Kovacevic: Pitt facing a Savage reality
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On the 1,000th day since Tom Savage last touched a football in anger, he was one of two quarterbacks splitting snaps with Pitt's first-team offense on the first day in pads.
That was Saturday.
On the 1,003rd day since Tom Savage last touched a football in anger, a mostly blah practice performance by him and the other quarterback, Chad Voytik, prompted Paul Chryst to offer this one-word answer when asked to describe his passing game: “Sporadic.”
That was Tuesday.
On the 1,004th day since Tom Savage last touched a football in anger, Chryst formally named him the team's starter. In disclosing that to reporters, the coach, um, boldly declared, “We like what he's done to this point.”
That, of course, was Wednesday.
On the 1021st day since Tom Savage will have last touched a football in anger … yep, Florida State.
So how are those ticket sales coming again?
It's a scary thought. And not just as it relates to the grand opener Sept. 2 against the Seminoles at Heinz Field. We're talking about a full season of an offense that lost not one but two potent rushing weapons — Ray Graham to graduation, Rushel Shell to being Rushel Shell — and will rely on a 23-year-old quarterback whose last real football game came Nov. 13, 2010.
Savage was with Rutgers then. It was a home loss to Syracuse.
“Yeah, it's been a long time,” Savage was telling me after practice on the South Side. “Obviously, you want to be out there playing every year. It's been frustrating. But the situation happened.”
More like situations, plural.
Savage was an instant sensation upon arriving at Rutgers, at least as much as such a thing is possible there: He was the Scarlet Knights' offensive MVP with 2,211 passing yards, plus 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions. The yards and TDs were the most by a true freshman in Big East history.
The next year, though, he hurt his hand early in the season and was Wally Pipp-ed out of a job by another freshman, Chas Dodd. Seeing no future, Savage transferred to Arizona and had to sit out 2011, per NCAA rules.
By the time he got to Tucson, though, new coach Rich Rodriguez was installing a spread offense that didn't suit his drop-back style. Seeing no future, Savage transferred to Pitt and had to sit out 2012.
Now he's here. With one year of eligibility left.
“Knowing all that's happened, that it's my last season, yeah, it motivates me all the more,” Savage said. “I'm ready to go.”
We'll see about that.
Savage has the size, at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, plus the strong arm and skill set. He's your prototypical pro, really, carrying a commanding presence over the line and firing the football with a seeming flick.
Devin Street, the decorated senior receiver, glows about him: “He's finding us downfield. He's threading the needle. He's showing touch. He's making good reads. I think you're going to see a lot of new things from our offense.”
You know, like actually throwing downfield.
The great unmentionable in this camp is that Tino Sunseri — now property of the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders and, presumably, being eviscerated round the clock on Radio Free Saskatoon — couldn't throw downfield at all. Thus, Chryst took an infinitely smarter route than Todd Graham in coping with Sunseri in that he condensed the Pitt playbook to passes not much farther than, oh, the length of Sunseri's right arm.
Savage can expand the field, and here's betting the Panthers will try hard to give him every opportunity. You get that from practices, where Street and mega-prospect Tyler Boyd are routinely running 25 to 30 yards down field. You might even have gotten that in a sly response from Brooks Bollinger, the quarterbacks coach, who addressed a question about a more ambitious playbook by simply acknowledging there might be “one or two” additions. With a smile.
Great. Sounds like fun.
I'm not ready to bury the 2013 Panthers, and no amount of Florida State dominance will change that. Sure, the opener is a matchup that looks a lot less balanced than the current 10.5-point spread, but it'll mark a monster way to welcome Pitt to the new conference.
I'll still look forward to seeing Chryst take his program to the next step, to Street and Boyd stretching the field, Isaac Bennett and — remember this name — James Conner grinding it out and, maybe above all, to Aaron Donald and Jason Hendricks tackling their way up the NFL draft boards.
And to this new/old QB, too.
It's only 17 days away.
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.
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- Cole struggles as Brewers continue Miller mastery over Pirates
- Allegheny County CYF worker arrested on child pornography charges
- Student violinist,Valley School of Ligonier reach settlement
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- 22-month-old boy shot, killed in North Side; stepfather charged
- Pittsburgh councilwoman introduces pair of bills to protect animals
- Food assistance rises in Western Pa. despite drop in jobless rate
- Youngstown State looking for repeat performance against Pitt
- Steelers’ Tomlin disappointed by Bryant suspension