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Posts Tagged ‘Tino Sunseri’

No. 53: Pittsburgh

Take a deep breath… Dave Wannstedt was fired on Dec. 7, 2010. Then-defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was his interim replacement through Jan. 8, 2011. Former Miami (Ohio) head coach Mike Haywood was hired as Wannstedt’s permanent replacement on Dec. 17, 2010, lasing in that spot until Jan. 2, 2011, when he was fired following his arrest on a domestic violence charge. On Jan. 11, Pittsburgh hired former Tulsa head coach Todd Graham. Twelve games and less than 12 months later, on Dec. 14, Graham jilted the Panthers for Arizona State – his “dream job,” of course. The Panthers were led through bowl play by interim head coach Keith Patterson. On Dec. 22, the program hired former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to be its fourth permanent head coach and sixth head coach overall in 380 days.

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    No. 34: Pittsburgh

    A brief timeline. On Dec. 4, Pittsburgh ends the regular season with a win over Cincinnati. On Dec. 7, athletic director Steve Pederson fires Dave Wannstedt after six years, 42 wins and the program’s best three-year stretch in three decades. On Dec. 16, after a week of hand-wringing over the Pederson-led coaching search, Pittsburgh hired former Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood. On Dec. 31, Haywood was arrested for alleged domestic abuse. On Jan. 1, Pittsburgh fired Haywood. Haywood lasted 16 days, which is 10 days longer than the Six-Day War but still one of the shortest tenures in F.B.S. history. Cue the hand-wringing, round two. On Jan. 11, Pittsburgh hired Tulsa’s Todd Graham, ending a coaching search that should have never occurred in the first place. If it was going to occur, however, at least the Panthers made the most of their second chance.

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      Keys to Miami (Fla.)-Pittsburgh

      One key to tonight's game is the play of Leonard Hankerson and his fellow receivers.

      It’s a big game for both teams: Miami (Fla.) needs a win to help it bounce back from a loss to Ohio State, while Pittsburgh badly needs a marquee win before entering Big East play. But it goes beyond that: both teams need a big game from their respective star; each has disappointed thus far. Want another storyline? What about two conferences looking for a big victory in non-conference play? The A.C.C., after disappointing efforts from Virginia Tech — James Madison — and Georgia Tech — Kansas — needs to make a statement. If Pittsburgh goes on to win the Big East, a win tonight must just validate its inclusion in the B.C.S. at year’s end. Here are some factors to watch in tonight’s game.

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        Utah Fights Back, Steps Up

        It wasn't the prettiest win, but Utah slipped past yet another B.C.S. conference opponent.

        At the end of the first half, Utah had doubled Pittsburgh in total offense, gaining 215 yards to the Panthers’ 106. Three turnovers, however, prevented Utah from taking more than a 14-7 lead into the locker room: one led to Pittsburgh’s lone first half score, another came in Pittsburgh’s end zone late in the second quarter. This was the story of this game: Utah shooting itself in the foot, allowing Pittsburgh to remain in the game, but eventually pulling out a very meaningful victory. What can the Utes learn from the win? That it doesn’t pay to make mistakes, for starters. In addition, Utah can take this into next Saturday: it committed three turnovers, two leading directly to Pittsburgh points, and still beat a top 15, B.C.S. bowl contender. That means more than anything.

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          The Importance Of Utah-Pittsburgh

          First-year starter Tino Sunseri will be key to Pittsburgh's success on offense.

          There are 18 games on tonight’s docket, though only seven featuring two F.B.S. teams. U.S.C. opens its season at Hawaii — watch the Trojans make a statement, or at least try to score as many points as humanly possible. Ohio State opens its season on a Thursday, a rare occurrence for the Buckeyes. Northern Illinois and Iowa State is a game to watch, particularly with the Huskies looking to make a statement against a B.C.S. conference opponent. Likewise with Southern Mississippi, traveling to a distracted South Carolina; also with Middle Tennessee, which takes on Minnesota without Dwight Dasher, its all-Sun Belt quarterback. The game of the night, however, features No. 15 Pittsburgh at Utah, with both teams looking to start the 2010 season on a strong note. Why else is this game important?

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            Thrown Into the Fire

            That looks mighty hot. Guys like Tino Sunseri will be thrown into the fire come September.

            The unknown, unpredictable first-year starting quarterback. No position lies under more scrutiny, with a fresh face instilling either confidence in a fan base awaiting a change or anxiety in a group fearing life without their lost starter. In many cases, a new starter has earned time in the past, whether as a reserve — like Penn State’s Kevin Newsome — or as a part-time starter; Landry Jones shouldn’t even be considered a first-year starter, as he made 11 starts in Sam Bradford’s stead in 2009. Regardless of experience level or time spent running with the first team during practice, there’s nothing quite like the first game of the year — that debut start. Some new quarterback have it easier than others. Some are thrown right into the fire on the opening weekend. Here are a few.

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              The Countdown

              A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.