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Pitt hoping Sunseri builds off UConn victory

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Monday, Oct. 31, 2011

Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri probably can't play better than he did against Connecticut.

But neither could many quarterbacks in college football.

Sunseri completed 29 of 42 passes for 419 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against a defense that is ranked 106th of 120 schools. The Panthers cruised to a 35-20 victory.

Only three quarterbacks in Pitt history — none of them named Marino — have thrown for more yards in a game.

Sunseri's passer rating was 168.6, which would be seventh in the NCAA if he maintained it for an entire season. Stanford's Andrew Luck, the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, has a 176.95 passer rating.

Sunseri's number for the season improved nearly 10 points to 123.5.

"Tino did a good job of managing the game," coach Todd Graham said. "This was the second time all year we reached our goal of 100 percent ball security (no turnovers)."

The other came in a loss to Notre Dame.

Graham was unhappy Sunseri was sacked three times, clearly showing his displeasure at the end of the first half when he failed to get rid of the ball and was tackled for a loss of 13 yards.

"There are plays I didn't like, but it's always going to be like that," Graham said.

For the most part, the passing game was in rhythm.

"We kept them off-balance," Graham said. "I thought Tino was very solid. I challenged him to execute and do the things like we wanted it done."

The next challenge is for Sunseri to match the productivity of Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros on Saturday at Heinz Field, with first place in the Big East at stake.

Collaros has the second-most interceptions in the conference (six) behind Sunseri and Rutgers' Gary Nova (seven). But he has the second-best passer rating (147.3).

Clitch defense

The Pitt defense has been stingy on third down most of the season. Connecticut failed to convert all seven of its chances in the first half and finished 3 of 14 for the game. For the season, Pitt has allowed only 44 of 129 third-down conversions, good for 23rd in the nation.

Donald leads league

Pitt had six sacks against the Huskies, two by sophomore Aaron Donald, who leads the Big East with seven in eight games. The Panthers have 27 sacks on the season, with four games remaining. They had 34 last year.


Pitt (4-3, 2-1 Big East)

Next opponent: Cincinnati (6-1, 2-0)

Time and place: 7 p.m. Saturday, Heinz Field

Scouting report: Quarterback Zach Collaros led Cincinnati to a come-from-behind victory in its most recent game, a 37-34 decision at South Florida on Oct. 22. Collaros completed 26 of 41 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores, including the game-winning 2-yard run with 12 seconds left.

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