Tino Sunseri enters his fifth year at Pitt where he's had four different quarterbacks coaches. Mark Myers enters his third, and he's had a different quarterbacks coach each year he's been here. It is a tough transition, but one fact that both players like is the fact that Pitt is going back to a pro-style offense.
"It is what I was recruited for, and it is what I came here for," Sunseri said. "Whatever kind of offense they brought in, I was going to try to do to the best of my abilities. They brought in Coach Chryst. He brought in the pro-style offense. I'm going to try to execute it as best I can."
"The new coaches came in with a pro style offense, which is what I came in with (Dave) Wannstedt," Myers added. "I think it's a real good fit for me. I think our guys are going to fit real well into this; get a good season going."
On top of that, both seem to be adjusting to new quarterbacks coach, Brooks Bollinger. On a coaching level, Bollinger might not have the amount of experience that Matt Cavanaugh, Frank Cignetti or Todd Dodge had. Bollinger brings a little something different to the table that both Sunseri and Myers are comfortable with. Bollinger, a Wisconsin grad, quarterbacked the Badgers to a 30-12 record from 1999-02. HE was drafted by the New York Jets in 2003, and played in the UFL as recently as 2009 where he was the league's 2009 MVP. He's played more recently, and so far, they both seem to be able to relate to him a little easier.
"I couldn't tell you how happy I was when they announced him as the quarterbacks coach," Sunseri said. "He's a guy that's actually played the position, stood back there, had people rush at him and be the guy to relay the message. Those kinds of guys understand what's going on and they understand what your mindset is. He's got that playing experience in the NFL, and that experience he's had at the highest level."
"I like how he's young," Myers added. "He relates to us more. I think that's going to help us out."
It sounds like Bollinger has won the early popularity contest, but it might be awhile before we see what kind of impact he can have on the position. As for the first day of practice, Chryst also admits that it's way too early to get a gauge on what these quarterbacks are going to do, or what he's even going to be able to assess on them at this point.
"It was typical of a lot of first days," Chryst said. "It's kind of like my golf game where you have one good shot and you think you're a golfer but there's enough things that you have to keep moving on. It looks like there was an understanding of what they're supposed to be doing. The quarterbacks are no different from anyone else. This is a general statement but there are enough good things to say. Let's build on that, but a lot of little things that we have to clean up."
One thing that notable is the fact that Myers took more reps on the first day than he's accustomed to. Chryst has been alluding to open competition leading up to spring ball. He's showed it by giving equal reps to Sunseri, Myers and Trey Anderson on the first day. Myers is a guy expected to be Sunseri's backup last year, but was beat out by Anderson—a walk-on who was able to earn a scholarship after surpassing Myers. Myers said it served as a wakeup call. He also feels it's allowed him to mature a little bit.
"I definitely feel like I've matured a lot," Myers said. "I've been spending a lot more time in the film room, getting a lot more film work out here. I'm working with the receivers a lot more, so I think I'm ready to go."
Matured enough, that he feels he can get into the thick of a battle for a starting job, if that is the direction this is going under the new staff.
"I'm definitely relieved," Myers said. "I think I have a real good chance to help this team out."
As for Bollinger's assessment after one day?
"They did a great job today and they came out here and did exactly what I asked of them," Bollinger said. "The biggest thing is we're willing to learn and be coachable and communicate about what they saw and what we need to do better."
"I'm excited to work with every one of them. One of the great things about coaching is seeing that light bulb go off in each of them at different times. Tino Sunseri is a guy who has been around football for a long time and has it in his blood. Each one of them is a joy to work with and it's just a matter of finding how to help make each one better. The better each one of them are the better the top guy is going to be and ultimately the better the team will be."