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Oct. 7, 2013

Paul Chryst Press Conference

Virginia Tech Game Preview 

Opening statement:

“It’s good to be back into a game week. We’re certainly excited. We got some things accomplished last week. We worked on some different areas that I thought we needed work on. We got some guys a little bit healthier hopefully. We’re certainly looking forward to this week. Virginia Tech is 5-1 after losing the opener to Alabama. They’re finding different ways to win. They’re playing pretty well right now and we’ve got a heck of a challenge. I’m excited to get back into game week, go down there and keep finding out who we are as a team.” 

On the availability of quarterback Tom Savage and other injured players:

“[Tom Savage] has been cleared. Shane [Gordon] is going to try and see where he’s at. [Bryan] Murphy missed the last couple games; we think he is going to go. Particularly with Murphy and Shane, we don’t know how they’ll feel. They both did some running and other things last week, so we’ll see. We had them doing some stuff, but no contact. But for the most part, we’re as healthy as we’ve been in a while.” 

On defending Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas:

“I think they’re a little bit different [than last year]. He’s a guy that can hurt you running the ball as well as throwing. They’ve got a couple good receivers. Like a lot of teams, they can spread you out, but they can run power with him. He’s pretty good. Like any quarterback, we want to make him uncomfortable. I think any defensive staff would say that going into the game. We want to make the quarterback uncomfortable. But I think they’re settling in as they keep evolving. He’s obviously a tremendous athlete and talented quarterback. If he’s going, their team is going. It’ll be a challenge for us. He’s a good player.” 

On defending teams that run the spread offense:

“It’s about playing assignment football. And it’s about tackling; you’re tackling in space a lot of times. Hopefully we’ve improved. We’ll find out. You find out every week where you’re at as a team. Each opponent presents different opportunities, and we’ll certainly be challenged this week. I like where our guys are at, but we’ll find out.” 

On how he works to keep the team grounded during their current winning streak:

“We just throw the [game] tape on again. I like our guys. I thought going in that working on truly genuine confidence is something you have to go out and earn it. What’s written in the papers or rankings doesn’t matter. We’ve got guys working and gaining confidence, but I don’t think anyone feels like they’ve arrived yet. I would be really disappointed if that was the case. I don’t believe it at all. The game makes all of us honest.” 

On if he talks to the team about big-picture goals this season:

“No, not really. We talk about being the best you can be. We talk about playing good football. Winning is a byproduct of doing all of the little things right. It’s important to focus on things you can control. You can control your approach. You can control what you can improve on. If each individual gets better, we’re going to get better as a team. Right now, we need to live in the here and now. It’s Monday of Virginia Tech week. Tomorrow we’ll focus on Tuesday of Virginia Tech week. It’s OK to see the big picture, but that’s the beautiful thing about sports: you focus on the now.” 

On playing against a ranked team:

“Again, you watch the film and see — if you’re a guy on defense — Logan Thomas, a couple good receivers and a good offensive line. That’s what grabs the focus. If you have ‘X’ amount of energy to focus on, you throw the film on, and that’s what you’ll focus on. If you’re on offense, you focus on attacking a very good defense. That’s the focus, and we’ll keep hammering that at them.” 

On whether Virginia Tech’s defensive success is the result of personnel or scheme:

“I think it is both [scheme and personnel]. They’ve got really good corners. Therefore, if you have good corners and a good secondary, it frees them up to do a little bit more and bring more guys in pressure. Scheme and personnel go hand-in-hand. Obviously, for a long time they’ve played great defense. That’s what makes a great coach: he plays to the strengths of his players. I think they’re a good defense, and that’s usually the case.” 

On James Conner earning more carries than Isaac Bennett:

“We want to go with whoever is playing the best. Both have done some good things, and both have areas that they’ve got to get better at. That’s part of the reason why both are in there — the good and the bad. We’ve got to keep helping each of them grow and be more consistent. The playing time will work itself out then.” 

On the tight ends:

“Each of them can provide. When you look at total number of snaps, they’re all in the same area. We’re young. J.P. [Holtz] is the most experienced. Manasseh [Garner] is older in age, but he sat out last year. Scott [Orndoff] and Jaymar [Parrish] are true freshmen. They’re all worthy of getting their reps. And as they evolve, you evolve with them.”

On Virginia Tech’s team compared to last year: 

“There are a lot of the same guys, but I think they’re a little bit different. I think they’re doing things a little different this year. You can use last year as a reference point, but you certainly have to concentrate this year. There are a lot of similarities personnel-wise. They’re playing fast in the back end and aggressive up front. They’re physical when they run the ball, and they can create havoc, turnovers and sacks. I think they’re playing really confident, and they should be.”

On the approach of coaching a freshman kicker in Chris Blewitt: 

“I think every guy needs coaching, and that’s why I feel really fortunate with Taylor Mehlhaff being able to coach him. He’s a part of our team. We talk to him. I don’t try to over-coach him in terms of technique, but it’s no different than any other position. We’re fortunate to have Taylor here because you can and need to coach everyone.”

On if he is surprised by the contributions of true freshmen: 

“It all started in camp, and we were hoping to get production out of them. With freshmen, it’s a different environment and another experience for them. Tyler [Boyd] earned that starting spot by the middle of camp, but you still don’t know what kind of production you’ll get. James Conner got a lot of work and Matt Galambos kept getting better and better. Shakir Soto was playing, and he was here in the spring. I don’t know if you’re surprised because they’re in those roles and you’re hoping to get some production out of them. Every time somebody does something, you’re appreciative of it, whether it is a young guy or an old guy. When Devin Street and Aaron Donald produce, I don’t know if you’re surprised, but you’re appreciative of it. You don’t want to take anything for granted, so you have to appreciate it.”

On preparing for an away game in a hostile environment like Virginia Tech: 

“You can try to do a lot of things. With my past experiences, obviously when you go on the road and are on offense, crowd noise is going to be a factor. You can try and practice with it and mimic it, but there is no way to truly do that. That’s the beautiful thing about experience. We have the opportunity to go earn some experience and our guys have to be able to handle it, and we will try to help them. All of those things are a great part of it, and I’m looking forward to taking these guys down to a great atmosphere, but we have to be able to handle it.”

On the confidence of his team: 

“I like being around this group, but you would have to ask them as far as what they really feel. I don’t go around and ask them if they’re confident. But I think they’re confident, and I think they’re gaining confidence. I believe they like being around each other as a group and that they like to play football.”

On what he did during the open week: 

“I saw Central Catholic play Pine-Richland in a JV game. It was a stellar performance. (laughs) I went to a couple recruiting games, but I didn’t watch a ton of college football. It’s ‘Buctober’, so you have to focus on the Bucs. And the Penguins started.”

On the Pittsburgh Pirates: 

“Talking about a team, the best thing about watching them is they just keep playing even when their backs are against the wall. It’s fun to watch. It’s pretty exciting.”


Meet the Press: Coach Chryst previews the Virginia Tech game.

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