Sept. 17, 2012
Coach Paul Chryst Press Conference
Gardner-Webb Game Preview
September 17, 2012
"Still appreciative and feel good about the win Saturday. A lot of the same things that I felt after the game, I still feel. Proud of the effort and happy for the players. Some of the things that I think are important to winning games, if you can win the turnover battle in any game and if you can take advantage of opportunities, you've got a better chance. The encouraging thing and the necessary thing for us is to learn from that tape. There are a lot of areas and I think every group can get better. That's encouraging and we need to do that. We need to take advantage of this week to continue to get better. I liked the way guys prepared and we've got to keep learning to prepare better. We've all got to keep moving forward. That's what this season is; you try to get better from the previous week. Gardner-Webb is this week and I told this to the group last week, that the game is always about you and it's about our preparation and how you apply it to our opponent. If you approach the game that way, you keep your focus and you've got a chance to be best you can be."
On how the offensive line is improving:
"The seniors and Ryan (Turnley) and `Lumpy' (Chris Jacobson) are taking ownership of it. I think they're enjoying the work, the way they prepare. They do a lot together, whether it's watching film and what not. I think they're enjoying every phase of what we're doing and asking them to do. Not that they're having fun every time when we're grinding on the field, but they know why we're doing it and they're a group that likes to work. I think they're prepared and getting better each week at preparing themselves, therefore I think come game day they're as prepared as any group, just the competition. We've talked a lot about this that we're all fortunate to be doing this and with that comes the responsibility, preparation and work. I think those guys -- not that there aren't other groups -- I think those guys are embodying that and they've been fun to be around."
On the offensive line responding to the coaching style of Jim Hueber:
"I think that's a credit to `Huebs' and to them. His style worked for a lot of guys and in different places. The beautiful thing is sometimes linemen are still linemen no matter where they're at. That's why we like them. We ask a lot of them, we want to ask a lot of them and they respond to that."
On responding to the loss at Cincinnati game with a win against Virginia Tech:
"I think you've got to build on everything you do positively. It wasn't all of the sudden a whole different group. I think you can take just one little thing that got better -- sacks -- boy they got a lot better. Everyone got better I think and we still gave up some hits. That's on everyone. We talked about it last week -- it's on the line, it's on the tight end and it's on the quarterback.
"It really is never as good or bad as it seems. Our job is to keep them focused and concentrated on things that need to be improved and make sure we're helping them get there so we can continue to grow."
On what he did with his game ball he received from the players:
"I gave it to Ox (equipment manager Tim Enright). It meant a lot obviously because it came from the players and yet really everyone was a part of it. I understand the significance of it and the story but there are a lot of people that did a lot more than I did in that game. It certainly means a lot and when it comes from the players, that's what you're in it for. I thought our coaches did a great job of preparing guys and having been coaching them this whole time. I think it's really for all of us."
On the game plan for the running backs as the season continues:
"We'll see how it unfolds. I thought all the backs did some good things. Obviously, Isaac (Bennett) didn't get as many snaps as he's had in previous games but it's not indicative of anything he's been doing or not doing. I thought Rushel (Shell) and Ray (Graham) both did some good things. This isn't just lip service, but the thing that is encouraging to me is they both can get better. How it plays out in the game, I really couldn't tell you.
"We've got to keep bringing everyone along. I think the game dictates certain things and that's what I felt Saturday was. I saw shades of some of the other times I've been around where backs have split (time). I saw them celebrating each other's accomplishments and what was happening. I think there's some pride in that running back group. If we can keep that going and if we can keep improving, I think they can fuel each other in a lot of different ways. Ray knew when Rushel was getting hot. Ray responded and made a couple plays. With the limited snaps Isaac played I thought he did good things. How it plays each week I do not know and never have when I've been in those situations."
