Tino Sunseri excelling in his senior season

Jared Wickerham

The much-maligned quarterback is finally proving some of his doubters wrong in his final year as the Panthers' starter.

Tino Sunseri is a lightning rod for criticism. His performance over the past few seasons has had fans calling for the backup on numerous occasions. Most of the time, those fans were right. But not this year.

Sunseri came into the season with the lowest expectations possible. All Pitt fans were asking for was him to manage a game. They wanted Tino to act like Bill Stull as a senior. If Tino could manage games, take care of the ball, and make a few plays, they'd be more than happy. This season, there's no arguing that Tino has done just that. Just look at his numbers to date. 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. A quarterback rating of 159.6. A 68.9 percent completion percentage and 9.12 yards per attempt (well over his average in previous years). The numbers do not lie, Tino is having a fine senior season.

Unfortunately, the year Tino decides to step up his game, Pitt's line becomes ever more questionable. Its blocking (or lack thereof) has caused many problems in pass protection and in the running game. Sunseri is still getting sacked at high rate (almost three times a game). However, the thing I may be most impressed with from Sunseri is his composure playing behind a less-than-stellar offensive line. Sunseri knows he's going to take hits. He knows he's going to be pressure and sacked. Yet he is still making plays. He's not going to win a Heisman Trophy, but he's making the smart plays. Finally.

Plain and simply, Pitt is not a good football team this year. They are 3-4 with five games remaining. They have lost to Youngstown State, Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Louisville. In those games Sunseri has thrown one interception. His average QB rating in those games is 146.4. I'll admit, I'm one of Sunseri's harshest critics. I'm looking forward to what incoming recuit Chad Voytik can do. But I will be the first to admit that Tino Sunseri is not the person to blame this season. His stats and play do not lie. Blame the defense. Blame the offensive line. Blame special teams. Heck, blame the coaching. Whatever you do, don't blame Tino Sunseri. Not this season.

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