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November 5, 2014

Paul Chryst

PAUL CHRYST:  Certainly disappointed in the last couple of results, but definitely not discouraged from the group.  We've just got to take advantage of this bye week and get ourselves ready for a chance to finish up the last three games and finish the season the right way.

Q.  Specific areas that you want to look at in the bye week.  I know obviously getting healthy and all those things are going to be there.  Are there any areas, especially coming off that two overtime loss that you really want to key in on?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think that, yeah, we just went through it again.  Last time we had a bye, you want to go through individuals, each position coach look at each individual, pick out one thing that they can kind of‑‑ we have two practices today and tomorrow left this week, what can we work on.
Certainly as coaches kind of look at some of the things that cause us problems offensively.  We certainly did a better job last week than the week before, but taking care of the football, we'll continue to focus on that and defensively get back to some of the fundamentals that I think you've got to have.  It's tackling, and it's kind of trying to minimize some of the big plays we've been giving up.

Q.  And then as far as James Conner and all the great things that he's been able to do for your team in the rushing attack, not only that but being an Erie, Pennsylvania recruit, what can you say about his play for you and also what he means to northeast recruiting?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think certainly he probably had his best game in the last week, appreciate the way he goes about kind of the weekly preparation and the energy that he puts into it each week and each game.  And certainly, once you get with these guys, you don't care where they're from, they're your guys, but it is special, I think, for Erie and western Pennsylvania.  They're certainly proud of their guys, and that part's been good.
But James is like the whole group.  He's doing some really good things, and there's some things that he can continue to work on.  That's what I love about him is he wants to be as good as he can be.  Looking forward to this week with him as much as all our other guys, but certainly like what he's done.  We've just got to‑‑ he's having a good year.  We've got to continue to work to finish a special year for him.

Q.  Another James Conner question for you.  Just curious, when there are videos out on him, there's Heisman promotions, discussions, things of that nature, how does he handle all those things?  Is he the guy that likes that attention?  Do you have to worry about him getting a big head or anything like that?  How does he handle all the hoopla that's come with his play this year?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think he's proud of it.  He's certainly proud of what he's been doing.  I love him.  He's not a selfish guy by any means and doesn't think that‑‑ certainly, when you're with him, it's not like it's all about him or something.
I think that, like a lot of guys that go through it, they learn to handle it, and they learn to go through it because it's new.  At some point, it was new for him, and now I think you go through that part of the experience, your experiences on the field and your experiences off the field, but I love the way that he has handled it and will continue to grow in how he approaches it, but I don't ever want him to lose the excitement or the pride in doing it.
I mean, it's not just for him.  It's his family, it's our program, it's fans.  I love the guy.  I love the way that he's handled it, and he'll continue to grow throughout it.

Q.  Obviously, Conner wouldn't be getting all the national attention and what have you without his offensive line doing a lot of things right, to wit, T.J. Clemmings was honored by the conference just recently.  On the whole, how do you feel about the development of that unit so far, and how would you measure it up against back in August where you hoped that group would be at this point of the season?
PAUL CHRYST:  You're exactly right about‑‑ and James would be the first to admit.  It's not just‑‑ certainly the O‑line is a big part of it, but it's something that the whole offense takes pride in‑‑ the tight ends, fullbacks, receivers.  And I think our line, in many different areas, has grown.
We need to keep‑‑ we've got some guys that are young.  We've got one guy in Matt Rotheram that's played a lot of football, and T.J., albeit a senior, this is his second year of playing offense ever.  And I think they are doing some things‑‑ certainly some areas where we need to get better and continue to improve, but I thought that it was hard on us when we lost Artie Rowell, our center, a guy that started every game last year.  And Alex Officer continues to improve.  He's young but continues to improve.  Our left side has got a lot of youth in it, and so I've liked it.
I think it's‑‑ you don't quite know what to expect, but I think what you're referring to in fall camp, there's nothing that they're doing that we say they're not capable of.  So you hope you get in there, and we just got to keep working, keep improving because we've got the bye week this week, but we've got three tough games to finish up with and try to earn the right to play a fourth.

Q.  Good morning, Paul.  If you don't mind, I'd like to rehash an old story.  When you're setting up for a field goal, isn't it best to try to keep that ball as close to the center between the uprights as you can?  And running to the right, in my feeble mind, it kind of confused me a little bit.
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, I think you're right.  If you were to say one spot to kick a field goal, you'd say you'd like it in the middle.  And then at that point, there was 22 seconds left, and we still had a time‑out.
We were still trying to see if we could score and felt like that was the best way for us to score with that personnel group on.  If you sub personnel groups, then the defense has a chance to sub.  If they can hold it, then you lose more time on the clock.
We were still trying to see if we could win it there without having to kick the field goal, knowing that if you run it into the short side, you could also step out of bounds.  Then if we go out of bounds there, you've got anywhere from 10 to 8 seconds.  Then the clock is stopped.  You can use‑‑ you can sub personnel because you don't care if they sub it.  You can center the ball, use your time‑out, and you still have a comfortable amount of time to kick it.
So that was the thought process.  Obviously, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to turn out.  As you know, that game wasn't won or lost on that one play.  Each unit had opportunities throughout the course of the game that could have made the difference.  But that was the thought process.  When it doesn't work, obviously, you're susceptible to be second guessed, and I get it, and so be it, but that was the reasoning why. 

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