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Pitt passing game still labors mightily

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quarterbacks missed their intended targets, center snaps hit the ground, linemen jumped offsides, and a safety returned an interception for a touchdown.

In other words, the Pitt football team Saturday proved nothing in its final spring practice that coach Paul Chryst didn't already know.

No one among the announced Blue-Gold crowd of 4,607 at North Hills' Martorelli Stadium had to tell him that his passing game needs work.

Quarterback Tino Sunseri, who had stepped up his game midway through the 15-practice spring, struggled early, eventually completing 13 of 27 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown on a rainy day.

He twice overthrew tight end Drew Carswell on what could have been big plays. Later, safety Andrew Taglianetti, who was Sunseri's high school teammate at Central Catholic, picked off an errant pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.

Backup Mark Myers was the best quarterback on the field. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 167 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown to receiver Brandon Ifill.

Nonetheless, Sunseri's confidence entering his senior season remains high.

"I don't think the passing game was out of sync," he said. "Guys were running open, and you just have to put the ball on people, and people have to understand certain route depths."

The offense scored five touchdowns in the two-hour scrimmage three rushing and two passing but the most potent offensive player was kicker Kevin Harper, who booted four field goals of 47 (twice), 25 and 24 yards. Backup Drake Greer added a 38-yarder.

"You are disappointed you didn't score, but there are still positives," Sunseri said. "We moved the football. We are making the right reads, making the right adjustments. Let's just finish plays."

Chryst, who said last week that Sunseri had separated himself from the other quarterbacks, said he saw plays on both sides of the performance spectrum.

"There are some good things and certainly moments you have to clean up, mistakes you have to eliminate," he said, "but it's pretty much what it's been like this spring."

Chryst made it clear that the next 3 1/2 months when players must work without the presence of coaches are as important as anything that happened this spring.

"Summer is a voluntary deal," Chryst said, "and that's why I think it's a great opportunity to find out what kind of team you are going to have. Will this team grow• Will this team improve over the summer• The great thing is it's on them. In the end, they are the only ones in between the lines playing.

"It's a great time for leadership and players to take ownership of their position."

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