Pitt fans booed Bill Stull. They cheered Tino Sunseri.
They should weep for Jonathan Baldwin.
Not too many truths became self-evident during Pitt’s season-opening win – it was only Youngstown State, after all – but the most worrisome was the minimization of Baldwin.
Baldwin caught three balls, all in the second half. Only two passes went in his direction during the first 30 minutes, one a misfired screen that almost got Baldwin killed, the other an overthrown bomb. A press-box wag wondered aloud if Baldwin would transfer at halftime.
Baldwin later hauled in a 42-yard aerial from Sunseri, but it was a balloon. Pure helium. Baldwin could have fair-caught it.
Coach Dave Wannstedt cited the defensive attention paid Baldwin for the lack of touches provided the 6-6 receiver. But if new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. can’t get Baldwin the ball against Youngstown State, what will happen against, say, Cincinnati?
That’s the trickledown from Pitt’s poor quarterback play. That’s the most significant damage. You waste your most potent weapon.
Then again, maybe Cignetti wants to waste Baldwin. Baldwin gets minimal playing time when Pitt is inside the 20. Cignetti used two tight ends and receiver Cedric McGee for most of Pitt’s red-zone snaps. Ever hear of the fade route? I almost miss Matt Cavanaugh.
I have to laugh at the media defending Stull after his mediocre showing vs. YSU. “Oh, he’s only a kid.” No, he’s a young adult providing a service in exchange for a valuable commodity, a college education. You don’t want jeered? Play better.
I also laugh at the notion that select members of the media (ahem) are somehow responsible for fan criticism of Stull. The Sun Bowl is responsible for fan criticism of Stull. Seven-for-24 for 52 yards with a pick is responsible. A 3-0 loss to Oregon State is responsible.
It’s assumed that Pat Bostick’s redshirt will lead to him backing up Sunseri for the remaining two years of Bostick’s eligibility. But one Pitt insider tells me that’s NOT the case, that the QB job will be wide open next season with Bostick and Sunseri in an even battle.
“Tino’s listed as 6-2, but he’s maybe 5-10,” the insider said. “He looks good in 7-on-7 drills but when he has to throw over linemen, his ball sails. They can teach Tino a lot, but not to be taller.”
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).