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September 10, 2014

Paul Chryst

PAUL CHRYST:  Obviously it was good for us to be able to go on the road and get our first win in conference play.  Looking forward to going down to Miami and playing FIU.

Q.  Talk about your trip going down to Miami and what you think about Florida International, what you see on film.
PAUL CHRYST:  Certainly I think as far as their offense, I've been impressed.  They've got the ability to hurt you throwing the ball and running.  I think the running back is a good player.  They've got enough guys in the throw game that we've got to really be sound, and the quarterback can hurt you.  Known Ron (Turner) for a long time, and he's a good football coach.
Defensively got to handle their athleticism and their movement in the front seven, and then in the back end being able to win the match‑ups.
Special teams, you can see their athleticism, so we've got to be on to give ourselves a chance.

Q.  Talk about playing on national TV the last couple weeks.  Was it good for your program to get that exposure?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I mean, yeah, all that is a benefit, but I think what you appreciate most is for our players right now.  Not all their families can come, and for them to be able to see it.  One thing I think that's one of the great things about Pitt is the players that have been here before and for them to be able to see our team.  Those are all good things.

Q.¬† Just curious with James, he had, I think, 36 carries last week.¬† Is he a guy you envision getting 30‑plus carries a week, or do you want to spread that out a little bit more moving forward?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I think he can handle it.  A lot of times if backs are getting high numbers of carries, they're earning that, and you're doing some stuff well that you keep coming back to him.  Absolutely, the number itself I like.  Any time you can run the football I think it's good for your team, and I'm sure there will be games where we're going to need more guys to contribute, and there's games where you get James or another back that can carry the ball for a bit.

Q.¬† A lot of teams are moving away from the workhorse back who has 30‑plus carries.¬† What is it about James that allows him to be able to be a workhorse back and carry that type of load for you guys?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think that he's kind of built for it.  He's a big back, so obviously will take hits, but knock on wood, handles that.  I think that he's one that he truly loves playing and competing, and I think that that's all part of it.  And also I do feel good that we've got some other guys, too, that can also be effective running the ball.

Q.¬† I wanted to ask one follow‑up on Conner.¬† Are his defensive days behind him, or is he still in the picture maybe as a defensive end?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, no, we haven't changed anything.  Certainly he had a pretty good workload on Friday night, and kind of the way the game was going we didn't use him on defense, but he's still practicing it, and I think there's no doubt in my mind there will be games where he'll be doing both.

Q.¬† The other thing I wanted to ask was about your quarterback, Chad Voytik.¬† Obviously first‑year guy.¬† Can you talk about what you saw improvement from the first to second week?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, you know, I think he certainly was tested differently week two than week one.¬† Week one was a pretty comfortable game for him, weren't in a lot of situations that he had to do some things.¬† I thought he did some good things, and much like our whole team, there's some things that we've got to clean up, and Chad and the rest of the team is aware of those areas.¬† But I thought he‑‑ any time‑‑ it's the first start for him on the road, and he had some adversity early with a pick and how did he respond from that, and had a good two‑minute drive.¬† So those are all good situations that he's got to go through, and did some good things that you can build on, and certainly there's things that we address and clean up and areas where he can get better.
I thought two very different types of games, and I think probably the whole season will be like that, that there will be different things, and that's where experience is really invaluable, and the only way to get it is by going through it, and so that's kind of the stage that he's at right now, I think.

Q.  They're saying a forecasted high down here on Saturday of about 88 with the humidity pushing the heat index to about 100.  It's always hotter it seems like on that turf at FIU.  Other than telling your kids to hydrate, what can you do to get ready for that?
PAUL CHRYST:  You know, we're getting some heat here, but you're not going to simulate that.  It's like when you go play on the road and you pump in crowd noise.  It's not the same, right.  We've got to deal with it.  You know, there's enough things that you can try to do to give yourself a little better chance, but at the end of the day, we've got to deal with it, and it's going to be something that it's what it's going to be, and we've got to embrace it.

Q. ¬†And as an unrelated follow‑up, everybody recruits South Florida, of course, but when you get opportunities to come down here, just how important is that to kind of put the product kind of on live display with these kids down here?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† You know, I think it is.¬† Any time you play in an area that you are recruiting and want to recruit, it's important.¬† It's also important, we've got a lot of ex‑players that will be coming to the game that are living there now, and you feel a responsibility to them.
And nowadays, everything, recruiting is more national.  Every opportunity that you put yourself out there, it's big.  I think that's kind of part of college football right now.

Q.  Is your team better than expected in any certain areas that maybe you weren't too sure of going into the season that now you have a pretty good answer on?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† You know, no, I think it's my personality‑‑ I've liked and appreciated the way guys are.¬† Definitely don't feel like we've arrived.¬† We're just starting to define who we are, and every game is an opportunity to keep building on that.¬† But I think that some of the areas we've done, you've got to do it again, and you've got to do it repeatedly for it to be who you really are.¬† With the group, a couple things new, we're going to be young, and we had to grow, and each game we've got to grow.¬† We've got to, I think, take bigger strides than maybe some of those teams that are older and more veteran.
But I think there are some things that we're doing well that we've got to build on for it to become our identity, and there's some things that we've obviously got to clean up for us to have a chance this season.

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