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September 10, 2011
Graham: 'Tino is our quarterback'
Tino Sunseri is still Pitt's starting quarterback, Todd Graham said after the Panthers' 35-29 win over Maine at Heinz Field on Saturday.
Speculation naturally developed after Sunseri was taken out of the game following his second interception early in the fourth quarter. Sunseri was replaced by freshman Trey Anderson.
"I still have 100% belief in Tino," Graham said during his post-game press conference. "Like I told you all at the beginning of the year, I think he has a very difficult job, he has a lot on his plate, and we've got to execute better at that position. But Tino is our quarterback and will be next week."
"They said they wanted to get Trey in the game so that he has some experience," Sunseri said after the game. "He felt like we had enough lead to be able to get him into the game and make sure that he could be in that situation in case anything happened to [me]."
Graham added in his post-game remarks that the coaches planned to use Anderson and that he felt comfortable with the game situation when he made the change.
"We had planned on putting Trey in anyway; it wasn't that I pulled Tino. It was a planned deal that we were going to play him anyway, and I felt like we had enough lead and enough confidence in him to put him in."
Pitt led 28-15 when Anderson entered the game in the fourth quarter. The freshman ran two full drives for Pitt and completed 5-of-7 passes for 33 yards, including two passes to convert third downs on his first drive.
That drive covered 52 yards in 11 plays and resulted in Pitt's final touchdown of the game.
Sunseri completed 21-of-35 passes for 224 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. His first interception came on Pitt's first drive of the second half. The Panthers had moved to the Maine 23 when Sunseri threw for redshirt freshman Salath Williams in the end zone, but Maine defender Kendall James stepped in front of Williams and made the pick.
After the initial interception, Anderson began warming up on the sidelines but did not enter the game. Sunseri's second interception came as Pitt tried to convert a 4th-and-10 from Maine 40 early in the fourth quarter.
Saturday's game followed the season opener against Buffalo a week ago; during that game, Sunseri completed 16-of-28 passes for 179 yards and 1 touchdown.
"I think they're both great quarterbacks, but Tino's definitely our leader," tight end Hubie Graham said after the game. "He's definitely the guy who has done a great job and he's a hard worker. He improves each week, and I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to come back stronger than ever next week."
"The bottom line is we're 2-0 and we're moving forward, and I believe in him and what he's doing," Todd Graham said. "He's got to get better; no question about it. He's learning a new system, and I think that's what you're seeing."