Pitt senior quarterback Savage running out of time in his college career
Tom Savage's season — indeed, his Pitt career — will end not long after it started.
In fact, by this time next month, the fifth-year senior quarterback could be a former Pitt player if the Panthers (4-3) fail to secure a bowl bid. That leaves Savage with a rapidly closing window on his college career that included three schools, two years off and only one season — this one — where he must make up for lost time.
“I have to play like I have nothing to lose,” he said, recognizing a sense of urgency attached to this season. “I can't play timid.”
Savage's season has played out like a roller-coaster ride — and not just because he has been hot and cold. A head injury in the fourth game left him a bit woozy and wouldn't allow him to finish the 14-3 victory against Virginia. He was cleared by Pitt's doctors and hasn't missed a start.
Asked if Savage has shown any lingering effects from the blow to the head, coach Paul Chryst was emphatic with his answer.
“I don't believe so at all,” he said.
But Savage's productivity and effectiveness have fallen since he produced one of the greatest games in Pitt history for a quarterback when he threw for 424 yards and six touchdowns in a 58-55 victory against Duke on Sept. 21. The Blue Devils' defense appeared weak that day, but Duke has won four in a row since losing to Pitt and allowed Navy seven points and Virginia Tech 10.
But in the past four games — including before he was injured against Virginia — Savage has completed 54.8 percent of his passes and surpassed 200 yards once (203 last week against Navy).
No one knows Savage better or works closer with him than quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger, and he has noticed a sense of urgency around the way his quarterback prepares.
“When you get (older), you realize you don't have that many opportunities to strap it up,” Bollinger said.
Savage often has been the victim of his own mistakes, but Pitt's offensive line hasn't always protected him well, either. Plus, the running game has been inconsistent — leaning toward consistently ineffective — and is ranked 12th in the ACC as it prepares for the game Saturday against Georgia Tech (second in the conference in run defense).
The sacks have diminished dramatically from a total of 15 against Virginia and Virginia Tech to only three the past two weeks. Savage hasn't been shy about moving his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame out of the pocket and out of danger.
“He's too slow to get happy feet,” Bollinger said, laughing. “Like anybody, he is just out there trying to compete and make plays. He has worked to know when to get the ball out of his hands and to know when he has time to read it out and understand the situation of the game.”
Unfortunately for Pitt, Savage may not be around long enough to approach his potential.
“His ceiling is somewhere out here,” Bollinger said, raising his arm above his head. “I think he is still climbing into the player that he can be.”
Savage continues to progress, Chryst said. But one aspect of his game remains constant.
“I'm not saying he played perfect (last week),” Chryst said. “But he plays the game hard, and I respect that.”
Show commenting policy
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.
- Dixon vows to fix Pitt’s long-distance dilemma
- Former WPIAL diving champ finds success at Pitt
- Gorman: Not just a no-brainer for Pine-Richland’s DiNucci
- Pitt adds Texas wide receiver as 16th commitment to Class of 2015
- Pine-Richland’s DiNucci to Pitt; Kittanning’s Bowers opts for PSU
- Juco center Nix looks to fill void at Pitt
- Panthers drop heartbreaker in overtime to Virginia Tech
- Pitt, Louisville square off after unusually long layoffs
- In recruiting, Pitt, Penn State make ‘social’ commentary
- Pitt suffers loss at home in first ACC meeting against Louisville