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Sept. 16, 2013

Paul Chryst Press Conference 

Duke Game Preview

September 16, 2013


Opening statement:

“Obviously it was good to get a victory. It was fun to be back on the field playing. We’re looking forward to this week, a normal game week of preparation. We’re getting back into ACC play and going on the road for the first time. We’re certainly looking forward to this week.”

On getting into a rhythm now by playing every Saturday:

“We hope so. The way things are laid out, you embrace it. It’s the greatest thing for this team. But it is good to get into a rhythm.”

On how his team did with fundamentals against New Mexico:

“I thought we did a better job of tackling. The first half in particular, we did a really good job on defense of being disciplined with our assignments. When we had opportunities to tackle, we tackled better. Offensively, we were on edge early, but I thought we did a better job as the game went on. That’s the message all the time: you get better by getting better at your technique and fundamentals. You never get bored coaching those, and players can’t ever get bored working on those.”

On why freshmen can make such an impact in college football today:

“Obviously it depends on a lot of variables like who’s here already and who are the freshmen. It’s your job as a coach to make sure that your best players can play. At times, I’ve been at places where it was harder for freshmen to play because of what we were able to ask all of our players to do. I know a lot of really good high school coaches. So maybe what freshmen are learning and what they can bring to the table is more advanced, but I don’t know what it was like [a long time ago]. My dad was ineligible his freshman year, but there were a lot of really good coaches then too. I’m glad right now that we have a group that can help us.”

On if kids are more mature coming out of high school:

“They’re not more mature than we were certainly. (smiles) You hope not; you hope they’re still kids. There’s awareness with everything. I know with my kids, they’re a lot more advanced in many ways than I ever was, but maybe they get that from their mom.”

On using freshman offensive tackle Dorian Johnson:

“Right now we think Dorian’s a guy that is certainly ready to contribute, and we think there are ways that we can use him. It may differ from game to game, but certainly when we play a guy we want to make sure that we’re committed enough to make it a worthwhile year for the young man. We’ll have some things for Dorian. If something happened at one of the tackle spots, he’d absolutely play, and there are some other ways we might look at using him.”

On if any other freshmen will have their redshirt removed:

“Right now, I don’t think so.”

On the challenge of playing on the road:

“Any time you take a team on the road, there’s a change in the schedule. Sometimes maybe the older players are more engrained in the schedule at home and it’s a bigger change. We have to make sure they have their IDs to get on the plane, we have to make sure they know to pack. It’s all of those things, but it’s the truth. It’s something different. Some of those are more of [operations director] Chris [LaSala]’s headaches than mine. I’m alright with that, too. You just embrace it and they have to go play somewhere different. It’s going to be a new locker room. We have to just jump in.”

On helping quarterback Tom Savage avoid interceptions but not play too conservative:

“That’s part of playing the game. You want guys to feel like they go out and they’re confident. Then they have to trust themselves and turn it loose. You always play to win and compete. There’s always going to be corrections that can be made. [Tom] knew what he did wrong [on the first interception] just as he began to chase. That’s life. We have to do a better job. We’re not protecting the football. He knows that. We’ve got to do things to make sure we’re helping him. You want guys to go out and play and turn it loose, and you don’t want a quarterback any different than that.”

On how Savage has played in the first two games:

“I think he’s done a pretty good job. It’ll really sound like a broken record coming from me, but you could take every game and take plays where you can say ‘if you play like that, we have a chance.’ Then you see things where you can clean up and things that you can’t let happen, and in both games I think he’s done that. I haven’t been around a quarterback that you don’t have one or two plays [you want back], but I think he’s working through things. I love his approach, and that’s important because he wants to learn and takes ownership of it. Those are fun guys to coach.”

On any possible depth chart changes at running back:

“I don’t think anything so significant. I thought both Isaac [Bennett] and James [Conner] had moments where they ran extremely hard and did a good job. Both of them need to clean up some ball security, even guys that didn’t fumble, where we’re putting the ball out there a little bit. Isaac was down on his, but the ball came out. It’s like what we’re telling Tommy [Savage], we want them to go out and play and trust themselves. But there’s not one guy or coach on this team that can’t get better.”

On if James Conner’s fumble was due to how he carries the ball:

“No, I think especially with guys who get on the field they have a tendency to let the ball get away from their bodies a little bit and certainly that was [the case]. It was right down the pipe, and there are going to be bodies in there. It’s like we were talking about last week with missed tackles. Turnovers don’t happen unless someone else makes a play. We had a nice turnover and thought we did a great job of knocking off a potential New Mexico player who could have recovered it. Our guys did some things to make a play, whereas they’re [the opponent] coaching that they need to take care of the ball. On James’ fumble, they’re saying that play was exactly what we want, and we’re saying that’s exactly what we don’t want. That’s one thing that we have to clean up fast is the turnovers.”

On early impressions of Duke:

“Certainly, offensively I have a ton of respect and have followed Coach [David] Cutcliffe’s career. What they’re doing now offensively presents a lot of challenges. It’s well designed. They have the ability to be very balanced. Defensively, they truly have a base, and I think their guys know it and understand it, which allows them to play fast. However, they have enough changeups that our players need to be aware and be sound schematically. Even the special teams, they have some things that if you fall asleep or aren’t locked in, it can present challenges. Certainly we have a lot of respect for them and what they’re doing, and our guys need to have a great week of preparation. We need to have a good plan. I’m looking forward to that.”

On the differences of preparing for an offense like New Mexico’s compared to Duke’s:

“That’s the great thing about playing a season…every week is a different preparation. That’s why it’s so important for us to learn from the past. But you have to approach each week truly like it’s a clean slate. You could face the same playbook, but the players are different week to week and you better be tuned into that. You could see the same blitzes or the same runs, but when they come and how they do it are different. That’s what is great about this game is each week truly is a new week and our players need to come over here today, have a clean look at it and then start our preparation. That’s what is fun about it.”

On linebacker Todd Thomas returning to the starting lineup:

“I’ve loved his approach. Todd is a guy that has ability. He had a great approach and put himself in a position where we certainly needed him. I thought he played well. The way he’s gone about just the day-to-day has given him a chance to have a chance on Saturday, and then he took advantage of that chance.”

On injuries:

“Right now, knock on wood, we’re pretty good. We came out of the game alright. Bam [Bradley] went through warm-ups and didn’t go, but hopefully that’s better now. There is nobody right now that won’t practice as of my understanding.”



Meet the Press: Paul Chryst previews the Duke game

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