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November 12, 2014

Larry Fedora

LARRY FEDORA:  Our team is very anxious to get back out on the field and play a football game.  We get to play a game against a very good Pitt team, a team that is a very physical team, a team that prides themself on that.  We are looking forward to getting them in our home stadium.

Q.  Just what you've been able to take away from the last game that you had.  Obviously, you've had that break in between, but what you took from that Miami game and what you tried to instill in the bye week that maybe could help you through some of those elements that added to that loss in the game.
LARRY FEDORA:  There were not a lot of good things coming out of that Miami game actually.  So the things that we took out of it were the things that we needed to change and what we need to do better.  So going into the bye week, we spent a lot of time on the things that we felt like we needed to improve on, and there were a lot of areas.
So we were really back to the basics and worked a lot of guys.  At the same time trying to get some of the guys that had the majority of the reps in the season, we tried to get them a little bit of rest, to be fresh during these last three games.
So I think our guys are anxious to get back out on the football field and prove that we're a better team than what we showed last time we were out.

Q.  What are some of those areas to you?  You know, when you go back and you look at everything, like I said, you took out of Miami that you had to fix a lot of things.  When you look at Marquise and what he's been able to do at quarterback, what elements of his game did you maybe have to work on, or in your mind, is he one of those confident parts that you didn't really have to tweak that much?  How does he kind of go into this bye week and come out of this bye week, in your mind?
LARRY FEDORA:  Actually, with 'Quise, he was a guy we tried to get rest in the bye week.  He got reps, but some minimal reps because we were trying to get him healed up and make sure he was healthy and fresh and ready to go.  I think he has a very firm understanding of what we're trying to do, and I don't think that his play has been necessarily an issue with the way we've played here in the last few weeks.

Q.  Larry, does the fact that you guys had to try to defend Duke Johnson two weeks ago help in any way, shape, or form of preparing for James Conner, or are they different enough backs to make the defense different?
LARRY FEDORA:¬† I'll tell you, they're both great backs.¬† You can put them‑‑ you can talk about them in the same breath, but they're very different in their styles of running.¬† The Conner kid is‑‑ he's 6'2", 250 pounds.¬† I mean, he is a big, physical, mash you runner.¬† He's going to wear you down.¬† I think he has over 50, 55, something, more carries than the next running back in the league.¬† So they're going to ride him.
But we're still‑‑ you're going to have to get multiple hats to him to get him down.¬† If you get into him with a one‑on‑one battle for tackles, eventually, he's going to win those battles.

Q.  Does the extra week to prepare help, or is it more of a rest kind of situation?
LARRY FEDORA:  No, I think it helps.  I mean, we're able to get extra reps.  We're able to make guys feel more confident about what we're doing with the game plan, but we're also able to get them more rest at that time at the same time.

Q.  Good morning, Larry.  I'm interested in the season Ryan Switzer is having as a punt returner.  I notice he doesn't have the big plays like he had last year, but he still has a lot of returns.  Are teams kicking to him differently than they were last year?
LARRY FEDORA:  You know, that's interesting.  I think early on they did in the season.  I haven't noticed it as much of late, and Ryan really tried to make too much happen, especially early in the season.  That kind of got him behind the eight ball in a lot of situations.  So I think he's becoming much more patient, just taking advantage now of the ones that are there that you should and not trying to do too much.

Q.  He does a lot of different things well for you.  Even threw a pass this year.  He threw one last year.  What kind of athlete did you see of him in high school?  Getting him out of West Virginia must have been a pretty tough thing to do because people there were pretty proud of Ryan.
LARRY FEDORA:  Sure, he's a tremendous athlete.  He played running back, which was actually his natural position.  They were able to get the ball in his hands in a lot of different ways.  We didn't know the extent of his athleticism until he got here, and we started teaching him the slot receiver stuff and all the different things that he could do.
He was very comfortable catching punts, which is a very difficult thing to do, and then he told me last week he could kick field goals, if we needed that.  He's done that before.

Q.  Are you going to let him kick field goals?
LARRY FEDORA:  I doubt that.

Q.  To follow up on the question about Pitt's running game earlier, what is your assessment about your run defense going into this test?
LARRY FEDORA:  Well, we haven't done a very good job against the run.  At times during the season, there's been times that we've been very good, and then we'll miss a gap or miss a tackle and give up a big play.  So the thing that we've got to do is just be consistent throughout the game and understand that they're going to pick up some yardage in the running game.  That's what they do.  The guys are very good at it.
I don't think you're going to go into this game saying we're going to shut down the run because nobody's done it to them this year.  So we're going to have to get a lot of people to the ball.  We're going to have to run hard to the ball.  We're going to have to tackle well, and we're going to have to be very resilient the way we play.

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