Share This Page

Respect for Sunseri never wavered

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 8:20 p.m.
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri is sacked by Syracuse's Brandon Sharpe during the first quarter Friday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. (AP)

Center Ryan Turnley treated the question with polite defiance when asked if the Pitt players' respect for quarterback Tino Sunseri is starting to grow.

“It's not that it's growing,” said Turnley, a fifth-year senior. “He already has it. We've had respect for Tino since he has been (starting). We know what he is capable of.”

Sunseri, a three-year starter, didn't have an exceptional game Friday in the Carrier Dome when Pitt scored only one touchdown in a 14-13 Big East loss to Syracuse. But he showed toughness and the desire to be a leader after an 11-yard run on third down in the second quarter when he took a knee to the back from linebacker Cameron Lynch and was having trouble breathing.

“The guy made a play,” Sunseri said. “He put his knee right in the center of my back. It kind of took the breath out of me. The trainers did a good job of helping me recover.”

Sunseri was down for several minutes before suddenly jumping to his feet and sprinting off the field.

“I wanted to make sure the offense knew I was OK,” he said. “I wanted them to see my reaction.”

Sunseri returned for the next series and led Pitt on a two-minute drill that resulted in a field goal at the end of the half.

Big numbers don't count

Sunseri completed 75 percent of his passes and threw for 319 yards — his second game in a row of more than 300 — but he came up short when the game hung in the balance.

His failure to know where he was on the field led to a 15-yard intentional grounding penalty that helped move Pitt out of field-goal range. Sunseri was sacked for a 9-yard loss on the next play.

Sunseri didn't like the official's grounding call, but he didn't whine about it.

“I knew the receiver was in the vicinity (of the throw),” he said. “I thought I was on the edge of the tackle box. You have to respect the official's call and you have to be able to play on from that.”

On the sack, no one anticipated defensive back Brandon Reddish blitzing from the corner and Sunseri never turned his head to look at him.

“It's something you have to be able to recognize,” Sunseri said. “But it's my job to right the ship on that.”

A little history

Devin Street had a career-high 10 receptions, but he was not impressed.

“I think we did a good job (in the passing game), not a great job,” he said. “We didn't get the job done.”

Street, a redshirt junior, became the 18th Pitt player with 100 catches (106, tying him for 15th place with Bob Longo). Senior Mike Shanahan had four catches and moved into a tie for 10th place with Oderick Turner (122).

Running back Ray Graham had his least productive game of the season, rushing for 57 yards. But he moved past Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and into eighth place on the all-time list with 2,648 yards.

Palko next

Sunseri has thrown for 1,463 yards in five games and needs 1,579 in the next seven (or eight if Pitt goes to a bowl game) to move into third place past Tyler Palko on the school's all-time list. Sunseri has 6,765 after starting the past 31 games in a row.

Williams steps up

Cornerback K'Waun Williams left the game with a leg injury, but his second-quarter interception in the end zone was Pitt's fifth of the season.

Pitt played much of the game with five defensive backs in an attempt to counter what had been a productive Syracuse passing game. Andrew Taglianetti started as the nickel back, along with cornerbacks Lafayette Pitts and Williams, who was later replaced by Cullen Christian, and safeties Jarred Holley and Jason Hendricks. Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for only 185 yards and no touchdowns after amassing 482, 322, 335 and 228 and a total of 10 scores in the first four games.

More mistakes

Pitt committed six penalties for a loss of 35 yards, bringing the five-game total to 36 infractions for 314 yards, compared to the opponents' 24 for 202.

“We are pretty much facing two opponents,” Williams said. “We just have to stop beating ourselves.”

Notable

Todd Thomas didn't start at linebacker, but he played for the first time this season and recorded one tackle. … Defensive linemen Aaron Donald and Tyrone Ezell recorded sacks, but Syracuse defensive end Brandon Sharpe had four. … Pitt has allowed 11 sacks in its two Big East games, two in the other three.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.