2013 Preview: The Quarterbacks

Paul Chryst maintains that he won't name a starter until September 2. Tom Savage and Chad Voytik are expected to compete for the starting job, but has it already been determined?

Will it be a quarterback battle in camp, or has it already been decided?

That's been one of the biggest questions as Pitt heads in to training camp, which starts next week, as Tom Savage and Chad Voytik will compete for the starting quarterback job.

Though we've already seen Savage and Voytik compete in the spring, the competition in March and April did nothing to put one ahead of the other. The most interesting thing that did happen, was Voytik completing 27-of-33 passes for 358 yards and three touchdown passes. Savage played four series, completing 6-of-11 passes for 80 yards.

If we're going to base the quarterback job on that actual game, which is the final test of the spring, then Voytik should have the lead. Head coach Paul Chryst, however, downplayed the significance of the number of reps, saying it was by design to get Voytik that high number of reps.

"We wanted to get Tom maybe three or four series," Chryst said after the game. "We wanted to get Chad (Voytik) as much work as we could."

Still, how can you not notice that kind of performance, when getting production from the quarterback position this year is a priority?

As early as the day when the 2012 schedule was formally announced, Chryst has maintained that he won't decide a starter until September 2, or at least that's when it will be public knowledge.

Receiver Devin Street has given us the best indication of anyone, of who might be starting, or who's in the lead.

"Tom Savage, I think everyone is going to be surprised by him," Street said, commenting on summer workouts. "He was a Freshman All-American (at Rutgers). He's 6-5, 230. Tom's been working his tail off all summer long. He has a big-league arm.

"Tom is just a great guy, genuinely. Sometimes, you hear receivers taking about quarterbacks, saying nice things. He's a great guy, a great guy to work with."

Savage signed with Rutgers in the 2009 recruiting class, the biggest recruit the Scarlet Knights had landed. It looked like his career was off to a good start, as he took over the starting quarterback job as a true freshman, and was named offensive MVP after throwing for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Then came his sophomore year. He played in just six games in 2010, starting four. He threw for just 521 yards and two touchdowns, then decided to transfer out of the program after losing an in-season battle with Chas Dodd.

Savage then decided to transfer to Arizona, where he would have been the heir apparent to Nick Foles, now of the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, Arizona made a coaching change after the 2011, hiring Rich Rodriguez. Savage decided to look into other options, which became Pitt. Though it looks like a transfer in football terms, Savage joined the Pitt team as a walk-on.

Still, he had to sit out the 2012 season with Voytik, learning the new system under Paul Chryst.

As we go forward with this quarterback battle, there are a lot of uncertainties. One, is the simple fact we don't know who the starter is. Two, is how will Savage respond after not taking a snap in an actual game, in nearly three years. He certainly has a lot of ability, and his arm strength has been well-documented since he joined the Panthers.

Or, does Chryst turn to the redshirt freshman Voytik? If Savage was a two-year starter at Pitt, things might be different. However, the two came to Pitt around the same time, and both had to sit out last season. Experience, even though Savage was a starter at Rutgers, is almost a non-factor considering he hasn't taken a snap in a live game in nearly three years.

Or can you base Voytik's performance in the spring game, and use it as a springboard to August? If Voytik produces similar numbers in team scrimmages, and is given enough opportunity, it's something worth considering.

Remeber, this is a Pitt team that has gone 12-14 since the university initially chose to part ways with Dave Wannstedt. A total of 47 of 85 scholarship players on this year's roster are either freshmen or sophomores (true or redshirt). Chryst is still safe for now, early in his tenure. At some point--2015, 2016--results are going to be expected, as per previous head coaching cycles. Would Chryst make a decision based on preparing for better things down the road? It's too early to predict how that will happen based on his previous personnel moves, but it's worth noting.

There's also a chance that we so both quarterbacks this season. The offense will be under scrutiny for awhile, at least until there's another consistent playmaker not named Devin Street. Savage and Voytik are two different quarterbacks, in terms of what they can do. If you're looking to score points, or if you need some diversity on offense, why not create packages for Voytik to come in on certain plays, downs or yardage situations. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened in college football.

Whatever the case, while there have been hints from players in the offseason, Chryst is holding true to his word, that no starter will be named until September 2. It might sound cruel to do that to a quarterback's psyche. For a team with so many question marks, why not hold the competition over their heads until it really starts to count--September 2.

Two things we do know for certain. One, is that junior quarterback Trey Anderson--barring any unfortunate injury situations with the two guys ahead of him--will redshirt this year. The coaching staff took a big risk by redshirting Voytik a year ago. However, if starter Tino Sunseri would have been injured at any point, Voytik would have played. In hindsight, it looks like a beneficial move for Pitt to have more depth now, and for Voytik to gain a year under his belt and now four years of eligibility ahead of him.

That also appears to be the same for freshman TraVon Chapman, assuming he is still with the program this time next week. Chapman was set to have a hearing, regarding his April 26 charge of assault and unlawful restraint. Chapman was indefinitely suspended from the team a few days later. That suspension has not been lifted, and his hearing has been postponed twice. The hearing, initially set for June 28, was moved to July 29, yesterday.

After having the hearing postponed twice, Chapman changed his plea to guilty. According to court records, he will spend three days in jail and perform 20 hours of community service.

Chapman remains on the roster, and is also heading for a redshirt. As of this moment, Chryst is offering no comment on Chapman's status.

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