Paul Chryst had his regular session with the media, so let's take a look at his top ten quotes from Monday's presser:
10. (On the Georgia Tech loss) "There are points in every game that you have to make a play and if you make that play your team has a better chance. We made some of those to keep us in it, but we didn’t make enough."
Yeah, that's kind of what I took away from it. It was frustrating that Pitt couldn't get over the hump, but even though Georgia Tech did their share to give the game away, Pitt never reached up and took it. The backbreaker was, of course, the 3rd and long conversion late in the game, but there were other plays that Pitt just gave up as well.
9. (On how he balances playing young guys with older guys) "Everything you do has to be what’s best for this team. There’s not one guy that’s playing – old or young – that’s not giving us the best chance to win immediately."
That's really one of the exciting things about this team. Chryst is playing the younger guys and while they're taking their lumps this season, it should pay off in a year or two when these guys have a lot of experience. There's no guarantee that the younger guys playing now won't be beaten out later, but there's at least something to look forward to for the future with a lot of these guys.
8. (On the struggles of the rushing attack) “Any time you struggle running the ball, you’re on edges a little bit."
The running game has been a colossal disappointment this season, but the more I've thought about it, the more it was to be expected, really. Neither Isaac Bennett or James Conner were highly-touted guys and you've got to remember, Pitt lost their top two running backs from last season. Behind a weak offensive line and with one true freshman back there, the running game has been an absolute joke.
7. (On why every Pitt-Notre Dame game seems to be close) “I can only speak about one, so I’d defer to Aaron..."
I didn't throw this in here so much for the quote, but because I thought it was worth commenting on the question. You can chalk it up to a lot of potential reasons, but Pitt just always plays Notre Dame close. They're a respectable 2-3 against the Irish in their past five games and even though they haven't won any of the last three, they've been in every one. If nothing else, I expect a close game on Saturday.
6. (On K’Waun Williams’ arm injury) “He said he’s feeling better yesterday. He got bruised, but I think he’ll be alright.”
I didn't even realize K'Waun got hurt in the last game. Simply put, Pitt needs to get him back. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees is having a good season and putting up some big passing numbers. The Irish running game is pretty much as bad as Pitt's is right now so you can bet Notre Dame wants to air it out. To lose a starting cornerback would be borderline disastrous.
5. (On if he and the team have gotten over last year’s triple-overtime loss to Notre Dame) “Yeah. You think about everything you do in the past and use it, but I’m over that one. And I don’t know what the players think. A lot of them didn’t play."
Solid point by Chryst here. Sure, many of the players on the team were on the roster for last year's game, but there are a lot of newcomers, too. Tom Savage, the starting quarterback was on the team, but redshirting. Key guys like Tyler Boyd and James Conner on offense weren't here. All of the other freshmen that have suited up this season weren't playing.
The other thing is that while I'm sure it will be in the back of their heads, for the guys that were here, I'm not sure it will factor in once the game kicks off. It's a whole new game and Pitt can't get any measure of revenge for what happened last year by winning this season - completely different team.
4. (On Dorian Johnson) “Dorian [Johnson] was able to start. He did some good, exciting things that he can build on, and he struggled at times against a good player in pass protection."
3. “We think he’s a good player and he’s only going to get better. Last Monday, [Adam] Bisnowaty and Juantez [Hollins] were out of practice, so we put Dorian at that tackle. We felt comfortable with it because he got a week of preparation."
Starting with that second quote first, it looks like Hollins didn't get in over Dorian because he was banged up, too. But yeah, there were snaps when he looked good and others when he looked horrid - pretty much what you'd expect from a true freshman playing the most important spot on the offensive line. This goes back to what I said earlier in that there are some bumps along the road with younger guys, but DJ should be better next year because of the time he's getting this year.
2. (On if Adam Bisnowaty and Cory King will return to the starting lineup this week) “Biz took a couple snaps in the game, and we’re hoping we’re over the hump with where he’s at. As we go through the week and get him some volume Tuesday and Wednesday, then we’ll make that assessment."
1. "Cory did some things last week and got through the confidence factor as much as anything. I would anticipate him doing more this week.”
Safe to say, Pitt will stand a much better chance of pulling off the upset if the offensive line gets healthy. You never know about coaches and these sorts of things, but it sounds as if Bisnowaty should play while the idea of him starting is up in the air. King sounds like a game-time call as well. If Pitt gets those two guys back, I'll feel a lot better about Saturday's game.