Sunseri Looks To Build Upon Success

Tino Sunseri had the best outing of his Pitt career last Wednesday night. He feels in order to keep the offense going, he has to strive to put up even bigger numbers.

Tino Sunseri has already been recognized for his performance last Wednesday at quarterback. In what was arguably his best game as a Pitt quarterback, Sunseri completed 29-of-42 passes for 419 yards—the fourth-most passing yards in a game in school history—with three touchdown passes. Sunseri was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in school history, and seemed to put behind a pair of forgettable performances against Rutgers and Utah.

However, head coach Todd Graham—in an effort to keep Sunseri humbled—said the passing game, and the offense, still could have done better.

"We played average," Graham added. "We can play a lot better than that. Obviously, I was pleased with the performance, but it's not a great performance. The thing that was great, was not turning the football over, 100 percent ball security and no negative yardage plays."

Sunseri agreed with Graham's remarks. He seems generally pleased with how the offense performed against UConn, but also realizes that it's a constant process. In fact, the first things Sunseri reflected on from his record-setting performance was the missed opportunities.

"Whenever you go back and really dissect the tape, you look at what plays were left on the field and how you can complete the play better and put more passes on people," Sunseri said. "Before the half, we had a chance to go down and score some more points. Me and Devin weren't able to connect on a deep ball down the sideline, and the first play of the game me and Devin weren't able to connect. Whenever you go back and look at plays, you can always make sure you're putting more passes on people. You can keep on converting and keep on scoring more points."

Graham said the offense—despite 419 yards from Sunseri—was fully capable of throwing for 500 or 600 yards, and is capable of doing that down the stretch as Pitt positions itself for a Big East Championship. Sunseri feels that goal—to constantly aim for improvement—is what the offense needs. It's not just a matter of getting better, but more of matter of keeping the rest of the offense focused and not just settling for this one good performance against UConn.

Quarterback is a feature part of this offense, whether you're diagnosing stopping the run; making sure you're able to run reads correct and being able to carry out fades, making sure you're dropping back and putting the ball on peoples. The quarterback is a huge part of the offense, especially this one and we'll keep on trying to improve each and every week.

"I guess that's a possibility to be able to throw for (500 or 600 yards)," Sunseri said. "The most important thing is we threw like that because we were able to. That's what the defense was giving us. They were coming up, trying to stop the run. Even when Ray came out of the game, they shut down the run. Our receivers took it upon themselves to go up and down the field. We just wanted to make sure we were keeping the defense honest, and that we were able to execute. Our offensive line did a great job keeping people out of the backfield, and just on timing and rhythm we were able to distribute the ball around the field, we were able to go and pass the football."

Speaking of that offensive line, Sunseri is excited about the possibility of getting senior Lucas Nix back this week. Nix has not played since being injured in the South Florida game over four weeks ago. Even though Nix wasn't out there Wednesday, and despite the loss of Matt Rotheram, Sunseri feels Nix's presence has helped the younger guys out. Entering Wednesday's game, the offensive line was giving up an average of one sack for every seven passing attempts on the season. Against UConn, the line allowed one sack for every 14 passing attempts.

"Whenever you lose four linemen, that's a big part of any team," Sunseri said. "That's where it all starts, up front, and you get a guy back like Lucas is huge. He's been doing such a great job of mentoring all the younger guys. That's the biggest thing I feel, is the younger guys—they didn't go in there playing like replacements. They went in there playing like they were starters. They wanted to make sure they understood that."

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