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October 17, 2011

Graham calls QB rotation 'a distraction'

Todd Graham hoped that some quarterback rotation would infuse effectiveness into the most important position on the field.

But the Pitt head coach said on Monday that the opposite has happened.

"I think that really hurt us in the last game, switching the quarterbacks so much; it just was a distraction," Graham said on the Big East's weekly conference call. As such, Graham made it clear that redshirt junior Tino Sunseri is not losing his job as the team's starting quarterback.

"I think the experience, the knowledge of what we're doing, the practice time, the repetition that he's had, makes Tino our (starter). We have to get it out of him. That's our job as coaches."

In Pitt's 26-14 loss to Utah at Heinz Field on Saturday, started the game but was replaced by freshman Trey Anderson on the final drive of the first half after Sunseri completed 4-of-10 passes for 38 yards and was sacked three times.

Anderson led the final drive of the second quarter and all three drives of the third quarter; on those four drives, he completed 4-of-10 for 5 yards and was sacked once. Sunseri then returned for Pitt's first two drives of the fourth quarter (0/1, 2 sacks) before Anderson took over for the final three drives of the game (1/9, 7 yards, 2 interceptions).

"I think that switching the quarterbacks in an out has created more distractions than it has positives," Graham said.

Pitt also used Anderson in Pitt's loss to Rutgers two weeks ago, and the results were similar, as the freshman completed 2-of-5 for 4 yards and 1 interception.

In the last two games, Sunseri and Anderson have combined to complete 25-of-63 passes (39.7%) for 181 yards, no touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.

"Obviously we've had very inconsistent play at that position, and that has caused me to make some decisions I wouldn't normally make. All that aside, the bottom line is that we have not performed where we need to at that position."

In previous weeks, the coaching staff has looked to Anderson to provide "a spark" for the offense, and while Graham said that Anderson could still see the field, there is no question about the team's starter.

"We'll utilize our Wildcat package and our other packages; we might have a package for Trey. But our every-down starting quarterback is going to be Tino."

Graham cited experience and knowledge of Pitt's offense as the major point of separation between Sunseri and Anderson.

Pitt (3-4 overall, 1-1 in the Big East) is off this weekend before hosting Connecticut next Wednesday night.




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