Pitt quarterback Sunseri embraces learning experience
Despite repeated criticism from former coach Todd Graham, Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri said Tuesday he had no problem with how he was treated this season.
"I think I learned a lot through this whole year," Sunseri told reporters after practice in Birmingham, Ala., where the Panthers are preparing for the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday. "You know what I mean• Keep on playing for your team."
In a video interview posted on Pitt's website, Sunseri said he believed Graham, who called a 419-yard passing effort "average," was merely trying to make him a better quarterback.
"I look at it as he was challenging me every single day to be the best I possibly could be," Sunseri said. "When he was challenging me, he, obviously, knew I could do better or he thought I did something wrong.
"I want to be a sponge and take in certain information and play and learn from it."
Asked to describe his feelings after Graham suddenly resigned 10 days after the end of the regular season, Sunseri said he had none.
"Whenever you come to a school, you come because you love the school and you love the players around you," he said. "And you want to keep on competing for that school. That is how my mindset is."
Sunseri said he and his teammates will shoot for certain goals when they meet SMU on Saturday. Pitt is trying to extend its bowl winning streak to three in three seasons, and Sunseri can become the first Panthers quarterback since Dan Marino to win two. He also needs 20 completions to set a school record (247 by Rod Rutherford in 2003).
Sunseri said he has met and spoken with new coach Paul Chryst and is impressed with his achievements as offensive coordinator at Wisconsin.
He added that moving from Graham's option-read, shotgun offense to Chryst's pro style won't be a problem.
"I've been underneath center my whole life," he said.
In fact, he said he considered playing in a shotgun offense "a blessing."
"I was able to play in the gun an entire year and be able to show people I can move a little bit and get away from pressure," he said. "I learned some things being in the shotgun, understanding hot reads, understanding how to handle the spread offense.
"Now, you go back (to the pro style) and you can do double things."
Notes: Interim coach Keith Patterson said he has job options beyond Saturday's game, including joining Graham at Arizona State, but he hasn't made a decision. ... Asked about Graham leaving, Patterson said, "It took me a while to sort through it all. It was unexpected, of course. Tuesday night (when Graham resigned), your world is upside down."