Monday, October 20, 2008

"I have no idea why we did it" (part 1)

That is not my response about seeing Pat Bostick play 4 meaningless snaps on Saturday, that is word for word the response I received in a text message from one of the coaches about 20 minutes after the game.

This is an issue that I believe has showed just how fragmented and biased Pitt fans can be. Jason and I were lucky enough to attend the spring practices and fall camp. I have even been lucky enough to be a part of the Monday press conferences. From the moment the season ended last year, we all knew that Bill Stull was going to become the starting quarterback this season. While Wannstedt did say that there would be an open competition, it would have taken some amazing circumstances for Pat Bostick, Kevan Smith, Greg Cross, or Tino Sunseri to win the starting job. Even after Stull was announced as the starter for the season, everyone who has any contact with the staff and team was well aware the plan was to redshirt Bostick and Sunseri this year.

What I hope to do with this 2 part column is to just describe what has transpired over the last few years in terms of quarterbacks, player management, reaction by the fans, and thoughts for the future.

Let's start with summer 2006. It was then that the highly touted recruit Pat Bostick announced that he would attend the University of Pittsburgh. He was one of the first verbal commitments that the Panthers received and along with the early commitments of other players such as Chris Jacobson, gave the Panthers a great start to building another great recruiting class under Dave Wannstedt.

Following the 2006 high school football season, Pat Bostick was named the 2006 Gatorate Pennsylvania Player of the Year. This was also right around the same time that following a disappointing season from the Panthers, rumors began to swirl that Pitt commits Pat Bostick, Dom DiCicco, and Nate Nix would switch their commitments from Pitt to Michigan State. Despite the rumors, Bostick re-affirmed his commitment and on signing day was the first Pitt recruit to fax in his letter of intent to join the University of Pittsburgh.

Summer 2007 - Pat Bostick enrolls for the summer session at Pitt. By the time he arrives, he has the playbook completely memorized and has even began compiling plays and ideas that he has come up with to present to the staff as potential options to use. When he came to Pitt he came here knowing that the plans were for him to redshirt and prepare as the quarterback of the future that would take over after then junior Bill Stull graduated following the 2008 season.

August 2007 - Pat Bostick returns home due to a family emergency. Due to the gravity of the situation, Pat returns home to stay with his family during this emergency. The reason of why Pat went home was not released due to the wishes of the coaching staff and Bostick family. Since there were no reasons as to why Pat left, internet rumors began to swirl that Pat was soft and not ready nor committed to being a Pitt Panther. This is where all of the Bostick negativity begins.

After spending a few days at home and with the situation improving, Pat returns back to campus and resumes practicing with the team. Despite people feeling that he had lost the support of the team, everyone involved with Pitt football felt that Pat did the right thing by going home to be with his family. The rest of camp is finished without any other major incidents for Pat Bostick.

Eastern Michigan - During the opening game of the season, a defensive linemen for the Eagles takes a cheap shot at Bill Stull and injures his hand, knocking him out for the entire 2007 season. He is replaced by Kevan Smith who primarily hands the ball off and is restricted to one of the most conservative offenses in all of college football due to his inexperience.

Michigan State - Kevan Smith plays poorly against the Spartans. His poor play and a crucial drop by Oderick Turner cost the Panthers a win in East Lansing. Most notably for Smith, a pick 6 thrown in the 2nd quarter gave MSU all of the points they needed to win. At this point, Panther fans start becoming restless and people begin to call for Pat Bostick to replace Kevan Smith as the starting quarterback.

UConn - After a miserable first half of football, Pat Bostick replaces Kevan Smith as the quarterback. On his first passing attempt, the ball is intercepted. He finishes the rest of the game as quarterback with pretty much the same results we had seen from Kevan Smith. Pat Bostick entered the game when the Panthers were down 27-7 and ended up finishing the game 27 of 41 with 230 yards passing and 1 touchdown.

Virginia - Pat Bostick makes the first start of his Panther career. After a failed on side kick to start the game, Virginia jumped on the Panthers and had a 20-0 lead after 8 minutes of play. Bostick finished the game 18 of 31 for 181 yards with 1 td and 1 int.

Navy - In a game featuring all offense, Pat Bostick completed 71% of his passes going 20 of 28 for 191 yards with 1 td and 1 int. The Panthers ultimately fell to the Midshipmen after Darrell Strong dropped a 4th down pass from Bostick in the 2nd overtime period.

Cincy - Pitt gets it's first win against a ranked opponent under coach Dave Wannstedt. The Panthers were underdogs in this game and defeated the Bearcats 24-17. Bostick played solidly going 18 for 29 with 167 yards passing with 1 td and 1 int. He also completed a 2 point conversion after Pitt's last touchdown.

Louisville and Syracuse - Pitt plays an average football game in both contests. The Panthers fell after Shady fumbles on the 1 yard line following a completion from Bostick to Turner. In the Syracuse game, Pitt wins a close game. In both of these games, Bostick did not throw an interception and had a touchdown pass.

