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October 15, 2014

Paul Chryst

PAUL CHRYST:  We're certainly looking forward to tomorrow night.  We had the bye last week, so I know our‑‑ I think all of us here is anxious to play tomorrow night against a very good Virginia Tech team.

Q.  With the injuries that they've had at tailback, how do you prepare for players that I'm guessing you have less tape on since their top three guys are out?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, the basic thing you've got to do is prepare for what you see on tape certainly this year.  That's the only thing you can do.  Coach Beamer has done a great job there for a long time there and they're going to have good players, but I don't think they're going to‑‑ you've got to prepare for what you know and then be able to adjust to anything new.

Q.  What do you anticipate in terms of atmosphere and a crowd for this Thursday night game?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think it should be a great atmosphere.  Football in this city is a big deal, and Friday nights are kind of reserved for the high school games and Sundays for the Steelers, and normally we're on a Saturday, but football means a lot to this area, and anticipate it being a very good atmosphere.

Q.  I saw where James Conner said this week he had hoped to play defensive end in the game tomorrow.  Is that something that's going to happen?
PAUL CHRYST:  You know, we'll see if it happens.  Certainly like every week, he's worked at it, and just kind of depending on how the game plays out.

Q.  Looking at this game, you obviously had some time in between to prepare your team, get a little bit healthy and whatnot.  What can you say you took away the most from the bye week to help out the Panthers moving forward?
PAUL CHRYST:  You know, what we tried to do was take it as we practiced two days during the bye week, and we wanted to take it as two days to kind of clean up some things, kind of totally focus on Pitt, areas that we can get better at, and then Saturday we started our game preparation for Virginia Tech.

Q.  And then moving forward into this game, what can you say as far as leadership on your team, in the three phases, where is that leadership coming from?  Who have you tried to lean on a little bit as you moved forward this season?  Obviously you started out with three wins, three losses.  Who's been some of those leaders in the locker room for you?
PAUL CHRYST:  I mean, we've got a small group of seniors and a small group of juniors, and trying to lean on them as well as we've got a group of guys, might be their second year in the program but they've played a lot of football.  We're kind of trying to get it from everyone, and yet it's got to happen from within.  You've got to be careful of‑‑ certainly we want to address the last three weeks haven't gone like we had hoped.  There's reasons for it and things that are correctable that we've tried to address and we'll continue to address, but the leadership has to come from everyone in the program.  I think certainly your seniors, on defense Ray Vinopal is one of our captains, and he's done a great job trying to lead, but I think it's got to come from everyone.

Q.  What do you guys have to do to get ready for a Thursday night game?  What did you guys do to get ready for this game?
PAUL CHRYST:  Well, we kind of started our normal week on Saturday, and so kind of had all the normal preparation as far as days that we have.  You know, our kids are going to school like they normally would, and then tonight we'll go to the team hotel and treat it like it was‑‑ I think everyone in this building feels like today is Friday and tomorrow is Saturday.

Q.  So what do you see on film with Virginia Tech?  I know Frank Beamer's teams are always competitive every year.  What do you see on film?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think they're more than competitive.  I think they're a very good team.  Coach Beamer and his staff have done a great job, and what Frank has done there is pretty unique.  You truly respect him as a coach.  Getting to know him, you respect him as a person.  It's a good football team, and I think we're going to be tested in all three phases.  We've got to truly play a very good team game to have a chance to win.

Q.  I know it doesn't always play out the way it looks on paper, but on paper this looks to be an extraordinarily low‑scoring game.  You're both near the top of the league defensively.  You're near the bottom of the league offensively.  Approaching a game like that, do you coach it any differently early in the game, or do you wait and just see how it develops?
PAUL CHRYST:  No, I mean, I think that's a good question, and certainly there's a part of you that has to prepare for whatever type of game that comes, but when you watch specifically what you're talking about, when you watch our offense versus their defense, and I think it's a very good defense, you can't just approach it like every week, otherwise I think you can be setting yourself up for failure.
You've got to do some things that are within your‑‑ that you're able to do.  Our job as coaches is to give players the greatest chance to succeed and apply it versus the opponent.  You don't know how games play out, and you've got to be prepared to play whatever type of game and then maybe factor in weather.  All those different things you've got to factor in, but you also can't play the game before it, either.  You can't just say this is what it's going to be and not be able to adjust.
I think it's a bit of a balancing act.

Q.  I'm also interested, you might have one of the best match‑ups in the league with Boyd and Fuller.
PAUL CHRYST:  I do.  I do think quite a few times they'll be matched up, and I think you're right, it's two of the top players in the conference.  Much like football, the greatest team game ever, but it does come down a lot of times to one‑on‑one match‑ups and who gets the better of it, and maybe more importantly at the critical times.  So I would anticipate quite a few times that they would be going one‑on‑one.

Q.  Coach, have you had many Thursday night games on your campus before?  And what kind of an atmosphere would you be looking for there?
PAUL CHRYST:  You know, I believe it'll be‑‑ there have been some.  I want to say there's been eight, and I know people that talk about them, they've been very good atmospheres.  We're anticipating the same and certainly looking forward to it.

Q.  Do you do anything‑‑ well, of course you do things differently, but in the short week like that, what kind of adjustments do you make in your practice schedule?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, we were fortunate because we had the bye last week, so we were able to start‑‑ we kind of were able to back it up.  You take the game and you move it back to the start of your practices, so we were able to have a normal week of preparation.
Now, I've been involved with where you're playing in a Saturday game and playing on a Thursday, then you've got to adjust, but we were able to go, because of not playing last weekend, we were able to go with a regular practice schedule.

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