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Pitt football notebook: Chryst says Sunseri must play well for Pitt to win

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst on the sideline during his first game against Youngstown State at Heinz Field Sept. 1, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Throughout the season, Pitt coach Paul Chryst hasn't heaped extensive praise on his players, preferring to let their actions on the field tell the story.

He continued that trend Friday at a BBVA Compass Bowl news conference at Legion Field when he was asked about quarterback Tino Sunseri.

Sunseri has thrown for 3,103 yards and 19 touchdowns and has not thrown an interception in 270 consecutive passes.

“He needs to do that (Saturday against Ole Miss), and at the end of that we can talk about it,” Chryst said. “We need him to play well for us to have a chance.”

• Chryst will deal with the loss of right guard Arthur Doakes by juggling the offensive line. Matt Rotheram, who has played right tackle all season, will move to guard, his natural position when he was recruited in 2010 from North Olmstead (Ohio) High School. Zenel Demhasaj will get the first start of his Pitt career at right tackle. Demhasaj, a redshirt junior who is not returning next season, has been at Pitt for the past two years after transferring from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College. Doakes has been suspended for at least one game for violating team policy.

• Center Ryan Turnley (Hopewell), who has aspirations of an NFL career, is taking nothing for granted. He said the seniors will be especially focused for the game. “You never know what is going to be your last football game,” he said.

• Chryst is not looking for the outcome to help give the team momentum for spring practice. Instead, he said it's important for the current team. “Anything positive helps,” he said, “but I think it's all about this (season) and this team. If it was about what it (can do) for next year, we would have a bunch of juniors and sophomores up here.” Pitt was represented at the news conference by seniors Turnley, Mike Shanahan and Jarred Holley.

• Ole Miss is the designated home team for the game and is expecting more than half of the crowd to be Rebels supporters. A Compass Bowl record crowd of more than 50,000 people is expected.

— Jerry DiPaola

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