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Pitt football notebook: Sunseri, Street eye personal marks

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 6:38 p.m.
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Getty Images
Getty Images
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Getty Images
Pitt running back Rushel Shell dives into the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown against Louisville on Oct. 13, 2012, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt running back Rushel Shell dives into the end zone for a second-quarter touchdown against Louisville on Oct. 13, 2012, at Heinz Field.

Pitt is winless after three Big East games. Hopes for a Big East championship are gone.

The Panthers (2-4) will reach minimum bowl eligibility only if they reverse their fortunes and finish on a 4-2 run.

So what does that leave?

Quarterback Tino Sunseri and receiver Devin Street have a chance to place themselves among — and possibly surpass statistically — the best players at their positions in Pitt history.

Sunseri, a fifth-year senior and three-year starter, needs to average 257.6 passing yards per game to pass Dan Marino and finish second on Pitt's all-time passing list.

If that sounds outrageous, it isn't.

Sunseri, who is fourth behind No. 1 Alex Van Pelt, Marino and Tyler Palko, has thrown for 1,750 yards — an average of 291.6 — in six games.

He is on a pace to throw for 3,500, which would be the second-best season in school history behind Rod Rutherford's 3,679 yards in 2003.

The schedule gets more difficult in the second half with unbeaten Notre Dame and Rutgers, who are ranked fifth and 19th in this week's Associated Press Top 25 Poll. But Sunseri has thrown for 278 yards and 287 yards against No. 21 Cincinnati and No. 16 Louisville, respectively. Both of those teams also are unbeaten.

Street, a redshirt junior, has caught 39 passes for 514 yards and three touchdowns. Projecting those numbers over a full season, Street would finish with 78 receptions for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.

Larry Fitzgerald's records for receptions and receiving yards in a season (92 and 1,672 in 2003) are safe, but Street could end up with the second-best reception mark. Latef Grim ranks second with 75 catches in 1999.

“The coaches are calling on me and want me to be a playmaker, a complete guy,” Street said. “They're definitely trying to get me involved.”

Street, who has 117 receptions and 1,586 yards in three years, will need another standout season in 2013 to threaten Pitt's career leaders — Grim (178 receptions) and Antonio Bryant (3,061 yards).

Run game works

After using eight different player combinations on the offensive line in 2011, Pitt has had the same starting five in all six games.

Sunseri was sacked five times by Louisville, but the running game worked well, with Rushel Shell coming off the bench to rush for 96 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

“Coach (Jim) Hueber was proud of us and told us to keep our heads high,” left guard Chris Jacobson said. “We did our job.

“There are probably some things we need to work on, but every day that's expected.”

Leaky defense

Pitt's defense played its worst game in a month, allowing a 300-yard passer for the first time this season (Teddy Bridgewater, 304 yards).

Louisville receiver DeVante Parker caught only four passes, but they were good for 153 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

“They were playing man,” Parker said. “We knew we could beat that and just had to make plays.”

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

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