After a big win against Virginia Tech, the mood was sure to be a little lighter for Paul Chryst's weekly media pow wow. Chryst talked about the big win and looked ahead to this week's opponent, Gardner-Webb. Below are his top ten quotes as I see them as well as my usual hodgepodge of thoughts. (Quotes provided by Pitt's athletics department)
10. "Still appreciative and feel good about the win Saturday. A lot of the same things that I felt after the game, I still feel."
Chryst opened with this and really, I thought it was a refreshing change of pace to what you hear from other coaches. A lot of times, guys get up there and talk about how they've already moved on from the win, etc. But Chryst is being honest here and while coaches may have an inherent clock that forces them forward always looking ahead to the next game, there's no way that Chryst could have already moved on from this. It wasn't only his first win, but the team's first win of the season and after the way things had gone, I've got to believe he'll be thinking about it for a while.
9. "The names aren’t necessarily any different than what we thought, but you only know for real with what happens in a game. As the course of the season goes and guys get dinged up you’re going to need more and that’s when guys have to rise to the occasion and I think there were some that did."
This was in response to talking about the team battling through some injuries. If you think about it, Pitt's not been all that healthy. They're still missing Todd Thomas, projected as a starter. They missed K'Waun Williams early on. Devin Street and Mike Shanahan were both injured during camp. Ray Graham's still fighting through his recovery a bit. And as he said in the press conference, guys like Aaron Donald and Bryan Murphy have been dinged up as well. 1-2 at this point isn't real good, but the injuries have meant there's been some instability on the team - more than has probably been mentioned to this point. And speaking of Thomas ...
8. On the progress of Todd Thomas: "We still feel good and I think he does. It’s going to be hopefully this week the same as what we talked about last week — that each day he’ll do a little bit more. When it’s going to be, I don’t know. You can’t put a timetable on it."
Getting Thomas back will certainly help. But one thing I'm a bit concerned about is that linebacker has to be a difficult position to come back in and immediately know what you're doing. You've got to play both the pass and the run and while Thomas showed some good things last year, he's been out for quite a while. He'll help, but it might not be immediately.
7. "Hopefully we grew, but we’ll find out if it was real or a one-game thing."
Ah, yes - the million-dollar question. Chryst responded to a question about the turnovers, but this quote really applies to the Panthers' play as a whole. Was Pitt's win a fluke? I have a hard time believing as such since they played a full 60 minutes. Even when Virginia Tech pulled to within 11 and was seizing the momentum, Pitt didn't panic and just continued what they'd been doing all day - beating the crap out of the Hokies. I don't know if Pitt's as good as they played on Saturday, but we'll find out through the course of the season.
6. On how the offensive line is improving: "The seniors and Ryan (Turnley) and ‘Lumpy’ (Chris Jacobson) are taking ownership of it. I think they’re enjoying the work, the way they prepare. "
Lulz. Seriously, just lulz. I didn't see Matt Rotheram called out by name after he racked up three or four penalties, but you've got to love how Chryst avoids the issue. Will be interesting to see how he rebounds this week, but Pitt really just has so few options on the line that even if he adds another penalty or two to his piggybank, he might not be replaced.
5. On responding to the loss at Cincinnati game with a win against Virginia Tech: "I think you’ve got to build on everything you do positively. It wasn’t all of the sudden a whole different group."
Man, it looked like a whole different group, though, didn't it? I responded to someone on Twitter by saying Pitt traded places with the '85 Bears. Seriously, I've got no idea what was done or said at practice this week, but just as we've killed the coaching staff for the first two games, they deserve some kudos here, obviously.
4. On Tino Sunseri playing through injury: "I thought he did a lot of good things and he’s no different than what we talked about with the others, where the exciting thing is he can still get better."
Okay, Chryst has to say things like this, so I've got no beef with him. But realistically, can Sunseri really get better than what he showed on Saturday? That was about as good a performance from him as he's ever had and while there's still a lot of season left, I'd be surprised if we saw a great improvement from this weekend. But guess what? That's perfectly fine. If Tino wants to keep giving up 70% completion rates, 280 passing yards, and three touchdowns, who are we to complain?
3. On preventing a let down against Gardner-Webb: "One thing is that you approach it like we have every week and we will continue to approach it as long as I’m here every week. The focus is on you and your team and how you can get better and you have to respect the game. That’s a pretty short memory if you haven’t learned those lessons with this group this year."
Love that last sentence, obviously alluding to the Youngstown State game. Simply put, there should be no possibility of a letdown. If Pitt gets up 30-3, I don't even want to see them take their foot off the pedal. Pitt's first game showed they can't afford to take anyone lightly.
2. On the game plan for the running backs as the season continues :"We’ll see how it unfolds. I thought all the backs did some good things. Obviously, Isaac (Bennett) didn’t get as many snaps as he’s had in previous games but it’s not indicative of anything he’s been doing or not doing...With the limited snaps Isaac played I thought he did good things. How it plays each week I do not know and never have when I’ve been in those situations."
I'm not going to go too far with the whole Bennett thing since I've already covered it in my SB Nation Pittsburgh article this morning. But I continue to be amazed how quickly he's fallen after practically being lauded as the next best thing this spring.
1. On what he did with his game ball he received from the players: "I gave it to Ox (equipment manager Tim Enright). It meant a lot obviously because it came from the players and yet really everyone was a part of it. I understand the significance of it and the story but there are a lot of people that did a lot more than I did in that game."
This is, in a word, awesome. Chryst had his first win and could have easily put this ball on his mantle or something. Heck, it's what I would have done and I'm guessing you would have , too. Instead, it goes right back to the university and shows that Chryst, 'gets it.' Well done, coach.