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Oct. 15, 2012

Coach Paul Chryst Press Conference
Buffalo Game Preview

Opening Statement:

“The film didn’t change the result of the game and yet I think it did reveal we played a good team and I thought Louisville in the end made more plays. For us to beat a good team like Louisville we have to do some things better. Certainly offensively we have to finish drives and get a chance to make some plays, we have to do that. We have to protect the quarterback better and on special teams, our punt team, we have to get a lot better in a hurry – two costly negative plays. Defensively – Louisville, give them credit, (they) made some plays – but we have to get off the field on third down. We certainly gave up too many big plays. With that being said I thought there were some other things we can build on and need to. I’m looking forward to this week and going up to Buffalo. Before we get on the buses and go we have to have a good week of practice. Yesterday we had a good day and I wouldn’t expect anything else than a good week.”

On how the team bounced back from two losses earlier this season and if the coaching staff will look to use that formula again:

“Truthfully I think it’s probably that we didn’t do anything magical to get back. I think we just played more complete, didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot as much. I think that you’ve got to have a balance in staying steady and improving. I think there are guys in certain areas that are getting better. Probably I’m not unique in feeling this, but we have to turn it to where on game day we play one opponent and not two. I think about the punt team for instance. Those are things we can control and we can do better. If we can clean that area up then I feel like we can be better in that unit. Not giving two – shoot, one was inside the 20 and the other one we didn’t change the field. We’ve got to keep working and guys have to take ownership of the things they can control. Coaches need to take control of what we can control. We’ve got to put it together.”

On if the punt team had shown trouble before the Louisville game:

“Certainly we had in the coverage, Virginia Tech took one back on us. The protection had been pretty good and I would not have guessed the mistakes we made, I didn’t see them during the week, so those ones caught us or caught me off guard a little bit. It wasn’t a look that was hard and sometimes I think guys get in situations and you have a number of reasons and sometimes guys try to do too much. Some guys are maybe not focused in like they should and it’s our job to make sure they’re focused in. Our job is to make sure they trust what they do during the week and on game day they can just go out and execute. That’s the great thing about this, that when one thing happens everyone can take ownership in it. It’s our job to correct it.”

On if there are any second-string players threatening to crack the starting lineup:

“Todd Thomas is certainly getting healthier and, truthfully, able to have enough practice now under his belt. Last week and two weeks ago I think he felt like he was in camp a little bit. He’s doing a lot more in there for the body and responding and coming back. He’s the one guy who you could say that we know he’s a good player and it’s a matter of getting him back and getting him going. He’s probably the biggest one that comes to mind.”

On when starting long snapper Kevin Barthelemy will return:

“In a week or two. The stitches, I think he has one more grouping of stitches (in his hand) to come out and then kind of see how he handles coming back from everything. Should be a couple weeks, I’m hoping.”

On how he would grade himself midway through the season:

“Yeah I’d say it’s (Pitt’s record) two and four so that’s 33%. You know I don’t get into that. We’re not where we want to be. I think that guys are working and I appreciate that, but I’ll leave that (grading) for other people to do.”

On where the team has improved since the opening week:

“I hesitate a little bit because we’re not putting it together. We just came off a bye and lost two games. To sit there and say ‘boy we’re really doing this really well, I feel great about that.’ I think guys are improving in certain areas. Guys are getting a better understanding of things. There are some good things going on. I’m not discouraged one bit. Actually, through all this I’m encouraged that a lot of things that need to be fixed are fixable. We just have to keep going and not really being reflective, keep grinding away.”

On what the ideal running back situation with Ray Graham and Rushel Shell would be:

“An ideal would be that they’re both really productive and feeding off each other. I never have gotten caught up when I’ve been a part of situations in the past where ‘so-and-so’ needs to get so many carries and this guy gets so many carries. When both are playing at a high level, which I think they’re both capable of playing at a high level, I think the stat line can be different, but the impact can be the same. Those two have the ability to be difference makers in the game. Last week, Rushel had 18 carries and Ray had 6. At one time I looked real quick and both had 4 or 5 catches. How it disperses, a lot of it depends on the game. Go back to the Virginia Tech game when we had the lead, now the fourth quarter you’re running it a bit more and that can skew some things in a positive way with more attempts. Ideally both are factors and when they’re both playing at a high level, they’re both capable of it.”

