Football: Bostick should start the year at quarterback

By Randy Lieberman

Tino, shmino. Here’s why redshirt junior Pat Bostick should start at Utah on Sept. 2… Tino, shmino. Here’s why redshirt junior Pat Bostick should start at Utah on Sept. 2 for Pitt’s football team.

That’s right, I said redshirt junior Pat Bostick. This guy has been around a while, and while a lot of his experience has come from his front-row seat on the bench, he’s witnessed the ups (13-9 victory over No. 2-ranked West Virginia) and downs (45-44 loss to Cincinnati last season) at Pitt.

With Bostick, the case always starts with experience.

He’s been at Pitt for what seems like a decade, but what’s been a little over four years. Bostick started immediately, during his freshman season in 2007. It was apparent he wasn’t ready to start, but what quarterbacks other than Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn ever are?

Yet, he still won games that mattered.

In the infamous “13-9” game, Bostick was just effective enough to earn a victory, even muscling in Pitt’s only touchdown on a quarterback sneak from the one yard line. Then, in 2008, he was at the helm when Pitt upended Notre Dame in three overtimes for a 36-33 victory.

That’s two road wins thus far, shooter. What has your boy Tino Sunseri given us? It’s been hardly anything overly impressive in garbage time against Youngstown State, Navy, South Florida and Syracuse.

Bostick has two road wins under his belt. He’s won those games not so much with his physical tools per se, because frankly, he’ll be the first to acknowledge his biggest weaknesses.

“My arm strength, my foot quickness,” Bostick said.

Bostick doesn’t throw a pretty spiral all the time, doesn’t release the ball blazingly fast and doesn’t burn defenders when he scrambles.

OK, so Sunseri has a huge advantage in arm strength over Bostick. That’s completely understood — not just by me, but by Bostick too.

“I don’t have an overly strong arm, as compared to Tino. He has a God-given strong arm, and I know that,” Bostick said.

In that case, a quarterback needs to have impeccable timing. For Bostick, this comes naturally as he had a chance to improve his understanding of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s offense by redshirting last season.

He also said he did a lot of lifting and strength training to improve his arm strength and foot speed. It’s clear the offseason work has paid off.

Plus, the one physical tool Bostick does have is size, something Tino, or shall I say, Tin-y doesn’t have. I understand, it says Sunseri is 6-foot-2 on Pitt’s website. Trust me, he’s the shortest 6-foot-2 I’ve ever seen. Pitt’s offensive linemen tower over him.

Bostick stands at a solid 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. He can at least see, and release the ball, over the linemen doing battle in front of him. It sometimes looked, during Satuday’s first scrimmage, that Sunseri had to shuffle in the pocket to find passing lanes.

Bostick looked sharp in last Saturday’s scrimmage, throwing a 65-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Greg Cross. He took a hit on the play, but managed to heave the ball just far enough for Cross to grab it on the way to the score.

There’s that offseason arm strength work paying off.

Sure, you can say he’s going against a second-tier defense. I say, however, that Bostick is only throwing to second-tier talent. That makes his stellar play throughout the scrimmage even more impressive. I would love to see what he could do with a safety blanket in wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

Sunseri is getting all of the first-team reps, yet Pitt coaches insist there’s an open competition at quarterback. Bostick must be doing something right to warrant a competition.

Whether he starts the first game or not, Bostick will at some point be thrown into action this season. Sunseri will be ineffective as a first-year starter — or, God forbid, have to sit out with an injury.

In that case, Bostick will be more than up to the task of playing in his place.

Oh, and did I also mention there is someone out there who has devoted an entire website to him?

Yeah, he’s going to be a starting quarterback — and have his own site to boot.