Vince Lombardi said it well. "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." I'd like to modify his legendary words slightly if I may. You will get knocked down. You have the choice to get back up. In the game of football, as in life, one's response to adversity will come to define their character.
This Pitt football team is faced with some adversity right now, there's no question. Coming off a loss, they had a short week to prepare for their conference opener against Cincinnati. How did they respond? Coach Chryst was asked the question early this week.
"I love right now where this group is at and I think they've had the right response," he said. "They certainly weren't happy with what happened, but they weren't in the tank either. They weren't hanging their heads and I think they saw the film and there's a little bit of 'we can and will do anything' to change it."
That's a start. After any loss, no matter who the opponent is, you've got to be able to turn the page. It sounds to me like this team came in on Sunday, watched the film of Saturday's game, learned from it and moved on to Cincinnati. Quite frankly, they didn't have much time to dwell on the past.
The Panthers went right to work. They had four days to prepare for tomorrow night's contest against Cincinnati. There were improvements to be made and they needed to be made fast. The good news is that the mistakes they made against Youngstown State were correctable, but they were mistakes nonetheless.
Pad level, tackling and ball security. Some may think these things are too fundamental or obvious to cite as areas for improvement after a loss. Some might even call them "boring." But the truth is that they can make the difference between winning and losing. Coach Chryst would know better than me. "Some of the things that are boring and not exciting to hear about really do make a difference," he said. "Those are the things that we get to go back and really hammer on and reinforce."
Hammer and reinforce they did. I can assure this week of practice was every bit as intense and focused as any. These guys worked. They picked themselves off of the ground pretty quickly after Saturday's disappointment. They've had a chip on their shoulder this week. That's a good sign. It doesn't guarantee them anything. They still have to go out there and execute tomorrow night. But it gives them a chance - an opportunity to turn this thing around.