Rutgers - Pitt's offense struggled all game long. In the first half Pitt was down 17-10 despite having their first five drives start in Rutgers territory. In the 2nd half, Kevan Smith replaced Bostick and moved the offense through draws, taking advantage of Rutger's soft quarterback coverage. Smith was never able to put points on the board however, and it was Pat Bostick that led the Panthers down the field on the final drive. With seconds remaining, Bostick completed a touchdown pass to Oderick Turner that all but ensured a Pitt victory. The play was however was negated by a completely bogus pass interference call. This would not be the last time Turner would be the victim of a phantom call.

USF - Bostick throws 2 touchdowns, 2 two-point conversions, and 3 ints in a shootout loss to the Bulls.

WVU - Pat Bostick leads the Panthers in one of the most stunning upsets of all time. He scores the only touchdown on a quarterback sneak in the 2nd quarter. That plus the early field goal by Conor Lee would be the only points Pitt needed to win the game.

Through out the season the offensive line was one of the weakest lines in the country. They gave up the most sacks of any team in the Big East, were the most penalized in the Big East, and did not provide the protection and separation needed to have a successful offense in both passing and running.

The receiving corps were one of the most underachieving groups on the team as well. Oderick Turner and Darrell Strong were not able to make up for the loss of Derek Kinder. They often did not finish routes, dropped easy passes, and led to the passing game looking much worse for all 3 quarterbacks that saw action.

The running backs were one of the bright spots on this team. For some reason Dave Wannstedt did not want to play Shady much. It took an injury to Hot-Rod before Shady really broke open in the Michigan State game. Following that, he was forced to use Shady more. Also discovered was that Conredge Collins was one of the premiere fullbacks in the country.

With the win against WVU to end the season, Shady returning for his sophomore year, and not losing much talent outside of Jeff Otah, the Panthers were given high expectations for the 2008 season despite knowing we were going to use a quarterback who only had 1 collegiate start.

In his first season, Pat Bostick finished with 1500 yards passing, a 61.5 completion percentage, 8 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

This 2008 season, we have all experienced the ups and downs. We suffered the horrible 27-17 loss to Bowling Green and saw the staff call the most conservatively called game in recent memory. We followed that up with close victories against Buffalo, Iowa, Syracuse, and USF. It wasn't until Navy that we dominated a team and won by a margin we all expected to.

So far this season with Bill Stull as our starter we have seen his strengths and his flaws. We are also 5-1 with him as our quarterback. This season he has a 58% completion percentage, 1283 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. This projects out to 2566 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 int's for Stull should he stay on the same pace and have the same amount of playing time for the rest of the season.

This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 will start with the 4th quarter of the Navy game.


Brian Ising said...

We are 5-1, ranked in the top 20 by everyone, and the front-runner to win the Big East and play in a BCS bowl and you writing a 2-part story on the back-up QB? Seriously, sit back and enjoy the ride. When was the last time we were in such a good position halfway through the year? It is not an exaggeration to say that the last time we were in such good position through 6 games, neither one of us was alive (OK, maybe you were).

I understand where you're coming from because the decision makes no sense to me either. But at this point, I'm trying to enjoy the fine season we're having. Who our starting QB is in 2011 is not a huge concern of mine. And really, that's what we're talking about. The decision to not red-shirt Bostick has zero impact on anything until 2011, when Bostick will be out of eligibility because of this decision.

And there are so many things that could happen between now and 2011 that it's ridiculous to fret about this. Bostick could blow up and leave early for the NFL. He could get beat out for the job by Smith or Sunseri or Paul Jones. Stull could get hurt this week, which would force us to use Bostick anyways. Bostick could redshirt next year, making this a moot issue, etc.

I understand that it is the nature of Pitt fans to look ahead to next year and beyond. But guess what? This year is next year. Who cares about 2011 when we're in such good position in 2008?

DPJ said...

I'm writing this because 1st this is a huge story.

2nd because there are some fans who are taking a kid and throwing him under the bus for no reason.

and 3rdly because i'm trying to raise the point that success this year is critical to success down the road. That is accomplished through everyone being on the same page and everyone having support.

I wish Wannstedt would pull a Mike Gundy on our fans.

J Jones said...

I can't get pumped about us having the record we should have had worst case scenario. Flip the Bowling Green loss with USF win and we are exactly where we would have been. Look at our schedule and how bad 4 of the 5 teams we have beaten are. We are excited about doing what we are supposed to do before Big East season.

Why should we just accept this decision making no sense? Of course next week Stull could get hurt and Bostick has to play but Stull could also not get hurt which means Bostick wouldn't see a down because Wanny has so much confidence in him. Then guess what Bostick would have had a redshirt. This decision is the equivalent about breaking the glass around a fire extinguisher before a fire. Sure you can do it but it makes no sense to take the fire extinguisher out of the glass. Why clean up the f-ing glass when you don't have to smash it in the first place? This is what Wanny did he put a bunch of glass on the floor of the program for no reason.

It is decisions like this that make it impossible to enjoy the moment with Pitt football. The other shoe can always drop and it makes the program so hard to root for.

Brian I know you are the always positive and that is respectable. The USF game was awesome but nothing has still even been accomplished, we aren't bowl eligible yet. On-field the product has been getting better and we are finally seeing success.

This isn't the time to completely ignore glaring mistakes though. No matter what this decision has sent a message and the rest of the season will decide what that message is.

Also if this would have been a two drive thing where Bostick threw some passes I could probably except the line of b-s Wanny is trying to get us to accept.