I took a break from last week's press conference but didn't want to miss pass up another opportunity to over-analyze what Pitt's head football coach is thinking. So with that, here are the top ten quotes from Paul Chryst's weekly presser after the disappointing North Carolina game.
10. (On James Conner): "He ran really hard and it was fun to see. I thought he gave us some energy."
Agree on Conner. He's had his ups and downs this year, but was definitely a bright spot against North Carolina. I'm still not sure he can be an elite back, but I'll tell you what - he just goes at it so hard sometimes and just has the ability to run over people.
9. "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"
That's one thing we tend to forget, I think. Pitt is playing a lot of young guys a lot of minutes and all of the reps they're getting now should really help to prepare them for next year and also 2015 when I think Pitt could compete for the Division.
8. "It’s a big game for both us and Syracuse."
Absolutely. We've tended to focus on Pitt needing the game to become bowl eligible, but the same holds true for Syracuse. The Orange face Boston College in their final game while the Panthers will get Miami, so Syracuse's outlook isn't as grim if they can't win on Saturday. Still, a big, big game for both teams.
7. "With all of the other guys that missed last week, we’ll see. Scott [Orndoff] is probably one that is furthest away."
6. "I don’t know [if Orndoff is done for the season]….I think he’s a long shot to play this week."
Tough break for Orndoff. Pitt should be fine without him with Manasseh Garner and J.P. Holtz still leading the way at tight end, but Orndoff was one of those freshmen who was picking up valuable experience. He got nearly a full season in, but I'm sure it's rough for him to potentially miss the rest of the year.
5. "I know [Adam] Bisnowaty is fighting through it"
4. "With Bisnowaty it’s been a long-term thing."
3. "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 want to suggest that all of Bisnowaty's struggles can be tied to his back injury. That said, it's safe to say he's not been 100% and that's likely at least part of the reason for some of his struggles this year. Don't worry too much about Biz at this point - he was a highly-touted recruit and playing his first year as a starter. Like Dorian Johnson, you can bet that he'll improve.
2. (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."
Yeah, I made this point in the post-game recap, but the way that Pitt started that game really came back to bite them. They had to settle for a field goal on the first drive and fumbled deep in North Carolina territory on the second. Instead of a 10-0 or 14-0 lead, Pitt settled for only a 3-0 advantage. It goes without saying, but when you get down to the 10- and 12-yard line respectively, you've got to come away with more than three points there.
1. (On special teams): “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.”
Ah, yes - the question you knew would be asked. Chryst was asked to give a clear answer as to who coaches the special teams and he responded with about as cryptic an answer as you could give. Based on what Chryst said, numerous people are in charge of special teams but he refused to name any of them. The answer was, of course, nothing short of ridiculous and it's clear that there's no primary coach there. Chryst said he was in charge of it as a whole, but then again, he's in charge of every unit as a whole.
Bottom line folks - as badly as Pitt needs a full-time special teams coach, there doesn't appear to be one.