Paul Chryst had his first official press conference of the season and we're back with a breakdown of the top ten quotes from it. This is likely going to be more difficult than finding a top ten for Todd "High Octane" Graham, but we'll manage. With that, I give you the top ten quotes from his weekly press conference.
10. "That’s one of the neat things, I think, about college football, that it transitions. Obviously, here we have a little more of a transition ..."
If there were ever a time for a quote that should be presented without comment, it's now.
9. (On the time Devin Street and Mike Shanahan missed) "I think we’re fortunate that specifically with Devin and Mike, they’ve played a lot of football and they’ve got good football IQ. So you don’t necessarily need to have a thousand reps of each route for them to understand and feel comfortable and develop timing with Tino."
Considering the group didn't have a great rapport last year makes me wish they had more time together in camp. Yes, they're all veterans and have played together for two years, but the three can't have enough reps as far as I'm concerned.
8. "Your systems have to be flexible enough to play to the strengths of those players. There are some core philosophies, special teams, defensively and offensively that you want to keep, but then I think it’s your job as a coach to play to the strengths of your players"
After witnessing last year, I can't tell you how true this is.
7. (On Ray Graham's injury) "Don’t exactly know where (he is) and each day is different with how he’s responding and doing different things and how he responds to that. One thing we’ve talked about is we’re going to err and rather play him a day late than a day too soon."
This sounds like it will come right down to the wire, but also sounds like Chryst may be leaning towards holding him out. And I'm okay with that, to be honest. It'd be nice to get him a few carries just to get some game experience before next week at Cincinnati, but he's a senior and has been in plenty of games.
6. (More on Ray Graham) "...he came to me one day and he wasn’t feeling great going in to it and it warmed up for him. I think all of those things, he has to go through those first. The other day he felt like it and he kind of confirmed to me that he made a cut and he was thinking about it."
Hard to imagine that Graham won't be thinking about the knee in the back of his mind. He had some full-contact in training camp at the end, but that probably wasn't much like what it will be with other teams likely going after the knee, even deliberately. The only thing we can hope for is that it's out of his mind pretty quickly.
5. (On the status of junior defensive back K’Waun Williams) "K’Waun, we’ll see on that one. He was able to do a few things yesterday and we’ll see how each day progresses for him and to make sure that nothing can be further injured, which right now I don’t believe that’s the case. He certainly is day-to-day."
This one kind of caught me by surprise. I knew he sat out a bit this week, but didn't know how serious it was. The good news is that, unlike in past years, Pitt has some good depth in the secondary. Both freshman Lafayette Pitts and transfer Cullen Christian have been battling it out for the second spot. To start both doesn't have me shaking in my boots like it may have in past years when a starter went down.
4. (On what facets of Tino Sunseri’s game stand out) "I think there’s more than one and that’s why he’s going to be our starter. Just mechanics and taking the play and communicating it. He reads defenses well. I think he’s talented enough in arm strength. He has enough mobility."
Talented enough? Enough mobility. That pretty much sums up Pitt's quarterback situation. Sunseri is essentially deemed adequate at best and, at this point, to be honest, there's no reason to be upset with that. Sunseri is what he is and if he's only adequate, Pitt should have a pretty good year.
3. (On the possibility of a redshirt for Chad Voytik depending on the health of the quarterbacks) "Yeah, I think that because we don’t have a lot of quarterbacks, Chad (Voytik) has been able to get a lot of work. So you want to keep him developing. And yet right now we feel really good with where Tino’s at and Trey has really improved. So we just have to keep taking it as it comes and try to make sure – we’ll never put any player in that isn’t ready for it."
On the surface, this might sound bad. Voytik looked really good towards the end of camp and based on what Greg and I saw in the second scrimmage, was very impressive. Chryst talking about a redshirt here (I hope, anyway) is if Sunseri is healthy for the entire year. If someone's merely needed for some mop-up duty, I hope it goes to Trey Anderson. But if Sunseri struggles wildly or sustains an injury, my hope is that he goes with the next best option - and to me, that's Voytik.
2. "Well we talk a lot about controlling the controllables. I think a lot of those things (achieving championship goals) are by-products from doing your job and focusing on the things that we can control and those things will be a by-product of that. It’s not to say that those aren’t things you hope are residual awards or rewards or effects of doing your job and focusing on things we can control. I think that’s the best way of accomplishing your goals — to focus on the process and not the results. A lot of people want that, we all want that, but we’ve got to do a lot of things to put ourselves in that position so we’ll focus a lot on the things we can control."
1. On where he sets the bar for the team this season: "I’ve never gotten into trying to predict that, you know we hope we keep improving as we play each game. I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about that."
Look, I like Chryst a lot. But shying away from setting goals is a bit odd to me. Surely, the team has some goals internally, but sorry - in my mind, you've got to come out and say what the goal is. What's the point in not discussing it, we all already know it's to win the conference. The Big East is winnable and I'd rather Chryst just come out and say something like this:
The goal is clear - we want to win the Big East. Anything short might not mean we've failed as a football team, but it would be a disappointment. A big disappointment. We don't play on Saturdays to compete, we play to win. And if we don't win, we didn't do our job. Not as players, not as coaches.
Chryst is correct in saying those things are the result of focusing on what you can control. But in the end, coaches (fairly or unfairly) are judged on how their teams perform. The results are what we as fans care about because that's really what matters when it comes to evaluating how teams have performed.