Paul Chryst addressed the media after the team's tough loss to Notre Dame. He looked ahead to UConn and here are the top ten quotes from the press conference as I saw them. You can check out the entire transcript here.
10. "..I think in this case a shorter week, one-day shorter week, is maybe a good thing"
Ordinarily, I'd disagree, but Chryst has a point here. Not so much because it's good for them to get back to playing - rather, the Huskies are on just as short of a week. It might not necessarily be a good thing, but it's no worse for Pitt as UConn had a late game in South Florida and both teams are going on less time to prepare.
9. (On how he can keep the players from playing to the level of their opponent): "...Only the individual knows if they truly laid it all on the line, if they truly did everything they can in preparation and as they play. I think you can grow and each guy can work to get to that point. I think we can get better in that area, players and coaches."
This always seems to be a problem for Pitt. I'm sure it's a problem for other schools as well, but man - Pitt seems like they're always falling short to inferior teams. Chryst is right when he says it will take the players and coaches to do better, but this an area where I think the coaches really need to prove their worth. Somehow, they've got to get the players to be motivated - that's their job.
8. (On if he sent in any of the officiating calls to be reviewed by the Big East): "There are a lot of things that don’t go your way…There’s what, 200 some plays in that game? We had our opportunities to win that game and we didn’t"
Yeah, we'll that's great. I don't blame Chryst, who admitted that he did send these in for review. But there's nothing that can be done so it's a big 'meh' for me. More to the point - the part of the quote that I clipped is what's really important. There are tons of plays and Pitt could have made a few others to win the game, and they simply didn't get it done. That said ...
7. (On the pass interference call against K’Waun Williams in the fourth quarter): "It didn’t go our way... There are a lot of big plays in that game. I think it’s our job to find a way to win. Something that the opponent does, if it’s a call that doesn’t go your way, if it’s rain, if it’s wind — you’ve got to just overcome and that’s how you win games and we didn’t do that."
I've said this before, but just because Pitt could have made any number of other plays doesn't mean the terrible pass interference call was insignificant. If there's one play you point to and say Pitt had the game taken away from them a bit, it's that one. You've got to overcome it and find a way to win as Chryst suggests, but ... some plays are really difficult to overcome.
6. (On how he can keep kicker Kevin Harper’s confidence up): "He’s had misses before (and responded positively). There’s more focus on this one, but you’ve just got to go back to work and do the things that you can. That’s the only way you can approach it. Just got to move forward with it."
If there's anyone that was left for dead, it was Harper. He really struggled through a stretch of four games when he made only four of his nine field goal attempts. Since then, though, Harper's been much better. In the three games following that stretch, he's connected on eight of his nine attempts. Yeah, we'll get to that miss in a little bit.
5. (On the snap issues between center Ryan Turnley and quarterback Tino Sunseri): "That was the case when they had movement on the defensive line, Ryan snapped it thinking we’d get them over and it would result in a first down. Tino didn’t field the snap cleanly and then the second down, same thing..."
4. (On if that early snap had been practiced): "We’ve practiced it. Couple times of day you’ll get that. We’ve handled it well in practice. If we didn’t handle it, we wouldn’t give Ryan the freedom to do that."
The snaps, if you missed them, were an utter disaster. There were a few of them and there's no excuse to repeatedly botch them. It's even more appalling since Chryst says they practiced it every day. Just a total lapse in thinking there and in a close game, it's inexcusable. Crowd noise likely contributed to it, but just something you've got to play through.
3. (On if he addressed the team on how the missed field goal fit within the game): "Yeah, that’s the thing and obviously we have to make sure everyone (knows). It’s a team game. There are 200-and-some snaps and every one of those plays impacted that game. The guys know that, everyone knows that and everyone knows who plays the game, who follows the game, there are some significant plays, some more significant than others. But I don’t know if one play ever is the difference in the game. Could be a difference, but that could’ve been happening the third quarter, fourth quarter. All those can be, but we all know that."
2. (On the comments made by quarterback Tino Sunseri following the loss): "I don’t agree with it. We all understand and need to and we have to make sure everyone is squared away there. Don’t agree with the comment, but I think there are a lot of plays. A lot of guys made plays to put us in position to win that game and we all did some things that led to us not winning. It doesn’t fall on one guy."
1. (On if he’ll talk to Sunseri about his comment): "Yeah, I will."
Well ... it's safe to say that Chryst isn't all that happy with Sunseri - and I don't blame him. Sunseri may have been correct to a degree that the field goal could have won them the game, but what about all the ones Harper made? Further, had Sunseri made a few plays himself in the 4th quarter, the game never would have gotten to OT. I'm not convinced he was trying to throw Harper under the bus and Sunseri, maybe more than anyone after last year, understands games aren't won or lost by any one person. But it was an unfair statement by him and I'd guess he knows that.