On our 3rd offensive drive of the 2nd half against Navy, we winning 42-14. We had decided to pull Shady and Hot Rod from the game, yet Bill Stull remained in at quarterback. 6 of the 8 plays were running plays and the name of the game at this point was kill the clock. After a fumble by Conredge Collins, Navy took over and scored a touchdown with only a few minutes left in the game. With a 21 point lead and only a few minutes left, running out the clock seemed like a simple task. To our surprise though, on our 2nd to last series, Pat Bostick replaced Bill Stull. On every play from here we ran the ball to kill the clock. The remaining Pitt fans who stayed instead of trying to beat the traffic were shocked by the move to put Bostick in.
Here are the reasons of why we were all shocked to see Bostick in the game:
1. We have 2 other quarterbacks (Cross and Smith) who are not eligible for a redshirt.
2. Through out the camp (after naming a starter) and during the season, Wannstedt has said that the plans were to redshirt Bostick and allow him to gain an extra year of eligibility and to develop more as a quarterback.
3. He entered the game at a point where he was not going to throw the ball or do anything to help him improve as a quarterback.
4. When we were struggling in the early games, we did not make the change to Bostick to try and give the team a spark.
5. Wannstedt has continually said through out the season that Greg Cross will play and that we need to get him in there more while not making any mentions about Pat Bostick's playing time.
As far as why Wannstedt made the move, I have not heard from the coaches so I don't have any specific information, but here are some things he said at the press conference today.
"If we expect to win this season, Pat needs to see some playing time."
"We will do what it takes to give our team the best chance to win"
"We put him in there becausePat needs to be prepared to play every week" then he said "Pat is prepared to play every week".
When he was asked about the possibility of redshirting next season Wannstedt said "It's too early to talk about that"
Lastly, the biggest thing that Wannstedt told us, was something he did not say. Wannstedt would not say if Pat would play again this season.
Before I move forward, I just want to say that everything from this point will be mostly my opinions. I'm sure Jason Jones agrees with me on most of the stuff as we talked about this at length after the game, on the drive home from the game, and through out the day today.
Pat Bostick was not a great quarterback last season. That is not saying that he won't be great later, but given the situation last year, he did not perform well. Last season our offensive line was terrible. They prevented us from succeeding more with the passing and running game. Also last season, Oderick Turner and Darrell Strong were two of the laziest football players at any level of college football, yet they were not reprimanded for their laziness, penalties, and ineffectiveness. One key moment I remember was throwing deep against USF last year and Turner quit on the route despite being open. We replaced Moe Williams with Turner, ran the same play, and Williams ended up scoring on a long touchdown pass. Lastly, the staff took the ball out of Pat's hands last year. If anyone got a 10 point or larger lead on us, it was over because we were not going to open up the offense.
This season Jason Pinkston, Robb Houser, and John Malecki have all done a great job on the line. CJ Davis has been very steady and Joe Thomas has improved throughout the season and is playing better than Mike McGlynn did last year. Also the return of Derek Kinder and Nate Byham from injury as well as the arrival of Jonathan Baldwin and Dorin Dickerson (from lb) has allowed Stull to have a tremendous set of receivers. Kinder, Porter, McGee, Baldwin, Dickerson, Pelusi and Byham are a dynamic group who you can rely on. The group of Turner, Porter, Williams, Pestano, Strong and Pelusi just don't match up. Outside of Porter and Pelusi, the rest of the guys were disappointments with how they finished last season.
The coaches have changed after the Bowling Green loss too. We have seen less bubble screens and long yardage draws. Now we are seeing nice passes to the running backs over the flat, deep passes to Baldwin, more usage of the tight end, and more play action than we have seen all season.
The odds have been entirely in the favor for Stull to succeed this year compared to Bostick last year.
Stull has done a decent job this year though. I think Stull is the type of quarterback that Wannstedt looks for. He can manage the game and is going to be consistent from week to week. He won't be an explosive playmaker, but in our offense he doesn't need to be since we have strengths in other areas.
That being said, this is the 4th year Bill Stull has been in the offense. He will turn 22 this year and was given adequate time to develop under Matt Cavanaugh and was able to learn from Tyler Palko. Compare that to Pat Bostick from last year. He was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. He was playing in an offense that he had never played in before. He had missed time due to the family emergency and did not see any action throughout the first 3 games. He had a set of poor receivers and a poor offensive line.
The big things last year that everyone harped on was Pat's conditioning, his arm strength, and the hitch in the throwing motion. After attending many practices and seeing Pat quite often, it is very evident to me that Pat is in much better shape than last year. He entered camp 30 pounds lighter than he finished the season last year and has continued lose weight through out the season. Also through his work with Buddy Morris and Matt Cavanaugh he has developed better arm strength and improved his throwing motion.
Even though those improvements have been made, people are not able to see them because he hasn't played this season so their perceptions are only further cemented in their minds. Another problem is that since Wannstedt said we had an "open qb competition" this off season, people think that since Bostick didn't win the job he must not be a very good quarterback.
