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Pitt vs Connecticut Postgame Quotes




Oct. 27, 2011

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PITTSBURGH -

Pitt Head Coach Todd Graham
Opening statement:
“We are pretty elated with how our guys responded today. I’m proud of how they went out today and played. We faced a lot of adversity tonight. Obviously, with Ray [Graham] going down early in the game, it was a big blow for us. I didn’t know anything other than he couldn’t come back the rest of the game.”

On the changes in the offensive line:
“We had a lot of guys go down. But, I was very proud of our offensive line play today. I challenged them to attack and walk onto the field with great confidence and be physical up front. I thought those guys played well. Ryan Turnley was unbelievable while playing through what he was playing through. The courage he showed tonight was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about him. He’s a tremendous warrior. I am really proud of him.”

On the performance of the offense:
“I thought our guys executed. One of the things we worked on was the passing game. One of the things I was very proud of was how our staff adjusted to some things this week that helped us.”

On Tino Sunseri’s performance:
“I was really pleased with Tino and how he managed the game. It’s the second time this year that we reached our goal of 100 percent ball security. We took care of the ball and didn’t turn the ball over tonight. We went back to some things that really helped him. 419 yards passing, that’s a good night. I thought Tino was very solid tonight.”

On the defense:
“Tonight, I thought our defense did a good job. We still need to get takeaways.”

On the next opponent:
“We’re excited to go onto the next step and that’s Cincinnati. I like how our guys have concern and care for each other. I like how our guys responded. They responded like champions.”

Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri
On Ray Graham’s injury:
“Whenever you lose a player like Ray Graham, it hurts a lot. He’s a vocal leader and he’s also one of the best backs in America. But the way Ray is he wanted to make sure we kept moving forward and that we won this game.

“Ray’s one guy who got hurt, but we’ve lost around five linemen. So we’ve been hit with the injury bug a little bit, but it just goes to show you what kind of guys we have behind them. Zach Brown came in and did a tremendous job in all three phases of playing running back — picking up the pass protection, making sure he’s getting out on his routes and running the football.”

On throwing for Heinz Field record:
“As a quarterback you’re just trying to make sure you’re moving the ball down the field. You can’t worry about anything else.”

Wide receiver Mike Shanahan
On using the run to set up the pass:
“We were able to use the run to our advantage. Our offense has a lot of pass options off our run. We’ve been working on that all week.”

On Tino Sunseri’s Heinz Field passing record:
“I didn’t know it was a record, but that’s great for him. He really played well. He gave us chances. You can’t really say enough about him.”

Pitt defensive tackle Chas Alecxih
On holding the lead throughout the game:
“We’ve had a lot of games this season where we let a team come back. We just put our foot down and said we weren’t going to let them do that.”

On UConn’s successful drives in the third quarter:
“They fought hard. I’ll give them that. There was no quit in them.”

On defensive performance:
“Our d-line has been phenomenal this year. A guy like Aaron Donald, who just comes in and steps up, I’m just so proud of our d-line and the linebackers too.”

Connecticut Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
Opening statement:
“I thought we came out and started the second half well. We didn’t play very well at all in the first half, but in the second half we came out and got started pretty good. We got it to eight (points) and had to settle for the three points, but we made it a one score game. I think what took the wind out of our sails was that next drive by Pitt. They went down and scored and made it a two score game again and we just seemed to never be able to really recover from that point. I thought Pitt played a very good game tonight and I thought the quarterback Tino Sunseri managed their offense, their run, the option – the throw part of it. You have to be an exact position when you are defending the back and then the quarterback on the run and then he’s throwing it going vertically down the field. You can’t be out of position at all and I thought he executed well.

"I thought our guys fought, but we just didn’t play well enough tonight. It’s disappointing because we practiced hard and prepared so hard for this team with the understanding of the complexity of what we getting into. Offensively – neither team did really well on third down, but we need to do a much better job obviously on third down.”

On Pitt’s passing game:
“That ball was going vertically down the field. It’s being thrown in the seam so once they get the ball in the seam there is some yards after the catch, as well. It’s all part of the design of what they do. To their credit, they hit some crossing routes and they caught us in man once or twice and they ran the wide receiver under and he came all the way across the field and we got caught in the traffic there a couple of times and those were complete. Sunseri completed some balls to the backs on some of the swings. Again, they executed well tonight.”

On UConn linebacker unit:
“We are doing to watch the film but what we are going to say -everybody who had pass coverage responsibly could have been a little bit better. At the end of the day, that’s what we will say. Coming off the run fake, sometimes you get a half step behind and I thought he (Sunseri) threw the ball pretty accurately tonight so it’s not going to be just the linebackers, it will be the safeties and it will end up being the corners and it will end up being everybody.”

On whether Ray Graham going down changed UConn’s game plan:
“The 42 number (pass opportunities) is high, but clearly Pitt has shown this year that they do want to throw the ball. They are running this spread offense in what opportunities that present themselves, but they are not throwing the ball that deep vertically down the field. They are throwing the ball up the field in the seams – even though they are not really long shots, they are in the seam. I thought they felt they would have a little more success utilizing the pass option off the run.”

UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee
On Pitt’s offensive strategy in the first half:
“Pitt was doing a pretty good job on coverage and we actually ran the ball pretty well the whole game. We had trouble passing in the first half and we couldn’t convert any third downs. We fell behind quick, but I think we came out in the second half and started moving the ball. We at least gave ourselves a chance to win when we came back out in the second half of the game. I missed a lot of throws at first but in the second half we started making more passes and plays happen. We executed a little better in the second half.

“On a couple of those first drives in the second half, if we would of played like that the whole game then I think we would have definitely come out with a win. It seems like that in every game, we do pretty well on certain drives and move the ball well, but we either can’t get a touchdown in the red zone or we can’t do it the whole game.

“I think it comes down to execution. We are doing a pretty good job at practice and our team is working really hard but we have to do a better job at executing.”

On Pitt’s six sacks against UConn:
“At least two or three of the sacks were on me. I have to do a better job at avoiding the rush and getting the ball out quicker.”

UConn linebacker Sio Moore
On Pitt’s offensive strategy:
“We didn’t come to play like we were supposed to and there wasn’t anything we didn’t know they were going to do. We prepared for this team for 10 days and we didn’t execute. Pitt did execute and they outplayed us tonight. Overall, they got the best of the match today. For us we didn’t capitalize on what we were supposed to and we didn’t make the right plays. Pitt was able to take small plays and turn them into big plays, which is what good teams do. Pitt proved they were the better team tonight.

“We needed to get a stop and we weren’t able to tonight. It’s one thing when you prepare all week and you want to win because every team wants to win, but you also have to know how to win and you have to execute. You have to make sure you do what you have to win. We came up short and that’s just how it is.”