PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — When Pitt (0-1, 2-2) resumes Big East play Friday night, head coach Paul Chryst expects the Orange (0-0, 1-3) to practice their “air” craft inside the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse, like the Panthers, couldn’t immediately get off the ground, but Chryst, in his weekly press conference, said redshirt senior Ryan Nassib has served that team well as the folcrum of its offense.
“He shows pretty good anticipation, which helps show defensively what they’re going to do. He’s confident in what he’s doing, and where he wants to go with the ball,” Chryst said on the South Side Monday. “He shows toughness to me, and even in the end of the game situations, there is some confidence. I think he likes those situations, to be honest with you. He has a lot of qualities that from afar you admire.”
Nassib leads the conference with 1,367 passing yards and ten touchdowns through four games, having posted an efficiency rating of 143.7.
Fellow fifth-year senior Tino Sunseri leads the Panthers into the Dome, where he has already won once, after bolstering his own numbers in back-to-back victories before the open week. He has amassed 1,144 yards and eight TD’s, having been picked off only twice, and he is right behind Big East leader Nassib with an average of 286.0 passing yards per game.
Sunseri’s 166.7 efficiency rating is the best in the conference.
Defensively, in those two wins, Pitt allowed just one touchdown, and its pass rush showed tangible improvement. But Chryst says both QB’s, whether or not they’re in the gun, will be under the gun throughout this game.
“My belief with pressure is if you can’t handle it you’ll continue to keep seeing it. Some pressures, not all, but some pressure schemes have the greater-risk, greater-reward type of deal.”
With both teams coming off an extended respite, Chryst knew how important it was not just to build on the team’s progress, but to ensure the rust factor wouldn’t weigh down his team this week.
“We tried to get better individually. So each coach went through with each guy on one phase. There were some things in the units that we wanted to get better at and I think, too, trying to stay sharp in a competition,” he said. “We were doing some ‘good against good,’ and trying to maintain playing and adjusting, so that we don’t have a big adjustment to the speed of the game.”
Chryst went on to discuss how his offense has improved with the help of Sunseri’s receivers, and whether the uncommonly high-scoring games in major college football recently say anything about the evolution of the sport:
Kickoff between Pitt and Syracuse is set for Friday at 7:00 P.M., with Panther Gameday, featuring Gregg Giannotti, at 4:00, on your flagship home of Panther football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.