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent ISeptember 10, 2010

Sure, Pitt lost to Utah.  Sure, there were plenty of mistakes on both sides of the ball.  However, there are plenty of positives that the Pitt was able to take away from the loss.

Most notably was the play of quarterback Tino Sunseri, who everyone got to watch grow up right in front of their eyes. 

Sunseri struggled early in the first half of the season opener at Rice-Eccels Stadium.  Most of that was due to being put in terrible situations because of bad play calling.  For the first 45 minutes of that game, it appeared the only time that Sunseri had a chance to make a play was on a third and long situation.

After the Panthers fell behind enough in the fourth quarter, the training wheels were taken off Sunseri and that's when he played his best.  Pitt had their best drives of the game when Sunseri was allowed to make plays with his arm.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, once Sunseri drove the team into the red zone, on came the training wheels again and the Panthers had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.

The most impressive part, was Sunseri's demeanor and his attitude.  He was never rattled playing in a tough stadium.  He also wants the ball with the game on the line, which you want from your quarterback.  Maybe next time Dave Wannstedt and the rest of the Pitt coaching staff will give it to him.

That starts Saturday, when New Hampshire comes to town.  It's not a high profile game on the Panthers schedule, but it's a big game for the Panthers and most notably Sunseri.  He needs to continue to grow into a leadership role.  The first step in that process is winning. 

The Panthers need a win.  No matter the opponent.

Pitt has things to fix on both sides of the ball, but perhaps the most important area is the play calling.  Especially the red zone play calling.

Don't be afraid to give Sunseri the keys to the bus.  Once teams have to worry about game planning to stop him, running back Dion Lewis will see many more holes to run through. 

That's when the Panthers offense will be a complete unit and a tough one to slow down.

The kid is making his second NCAA start on Saturday, but he's talented.  The Pitt staff shouldn't be scared to call his number. 

They can start calling it on Saturday afternoon.