While redshirt freshman Kevan Smith and freshman Pat Bostick were not ready to start at quarterback in the Panthers opener with Eastern Michigan, one needs to be pressed into action for Grambling State Saturday at noon at Heinz Field now that junior Bill Stull is out of action for a while.
That should be Bostick, because he is the future at quarterback. And that time has arrived for Pitt. Admittedly, it's earlier than it would have been, since Bostick likely would have redshirted this season, but that plan is gone. Stull might not miss the entire season, but he also might not be back until the Oct. 10 game with Navy after missing four games.
So, University of Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt and his staff should get Bostick ready for the Tigers and play him extensively. See what he can do. See if he can handle the pressure. Freshmen do it all the time, and this is his time now. Both Bostick and Smith are likely to play, and it wouldn't be surprising if Smith started. But it's more important who finishes and who gets the ensuing starts at quarterback. And that should be Bostick.
Clearly, there are positives and negatives to throwing Bostick into the fire, so to speak, and the main one concerns the reasons that he missed the first eight days in training camp. That time needs to be put far in the past by Bostick and his teammates for him to be an effective leader. Wannstedt addressed the situation further Monday during the Big East teleconference.
"The positive would be that I feel that he gives us the best chance to win,'' Wannstedt said. "The negative would be that there's going to be some first-year mistakes, but that's going to happen with Kevan, too. For either one of them, there's not that experience that you'd like to have.
"The inexperience would be the negative, but the positive would be that he's prepared himself well and he's ready to play. ... I think the 3-4 days that Pat missed gave Kevan a little edge from the very beginning, and I think Kevan did a good job of taking advantage of it. Now, is Pat ready to play? And does he know the offense well enough? Yes, he does.''
Stull had surgery Sunday, and Pitt began preparations for Grambling State with Smith and Bostick splitting time with the first team, Wannstedt said. That trend will continue during the week with the head coach not likely to name a starter, at least publicly, until game time. He also said that he didn't see that as a problem for the team.
"Right now, I'm going to keep an open mind and make a decision on how these kids practice, how they prepare, and how they handle themselves in the huddle,'' Wannstedt said. "It started (Sunday) night. We did some things, and both of them split time. The process for who's going to start and who's going to do what began (Sunday) night and will continue throughout the week.
"Offensively, we've got a lot of work to do. Particularly in the first half, Eastern Michigan gave us a lot of problems. We weren't physical enough, and we were very inefficient in the first half. We made some adjustments and came out in the second half and played better, but overall we've got a lot of improvement to do.''
Stull's surgery went as well as could be expected, Wannstedt said, because no additional damage was found. He is listed as week-to-week. During those weeks, Bostick could become the quarterback Pitt expected him to be when it doggedly recruited him or at least the coaches will find out if there's a chance that he could become that guy.
But he won't get there if he doesn't get the chance. Bostick should get that opportunity as soon as this week against Grambling. And it wouldn't hurt the Panthers to get LeSean McCoy more carries as well. Even he admitted that things were a little crazy in the first half, but once he settled in he looked spectacular. Both he and LaRod Stephens-Howling can go the distance each time they touch the ball, and that should be often.
Their success would make it easier on any Pitt quarterback, and that should be Bostick.
Pitt Needs A New Quarterback
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