Been a couple of weeks, but we're back with Todd Graham's top ten quotes from the weekly press conference after the West Virginia game as the team gears up to play Syracuse on Saturday. Graham didn't have a particularly interesting top ten this week, but it is what it is.
10. Our punter Matt Yoklic has done an amazing job and has continued to get better every week.
In case you missed it, Yoklic punted ten (yes, really ... ten) times against West Virginia. I can't make this stuff up.
9. It really hurt us losing Zach Brown and Ronald Jones. It also really hurt us losing Isaac Bennett for those two or three series he was unable to play. He had a little virus and he was dehydrated so he was cramping up. Those injuries really hurt us in the second half.
Regardless of what you think of the job Graham's done this season, one thing can't be denied: He's been killed by injuries and that makes it tough to evaluate the job he's done.
8. When I think and reflect back on my time here I am very proud of what we have done so far.
If by proud, he means the relationships he's created with players, that's fine. But no one, including Graham, can possibly be proud of what the team's done on the field. This year has been a total failure in terms of actual football.
7. Mark has been pushed to get more and more reps and he is a guy who definitely has a future. He is a guy who can compete, but he has not been in the position to have a complete understanding of what we’re doing to give us a chance to win. We will evaluate him throughout the week to see how he is developing and see what happens."
I really have a hard time believing Myers has a future in this program. Not only hasn't he been able to earn the backup job, but Pitt has Chad Voytik, one of the nation's top quarterback recruits coming in next season. I've said it repeatedly, but the fact that Myers didn't get a look during this season when the quarterback play has been so mediocre (and downright bad at times), is astounding.
6. What really hurt us in the end was not executing and taking the sacks late in the game.
Seriously, how did Tino take that many sacks? That's all.
5. "No. We didn’t play very well down the stretch and at the quarterback position and that is part of the execution, but Tino is still the guy that gives us the best chance at winning…we just need to get better.
And here's the thing - as bad as Tino has been at times this season, he's our only hope right now for Pitt to get to a bowl.
4. Those extra practices are something you can’t put a price tag on in how important they are for the future of this program and moreover for the seniors and this football team.
I generally like to sweep this kind of stuff under the rug a bit unless you've got a really young team, but this is particularly true in Pitt's case this season. The offense clearly didn't go as well as planned and Pitt definitely needs more practice learning the system.
3. "It would be huge for this team. We have lost a lot of close football games and these guys have played really well. If you look at the Notre Dame game, the Iowa game, the Cincinnati game and West Virginia, we are not far off.
I really have a hard time trying to decide just how close Pitt is. With those close losses (Pitt lost four games by 11 total points), I really do think the team probably isn't quite as bad as their 5-6 record. They also played a tough non-conference schedule, and while I'm not making excuses for this team, I think they will be one of the better 6-6 teams out there if they manage to win against Syracuse. And make no mistake - if they lose, it will be a complete failure on every level.
2. We are very hopeful about Ronald Jones as always. Hopefully he will be able to practice by Wednesday and be able to play. I didn’t realize in the game how many things he did until he was no longer there. That is something we are very hopeful that we can get him back.
Jones really has given the offense a spark at times this year. He's perfect for the gadget plays that Pitt occasionally likes to run and while he's not the best offensive player on the team, he does play an integral role. It would definitely be a blow if he's not ready to go this week.
1. On the nine sacks in Pitt’s final 25 plays:
"We held the ball. Our offense is about throwing the ball on timing and they were rushing three guys. West Virginia was not blitzing and they were rushing three guys.
That's, in a word, pitiful. Seriously, Tino - throw the ball.