This is where a major problem comes into play. Even though he is our #2 quarterback, there is no reason to blow his redshirt opportunity to hand the ball off 3 times and kneel the ball once. If Wannstedt was really serious about doing this, he could have had Pat come in for each of the games that ended with us kneeling the ball and had him do it instead of Stull or Cross.
But here is where we stand right now. If you read this blog you know that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. While I am a Pittsburgh homer, I often disagree with many of our fans. One of the biggest things I hate about our fan base is this paranoia that we need Pittsburgh guys for everything. After Ben Howland left and when Jamie Dixon was rumored to leave, people talked about John Calipari, Skip Prosser, and Sean Miller all taking over. The key between those three is that they all have Pittsburgh connections. After an amazing 7 year run under coach Dixon, he has proved that he has a great mind for the game and should give the fans a reason to believe in him. After the USF game, a message board poster wrote "all of you guys want to give all of this credit to Jamie Dixon, but why don't you do the same for coach Wannstedt". My honest response is that because we've lost many games we should have won, we have underachieved for the last 3 seasons, and we have only won 3 games that we should not have (USF, WVU, and Cincy) under Coach Wannstedt. While we continue to improve, if we should keep winning and eventually become a consistent, dominant team, I will give Dave Wannstedt the same respect I give to Jamie Dixon.
This mentality goes farther than just coaches though. There are many fans who believe that we should only get kids from the WPIAL and stay within the wall around Western Pennsylvania. Part of this goes to the fact Walt Harris did not spend much time recruiting here and had a bad reputation with many of the local coaches. Rutherford and Palko received amazing support from the fans after they settled in (yes they were booed early in their careers here) as the starting quarterback. They were both from Western Pa. At the beginning of this year when the "quarterback competition" was taking place people were bashing Bostick as if he were the reason that our entire season went wrong last year. It wasn't just talking about the way he played, rather they attacked his character, his desire to play, and his appearance. If you want to compare Bill Stull to Pat Bostick, then that is fine, but do it with how they play, not this other made up stuff that you read from unreasonable "fans".
Now we have Bill Stull who has led us to a 5 - 1 record and has us going in the right direction towards earning a bowl bid and hopefully winning the Big East. However, instead of talking about the success of the team, we have to discuss the Pat Bostick situation because of a questionable coaching decision. This has led to more negative talk from our "fans".
Bill Stull is a WPIAL kid and I often feel that because he is a local guy he is given more leniency than Pat was given last year. This also applies to our freshman quarterback Tino Sunseri. He has all of the chips in his favor from fans from Pittsburgh. First of all, not only is he from the WPIAL, but rather he played for Central Catholic. Secondly his father went to Pitt. Lastly, we are often in favor of the back up quarterback in Pittsburgh and it appears that Tino is filling that role. I don't buy for a second that after 6 games into a planned redshirt season that Tino is ahead of Bostick. What I do believe is that a select vocal part of our fan base wants to believe that Tino is ahead of Pat. For them I believe their natural hope is that Stull succeeds this year and next, and then in 2010 Tino takes over as our starting quarterback.
Here is one of the best examples I can give you. Pat Bostick was our starting quarterback for the majority of our season last year. You would think that our fans would see that his name is Pat Bostick not Pat Bostic. If people continually spelled Bill Stull's name as Bill Stuul, or Stall, or Stall, or any other variation, people would make a huge deal about it. Instead I think people see spelling Bostick as Bostic as some type of natural dig at the kid. It's the same group of people who were mad at Tony Dorsett for changing the syllabic emphasis in his last name after he left Pitt.
People will allow others to be thrown under the bus for the simplest reasons. I just can't believe that our base isn't standing up to the certain fans who base all of their beliefs on where a person comes from. The local players don't deserve a free pass because they are from the area. Dave Wannstedt does not deserve a free pass because he played for Pitt. As a fan base we have a right to want to know the truth of why certain things are done. When you say all season long that you're going to redshirt a player and then put him in for 4 meaningless snaps at the end of the game, that raises a red flag. When the other coaches are saying they are completely surprised by this and that they had no idea it was coming, then I think it is something that we should really look into.
Again, we are 5-1 and should be enjoying this win. While we are happy that we are 5-1 (which is where I thought we would be at the beginning of the season), we have also seen things that have made us a little nervous and skeptical. Losing to Bowling Green and barely beating Buffalo, Syracuse, and Iowa are certainly reasons for that. However, beating USF and soundly defeating Navy are things we should be proud of and use for reasoning that we are headed in the right direction.
It is just sad that after a big margin victory we are discussing Bostick's redshirt instead of focusing on Rutgers because of a small coaching move that may end up to prove significant in a year or two.
I may have upset some of you with this column, but I felt that I needed to say something because I don't feel that Pat Bostick has been treated fairly by some Pitt fans. I also feel that some fans turn a blind eye to things we do because of a non-questioning policy when it comes to Wannstedt. Lastly, I like everyone else reading this want what is best for Pitt. If Pat didn't need to play this year, then he should not have. You make a move when it is necessary, not just because you can do it. 4 insignificant snaps may just have shaped one 19 year old's future more than anything else thus far in his life.