Starkey: Stull's Redemption

By Starkey, Joe | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Starkey: Stull's Redemption

Starkey, Joe, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pitt quarterback Bill Stull found an unlikely target for one of his passes Saturday night.

Some guy named Bill Stull.

And even though that wacky play ended with a fumble at the Navy 1, nobody at Heinz Field dared direct a boo in Mr. Bill's direction. Not on this night.

Stull never gave his critics a chance to clear their throats, completing all six of his attempts for 62 yards and a touchdown on Pitt's first drive in what would become a 27-14 victory.

He finished 17 of 24 for 245 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions - and no jeers.

It was great to see Stull smiling after a win, as compared to Pitt's opener two weeks back, when he obviously was shaken by the boos.

"I was real curious to see how he would play tonight," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I think that last week (at Buffalo), the best thing that could have happened to Billy is us playing on the road."

Stull deserves a ton of credit. So do his teammates and coaches for standing behind him at every turn. He easily could have come apart in the wake of the Youngstown State game. A lot of quarterbacks would have.

Instead, he has responded like a champion. His combined numbers from the past two games: 38 for 54 for 427 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Did he feed off the cheers last night?

"Honestly, I'm not really concerned about that," Stull said. "I'm just playing within myself, playing within the offense and really enjoying it - really, actually having fun out there."

The opening drive stayed alive when Stull delivered a perfect touch pass to Jonathan Baldwin, between two defenders, on fourth and 3 at the Navy 28.

Things went so well that one of Stull's completions went to himself. It happened on third and 3 at the Navy 24 in the second quarter, when a batted pass landed right back in his gut.

Nobody will mistake him for Dion Lewis, but Stull took off like his helmet was on fire. Had he scored, it would have gone down as one of the more incredible plays in Pitt history. He didn't, fumbling at the 1, but that was the only blight on his near- immaculate first half (12 of 14, 189 yards) after which Pitt led, 21- 7.

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