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 PITTSBURGH (AP) -Not even Dan Marino started this soon in his Pitt career.
Pat Bostick, a high school senior a year ago, makes his first start at quarterback for Pitt on Saturday at Virginia. Coach Dave Wannstedt didn't want to make this move so early in the season or Bostick's career, but an ineffective offense that is threatening to ruin Pitt's season left him little choice.
Bostick will be Pitt's third starting QB in five games, following the injured Bill Stull and Kevan Smith, who was pulled at halftime of a 34-14 loss to Connecticut on Saturday.
Bostick takes over in his fifth college game.
Marino, by comparison, didn't start until more than halfway through his freshman season at Pitt in 1979. Darnell Dickerson, another non-redshirt freshman, made his first college start Nov. 7, 1987, against Rutgers, a week after replacing Sal Genilla in a loss to Syracuse.
Other Pitt quarterbacks have played as freshmen, most notably Alex Van Pelt in 1989, but they were redshirted.
Wannstedt wouldn't be doing this if Stull hadn't badly injured a thumb in the season opener. But Smith played so poorly in losses to Michigan State and UConn that it became obvious it was affecting the rest of the offense. At one point, Pitt (2-2) trailed UConn 34-7 in a home game the Panthers were favored to win big.
``Pat's done some positive things,'' Wannstedt said. ``Let's see if he can take the next step.''
The 18-year-old Bostick didn't challenge for the starting job after missing the first week of training camp for undisclosed personal reasons, and his conditioning also was in question. Now, he figures to be the starter until Stull returns.
Bostick was 27-of-42 for 230 yards and one touchdown while playing the second half against UConn, but threw three interceptions. He didn't face much of a rush with UConn content to lay back defensively and let Pitt drain the clock with short passes.
It could be much different at Virginia (3-1), which means another freshman - running back LeSean McCoy - may also play a major role. UConn's big lead and some puzzling play-calling led McCoy to carry only 11 times against the Huskies, but he has rushed for 417 yards and a 6.4 yards per carry average in his first four college games.
Unlike Bostick, McCoy spent last year at a prep school and didn't go directly from high school to major college football.
``I was really hopeful that we could have brought Pat along a little bit slower, to be honest,'' Wannstedt said. ``LeSean has made enough plays and done enough things that he needs to be on the field.''
To the 19-year-old McCoy, it's easier to make the transition to college football as a running back than as a quarterback.
``You really have to know everything (as a quarterback),'' McCoy said. ``A running back just has to know who to block and what the linemen are doing.''
After Pitt's poor play Saturday, Wannstedt made his quarterbacks off limits to reporters, and Bostick hasn't talked about his pending start.
``Hopefully, me and LaRod (Stephens-Howling, Pitt's other top tailback) can get in there and help him out a little bit ... and he can get into a rhythm with some easy throws and easy reads,'' McCoy said. ``No matter what class you are or how old you are, you have to be ready to play at this level. It's college football, big-time football, so sophomore or freshman, you have to come ready to play.''

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