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Nov. 18, 2013

Coach Paul Chryst Press Conference
Syracuse Game Preview

Opening statement:

“There were certainly a lot of lessons we can learn and need to take away from last Saturday’s game. We’re truly looking forward to this week and bouncing back with our guys. It’s a big game for both us and Syracuse. We’re both 5-5. So I’m looking forward to a good week.”

On the first half against North Carolina:

“I think you always look at how you start. We had a good drive; we didn’t finish it as far as a touchdown, but we got the field goal. Defensively, we got a three-and-out. The big play was the fumble we had in the red zone. Then they got a fourth down and the first of the two punt returns to finish out the half. We did some things; we just didn’t finish our drives offensively and defensively. We put ourselves in a heck of a hole.”

On dealing with offensive inconsistency:

“It’s inconsistent in the groups. On the sacks, the first one we got a throw but Tom [Savage] didn’t see it; another one, the guard gets beat. It’s not like guys are riding a wave of being into it and out of it. But guys are taking turns making mistakes that we can’t rally past. The way we’re playing, we’re living with a fine margin of error. I don’t question the approach. No one is dogging it and turning it on and off.”

On the mistakes made by the team:

“It always concerns you. You know the things you have to do to have a chance to win and when you aren’t doing that. I truly believe it’s not a lack of effort or that the guys aren’t capable of doing something. We don’t want to miss tackles. We don’t want to miss blocks. It happens. Assignment mistakes are more concerning than a guy getting beat. We need to keep grinding away at it.”

On whether missing reserve defensive backs Titus Howard and Trenton Coles hurt the defense:

“A little bit. Jahmahl [Pardner] was able to help with some of that. We also brought Terrish [Webb] in and dropped Jason [Hendricks] down some, which I thought fit what we were looking for with his size. Titus has given us a lot of good snaps, and I thought Trenton was really starting to come on and it’s a shame he got hurt. He was hitting stride and making an impact on special teams. I sure like our units when he’s on it. We want those guys on the field. But I thought we had a good plan, and I don’t think it handicapped us or prevent us from doing something.

On special teams assignments:

“Each coach is in charge of a phase. Ultimately, I’m responsible for them all. So if they want to blame someone, they can blame me.”

On the 4th & 1 play on Pitt’s last drive:

“Their execution was better. We didn’t get it. We didn’t have great movement and got caught in the back side a little bit. There are better calls for that situation. It had been a good run for us, but absolutely their execution was better than ours on that play.”

On his level of concern about long-term injuries:

“You’re concerned about them and you don’t know what drove those. They didn’t just happen. You want to know if it’s something we’re doing here and then evaluate it. We want everyone playing and appreciate the guys who have had opportunities and are stepping in. That is part of football. You want Cory King to be able to finish out his senior season playing. I know [Adam] Bisnowaty is fighting through it. One thing you feel good about here is you don’t have to go far to receive good care and you just want to make sure for all of them that you’re not jeopardizing them. I don’t think it’s anything specific, it’s just happened to be those things.”

On whether he’ll re-evaluate the offseason plan to limit injuries:

“We always do. If we had an inkling that was causing it, we would change it right now in a heartbeat. We’re going through it and trying to ascertain what’s driving it. With Bisnowaty it’s been a long-term thing, and with Cory, they don’t think there’s anything [specific] that has been the reason behind it.”

On the left tackle rotation between Juantez Hollins and Dorian Johnson:

“I thought at the time that Juantez [Hollins] would give us a little bit better chance. I thought Dorian [Johnson] did some very good things. In many ways, he played better than the Georgia Tech game. With Juantez, you get an older guy and an experienced guy. We made the switch during the course of the game.

“You’re always happy when guys are given an opportunity to contribute and you hope that for every guy. There’s that selfish part in everyone that wants to play. You also hope there’s a part that just wants to contribute to the team. You’re excited for Dorian in that it’s his first year and excited for Juantez in that it’s his last. For different reasons you want everyone to value the snaps that they get and approach it in a way that they’ll do anything for themselves and our team. I think [Juantez] did [earn more playing time] and I thought Dorian did some really good things too. He made some progress from start one to start two.”

On running back James Conner:
“He ran really hard and it was fun to see. I thought he gave us some energy. Hopefully every time you take a snap in a game you grow and I think with young guys there might be a bigger growth opportunity because there’s not a whole lot to draw on. I think James approached it the right way and think he will learn from those.”

On the running backs doing a better job of following blocks:
“I thought James [Conner] has, but I thought he bounced one outside that was a pretty good bounce so the guys have to be able to run. I think him and Isaac [Bennett] both have been doing a better job of staying with the run particularly if it’s not there. If something’s not there, don’t try to hope something outside of the hole is there. Sometimes those one- and two-yard runs are alright if you establish it and then you can play action off it.”

On the familiarity of playing Syracuse in the Carrier Dome:
“I think for some of the guys it will certainly help. We’ve got a good group though. Tom [Savage] was telling me he played up there when he was at Rutgers. We’ve obviously got a group of freshmen that haven’t been up there. Certainly for some of our juniors and seniors and guys that have been up there before, [the experience] will be helpful.”

On the health of the team coming out of the game:

“Both Tom [Savage] and Devin [Street] are doing alright right now. We have to be smart today. With all of the other guys that missed last week, we’ll see. Scott [Orndoff] is probably one that is furthest away. Cory [King], we will have to see how he responds. With [Adam] Bisnowaty, he had treatment and now we have to see how it comes back, so we’re just waiting to see what happens…I don’t know [if Orndoff is done for the season]. That’s why I don’t want to rule that out at all; I think he’s a long shot to play this week. I don’t think the [injuries to Titus Howard and Trenton Coles] are long-term things. They said they’re getting better and once you add the exercise back, we’ll see what happens. With Ejuan Price, that was one of those where we have a chance at the end of the season; that’s why we haven’t ruled him out. He’s doing a little bit more, but I don’t know. It’s like Scott’s where we have a chance at the end for both of them.”


Meet the Press: Pitt prepares for Syracuse in the Dome

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