On if they've discovered any newfound depth at new positions:
"Don't think there has been any big revelations or anything. Still feel we've got some depth at safety. I think we developed a little bit more depth this past week at tight end. I thought J.P. (Holtz) did a good job in his first start. At receiver, there are some guys that you feel good about having in, so you've got some depth there. I feel like the kind of things we knew about before and in the course of a season you're going to need all those. (Defensive end) Devin Cook had an opportunity to go and played and made some good plays and grew. He'd been taking some snaps, but he'd been a two but got more reps and I think he got better with it. The names aren't necessarily any different than what we thought, but you only know for real with what happens in a game. As the course of the season goes and guys get dinged up you're going to need more and that's when guys have to rise to the occasion and I think there were some that did."
On the progress of Todd Thomas:
"We still feel good and I think he does. It's going to be hopefully this week the same as what we talked about last week -- that each day he'll do a little bit more. When it's going to be, I don't know. You can't put a timetable on it."
On preventing a let down against Gardner-Webb:
"One thing is that you approach it like we have every week and we will continue to approach it as long as I'm here every week. The focus is on you and your team and how you can get better and you have to respect the game. That's a pretty short memory if you haven't learned those lessons with this group this year. I think every week you go about it the same way and I think more over time they understand but you have to be consistent. They'll get that every game is important and that every game is an opportunity. Shoot, we have so many on the schedule that are guaranteed, but as a player you see that every year where it might be your last play. You have to play with a grateful attitude that you get to play the game. Do we need to address it? Maybe we do. It's not like they're getting hit with it every day, but if you're a player and you respect your team and appreciate your team, there is absolutely no way you don't respect your opponent."
On the defense forcing turnovers against Virginia Tech:
"I thought the first pick was a great example. That's why football is a great game, we've got pressure on the quarterback and Lafayette (Pitts) gets his hands in there and Jarred (Holley) gets the pick. A lot of things happen and if they're doing their job you'll get a better result. A lot of guys were doing their job and you know what, they get a completion. It doesn't guarantee it, but it gives you a chance. At times it seems like either you give them away or get them in groups. You've just got to keep playing and play every play like it's that last play. All the corny coaching quotes are there and are still really real. You've just got to keep grinding. I believe if you keep working at it things will come your way."
On what turnovers do for a team:
"I think it's huge. I think it's a big part of it. Being able to capitalize on it and I think that's one thing we did better than any other week. Hopefully we grew, but we'll find out if it was real or a one-game thing. You have to play as a team. If something comes your way, if you capitalize it, that's how you keep momentum on your side. If you get a turnover and don't capitalize on it, now you give the opponent the pendulum swinging back the other way. That's how football teams play, if you turn the ball over and the defense comes up with a stop that brings the momentum back your way. If the opponent scores and you come back with a score. The game is going to have the swings in momentum. The teams that are mentally tough and truly play for each other, I believe, find a way. Covering up for teammates or seizing the moment and, hey, we got them, now this is how you jump on them. Those are great lessons and great things to see. Those are areas we can continue to grow."
On Tino Sunseri playing through injury:
"Tino is smart enough to know a lot of other guys are banged up. Mike Shanahan was pretty banged up too. Couple linemen were banged up; I know Aaron Donald was playing hurt. Bryan Murphy played hurt. That's part of the game and that's what you respect about the guys that play it. It is a physically tough game and you have to be mentally tough. I thought he did a lot of good things and he's no different than what we talked about with the others, where the exciting thing is he can still get better. He earned being named the Big East Player of the Week and yet he didn't do one thing on his own. It's a great game; it's a team game. You appreciate guys that put themselves out there, but he is not alone."
"A lot of times guys can have a really good game and do exactly what you want and the action doesn't come their way. Some action came Jason's way, both the run and the pass game, and I thought he did some really good things. It was good to get K'Waun back and to get him playing. I don't know if you ever get in a season where everyone is healthy, but if you can get everyone healthy it sure is a good feeling."
Pitt held off by No. 25 Virginia Tech, 39-36
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