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September 17, 2014

Paul Chryst

COACH CHRYST:  Certainly appreciated the guys going down.  We got off to a slow start last week, but were able to come away with a win.  Good to be back at Heinz Field, obviously playing a very good Iowa team.
We'll be challenged in a lot of ways.  I think it's another opportunity to grow as a team.

Q.  About the slow start.  I wasn't able to watch the game, but it looked like you got yourself in a big hole and dominated the game after that.  Is that a fair reading of what happened?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah.  We had two fumbles inside the five going in.  We tried throwing backed up, gave up a safety.
Obviously FIU did some good things, but we shot ourselves in the foot.  It's all about the game, and part of the game is protecting the ball, and we didn't finish those drives.  I think it's a different game.  You come out of it, you've got to learn those lessons.
No one wanted to not protect on the safety and no one wanted to fumble the ball.  It's not that.  Guys were ready to go.  We just made some critical mistakes.

Q.  What challenges does Iowa's defense pose for you this week?
COACH CHRYST:  Obviously very good versus the run.  They've got a well‑designed scheme.  I think their players know it really well.  I think they've got good players.
There's kind of all the challenges.  I think they're physical.  I think they're very good in the back end.  I think our offense will be challenged in a big way.

Q.  Why are they pretty tough against the run, their defense?
COACH CHRYST:  Because it's a good scheme and they've got good players running it.  They tackle well.  Linebackers fit.  The front four is physical.  I think that's what makes them effective.

Q.  Paul, as somebody who used to coach in the Big Ten, a lot has been made in the last couple weeks about some of the struggles in the conference.  As you prepare for this week watching Iowa, do you have any thoughts on what has contributed to some of the struggles the Big Ten has had?
COACH CHRYST:  No.  Actually I've spent no time.  In fact, I'm kind of afraid of the Big Ten this week getting ready to play Iowa.
I think for me, it's the nice thing about the season and coaching, you just get to focus on your team.  I really do think it's a heck of a challenge that we've got versus Iowa this week.
That's kind of the furthest thing from my mind.

Q.  Your passing game.  Obviously James is running it so well, you're doing so well running the ball, you haven't had to rely on a passing game.  Do you want to try and see that get going a little bit to have a little bit more balance?
COACH CHRYST:  I think we're going to need to be more productive, more consistent in the passing game than what we've been.  Certainly appreciate and like the ability if you can run the ball this week.  We're going to be tested on it.  I think that's one of Iowa's strengths, their run defense.  No doubt we want to be better and I think have to be better at throwing the football.
It's not one of those things because you're struggling with it, you know, you always want to spend time and focus on all the aspects.  Certainly we're spending time on trying to get the run game better, and certainly the passing game as well.

Q.  Talk about playing Iowa.  I know you're from the Big Ten.  What is it like taking on a Big Ten school?
COACH CHRYST:  Always had a lot of respect for Coach Ferentz, the teams that he's had.  Then certainly spent a lot of time focusing on their defense.
Again, we had some battles with them.  It's a heck of a program.  This year they've got a lot of pieces that make it where I think we're going to be truly tested.
I think it's a great opportunity for our players.  I anticipate a different type of game than any we've had this year.  I think it's a heck of a team, well‑coached team, obviously good players.  Long‑term it's been a heck of a program.

Q.  What is your feeling with your team possibly being 4‑0?  Is that a good start for you guys, you being there two years?  Is it a good building block?
COACH CHRYST:  I know it sounds like coach speak, but I really believe it.  You just take each week for what it is.  It would be a good feeling knowing the only way to get there is by taking care of business this week, not trying to think more than that.
I don't know what it does.  In the season is not time to reflect.  Each week is a new week, a new challenge, a new opportunity.  That's really enough.  It's enough for our players.  It's enough for me on my plate.  That's really what you focus on.

Q.  I want to ask about Chad's running.  You talked about diversifying your offense.  He had a big running game against FIU.

Q.  Did that come out of zone read or was it scrambling?
COACH CHRYST:  He had a couple big hits on some designed runs for him.  One was just kind of a naked.  I'm trying to think.  I don't think he had any yards scrambling.

Q.  Is that a function of the fact you have such a dangerous back in James, and defenses have to stack against that, that it creates opportunities for Chad to run?
COACH CHRYST:  I think certainly Chad's last run was probably a result of that.  The other one, it was a designed run for the quarterback and guys executed it.

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