On if he would have made a different call on the 4th down in the fourth quarter:

“It’s hard to sit up here knowing the result that we didn’t get it to say that ‘Yeah, I feel great about that.’ We do take every one of these situations, no matter when situations come up, if it’s other games or coaches are watching something, we’ll have a (practice) period in the week where we’re going to spend time on situations. I don’t feel that’s one where you’re sitting there and say, ‘Geez, if I had to do it all over again I absolutely would do that.’

“There were some things that worked in favor but we still feel really good about that. I don’t feel good about the execution and the result of it and I think, bottom line, that’s where if I’d fix anything I would fix the decision on it. I’m not trying to be stubborn and say ‘I’m never wrong’, but I’d be the first to admit that.”

On if he still has confidence in kicker Kevin Harper:

“Yeah, I told the guys there is going to come a time where we’re going to need Kevin and he’s going to deliver for us. That’s one I’m kind of second guessing myself after his first kick (50 yarder). I thought he had a heck of a pregame warm-up and he felt good about it. That one got me a little bit like ‘Was that really fair to the kid?’ No one wants to do better and make every field goal like Kevin and as long as he keeps working on it and going then that’s all you can really ask of him.”

On the difference between being an offensive coordinator up in the box and being the head coach on the sideline and making decisions:

“Absolutely there’s a difference. The scenario previously for me, my job was to always have that (play) call and then when he (the head coach) said lets go for it, it was ready to go. Now my job is to make that final call. Absolutely it’s different. I feel like we’ve been prepared but it’s for others to decide if it was the right thing to do. As far as our process, I felt pretty good about it.”

On how much he relies on a player for their assessment of an injury:

“That’s something I think I’m gaining insight into each guy. I think guys for the most part are pretty accurate on where they’re at health-wise. You hit on it, that trainers will tell you and the player. I haven’t been with (K’Waun Williams) for four years or any of these players, so you truly do get to know each guy week after week, year after year, better. I don’t think that was the case with K’Waun. Truthfully, I thought he made some pretty good plays. We’re not going to put anyone out there that shouldn’t be out there, I would hope not.”

On if he prefers a more separated schedule between non-conference and conference games:

“I’ve been around all types (of schedule patterns) and truthfully I think it’s week to week and you’re playing whoever it may be. There’s not one or the other from my viewpoint (that’s preferable). The only one I was part of was that at the end of our season at Wisconsin we played a I-AA opponent that was kind of a tough spot for that one. You weren’t at the point where you were trying to get guys playing. You’ve just come from a lot of intense conference games and we were in a bit of a race. I guess twice we’ve done that. I don’t really spend a lot of time worrying about it, not just this year but in years past. You just kind of go play and appreciate that.”

On the play of wide receiver Devin Street:

“Certainly been productive, has done some good things and made some plays. I think a lot of the guys doing really good things can still get better. I think he’s one of those who would fit in there who you want to push and he does have quite a bit of ability. Those are the ones who are fun to coach, the ones who can grow. You want to help them be as good as they can be. When those ceilings are high those are the fun ones to be around.”

On viewing the season as being at a crossroads:

“It is the mid-point of the season but I also think it is the time we’re they’re getting tired of me standing up — just the same as probably you guys — and saying we’re doing some good things, we’ve got to put it together…you can’t have the same storyline all the time because that means you’re really not getting better. The time is now and we’ve got to get things going and you play games and it’s a competition and that infers winning and losing. We want to win games and that’s the ultimate end result that you want when you play the game. A lot of things go in to it and I still think winning is a by-product of doing everything the right way. I think we’ve got to take some steps forward.”

On the status of linebacker Shane Gordon:

“Two different things (injuries in back-to-back games) and we’ll find out. This last week wasn’t related to the Syracuse game. Talking to him yesterday he felt like he was getting better from Saturday to Sunday. Now I don’t know where that’ll be. Two different injuries.”

On the return of linebacker Dan Mason from severe injury:

“I don’t think I can fully appreciate it as much. I can follow the story and understand, but such a lengthy rehab and then to go out and play. To get himself in the position where he can go out and play, it’s impressive. The thing I respect the most is what drove him — the passion for the game. With that being the driving force of all the work that went in to it and then being able to play. I’m just thankful that he is playing, that a guy can have a carrot and then can be rewarded by that, you can’t take that away from him again. If that was his goal, to set out and play again, he can check that one off. That to me is a pretty neat story.”



Meet the Press: Paul Chryst previews the Buffalo game

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