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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 25, 2014


Paul Chryst


PAUL CHRYST:¬† Surely looking forward to going down to Miami and playing what I think is a very talented and well‑coached football team.

Q.  Obviously, with your team, this game has crucial importance.  You need it to get to a Bowl game.  You beat Syracuse this week and have an opportunity to do it.  Just what you've talked about with your team and the growth they've had over the season and if you've used anything specific going into the game as motivation.
PAUL CHRYST:  I think the game itself, especially playing Miami, it's motivation enough.  Every game's important.  Every game's crucial.  At the end of the year, if you win enough games to earn the right for another game, you're very appreciative of it.  Obviously, our players know and truly want to earn that right.
All that matters this week is having great preparation each day so that you can go down and play the best game you can play against Miami.  And then it's like every game.  You want to go win every game, but you've got to go do it.  Same thing, we want to go to a Bowl, but you've got to go do it.
I think the focus, our energy, our emphasis is on preparing so that we can play the best game and like to play the best game of the year.

Q.  And as far as the history of rivalries, obviously, Syracuse and Pitt and then also Pitt and Miami over time, just what that's meant and how important these games are.  No matter what happens at the end of the game, to know that these rivalry games that were rich in history are back in the ACC, and obviously with Syracuse and Pitt joining within the last couple of years here, that you have those opportunities to play those games.
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, I love the‑‑ I think the history and the rivalries that pertain to each school, I think it's a great part of college football.¬† And not just‑‑ certainly for the fans and those who love all that, but I think for the players and knowing the teams that you're going to play every year.
For us and a lot of the players currently, Syracuse is one they've always been playing.¬† So I think there is‑‑ it's got a different feel to it, and I thought last week had that.¬† Certainly, last year we finished up playing Miami, and right now that's kind of how the schedule's going to be.
Those are big, and I love anything you can carry over.¬† It's harder now with conference realignments and maintaining rivalry games.¬† I think the best way to make them rivalry games is to where both teams‑‑ you got to win games to truly make it a rival.¬† So I love that part of college football, and I certainly appreciate and look forward to playing Miami as well as last week playing Syracuse.¬† It was good for our players, our team, our fans.

Q.  Paul, do you feel like the way Pitt rebounded last week was something they needed, particularly going into this matchup against Miami on Saturday?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† Yeah, it was certainly good.¬† We did a lot of good things defensively.¬† Each week's so different, presents different challenges.¬† I think that our guys‑‑ I like how they put it out there, and I think they did some really good things that we've got to build on and carry forward, certainly.¬† But each week's a different preparation, different team, and, again, that's kind of the beauty of the game is you've got to do it.
So I think we need‑‑ obviously defensively, offensively, special teams‑‑ we need all three units to be good Saturday.

Q.  When do you think you'll know whether James Conner can play?
PAUL CHRYST:  He did some stuff yesterday in practice, and all the guys will get a feel for it certainly through the course of the week.

Q.  Hey, Coach, I'm wondering if you could talk about the challenge that Conner or any other running back for that matter, the challenge that they would face going against Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, who was named a Butkus Award finalist yesterday.
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, and he earned that, and he's a heck of a football player.  I knew that, obviously, seeing him last year and then following him through this season.  He's a heck of a player, and I think he's got a lot of good players around him.
That's going to be the challenge.  I think they're a very good defense and do quite well against the run.  So I think that's going to be one of the story lines.  If we can do anything on the ground against them, they will certainly be tested.  I know that, and I think he's a heck of a football player and worthy of any awards or nominations that he gets.

Q.¬† One other quick follow‑up weather question.¬† I don't know if you've talked about it this week, but right now I'm looking at my car, and it's 84 degrees.¬† I'm not sure what it is there‑‑
PAUL CHRYST:  It's not 84.

Q.  What kind of difference could that make?  Or how does it affect the game?  Does it?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, you've got to deal with it.  Certainly, it's going to be different weather than what we're practicing and what we played in last week.  So we've got to certainly deal with it best we can.  We're not going to be able to simulate Miami's weather up here.  For that matter, we're not going to be able to simulate Duke Johnson's speed, and Perryman, we don't have a scout team linebacker like him.  All those things, that's part of the game.  We've got to do all we can to prepare ourselves for it properly, and then you go down, and you got to deal with it.

Q.  What's your sense with your run defense as you go into this game playing against Duke Johnson?
PAUL CHRYST:  Certainly we're going to be tested this week.  I think the way the season's fallen, and even when we're preparing for other teams, we've seen Miami and their offense on film, and he's an extremely talented running back, and yet I think that it's not just him.  The line's playing well.  I think that they've got a lot of weapons.  So we've got to do a great job of defending it.  We've got to do a great job of getting players to the football certainly, and you've got to be careful of overcompensating because they've got quite a few weapons that, if you start devoting too much to the run, they can hurt you in other ways.
But it's going to be a challenge for our defense.  I think our defense is certainly aware of it and excited to play against such a talented back.  We've got to rise to the occasion.

Q.¬† You guys were 4‑0 early in the year, and you guys were doing really well.¬† What's been the biggest problem with you guys since starting that 4‑0 start?
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I think suddenly you've got‑‑ every game comes down to certain plays, and if you make those plays, you win the game.¬† If you don't, it make it harder to win it.¬† So each game is that.¬† You either find ways to make enough plays to win or you didn't.¬† It's not an easy game necessarily, but it's not a complicated game.

Q.  I know a lot of people talk about Duke Johnson as the running back from Miami.  What about Brad Kaaya, the quarterback?  He's a true freshman, but he seems like he's been there four or five years the way he's been playing this year.
PAUL CHRYST:¬† I've been impressed.¬† I was saying earlier we've had a chance to see them on film quite a bit this year, and I've been impressed with the way that he plays.¬† He's certainly talented, and you can see the‑‑ kind of the confidence‑‑ or I'm projecting this, but he seems to be more confident and kind of playing the game and looks comfortable.
I think that's what makes them such a good offense is they've got a heck of a running back and a heck of running game, and yet the quarterback, the tight end's a really good player.  They've obviously got some really good receivers.  Johnson does a nice job coming out of the backfield.
You can't just‑‑ they make you have to defend every part of the field, and they're more than just one‑‑ than just a running game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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