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November 6, 2013

Paul Chryst

PAUL CHRYST:  Good morning, and certainly we're excited for Saturday night's game, and looking forward to it.  Last couple weeks haven't found a way to make enough plays to win games, but I like the way the guys have responded and their approach so far this week, and certainly looking forward to having a good Notre Dame team come here to Pittsburgh and welcome the opportunity and that challenge.

Q.  Having played Notre Dame last year, does that create any‑‑ you played them so tough when they had a great team that went to the championship game.  Does that provide any kind of a boost for this team getting them on your home field and playing them again?
PAUL CHRYST:  Yeah, you know, I think that I really do certainly feel like we're both very different teams.  You know, I think that‑‑ but I think that all‑‑ I think some of our guys might be the ones didn't play last year might be referring to the Florida State game, and the guys that played last year, I think you refer to all their experiences.  And certainly last year was part of those experiences, but I think if a guy that's played a lot of games and guys have played in last year's game are those that have played in a lot of games, I think you take‑‑ you draw on all your experiences.  So I don't think it's just, you go just back to that game, and yet I think there is‑‑ if you've gone up and played against a guy and know the challenges he presents and if you had some success, I think you draw on all your experiences.  But I don't think there's any carryover one way or the other last year's game to this year, big picture.

Q.  You guys have played five ACC games already.  Do you feel like an ACC‑‑ has the newness worn off?  Do you feel like an ACC team now all the way?
PAUL CHRYST:  No, I don't think all the way.  We've just played that, so I don't think until you go through it and probably might not even feel it, some of the kids, until you're playing them again and saying, okay, I remember this, and you're watching more‑‑ I think one of the things that makes it come to life is you're even preparing for teams and you're watching and you start to say the same teams over and over and you get a feel for it.  I think that's when you really truly feel like you're part of‑‑ where the newness wears off.  I think right now it's still the opponents‑‑ I think it's different this year preparing for Notre Dame with some of our kids like I was saying because some of those guys are on that film and we've played them, and some of the other guys have no idea.  Tyler Boyd hadn't been in on some of the preparation for Georgia Tech, for instance, last week and what we have coming up with North Carolina and Miami, played Syracuse last year, that'll feel a little bit different.

Q.  I'm just trying to get a feel for is this game almost a quasi ACC game in the sense that you're now in the ACC and they're kind of halfway in the league, not so much for football but they're going to be playing a lot of ACC teams in the future in football?  Is this almost Notre Dame's introduction to the ACC?
PAUL CHRYST:  It doesn't feel like it to me.  But I'd probably be the wrong guy to ask.  You just get so locked into this week.  This is what we're doing, and so I hadn't really thought much about that.

Q.  I know you've talked a lot about Aaron Donald and his development this year.  Just curious, how much do you think it's benefitted him to have the same position coach here the last couple of seasons?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think that it always helps.  I think Inoke has done a good job, and yet I have a feeling Aaron was going to be‑‑ the way he's wired, I think there's truth to the continuity and yet I think he's just kind of wired that way, that he is going to‑‑ he's an ultra‑competitive, obviously talented but he's competitive and loves the game and plays.
But I do think that they certainly have a good relationship, and I think just not having to deal with all the other things that surround changes is probably helpful to all our kids, or at least I would hope so.  But he has been playing at a great level, and you feel bad saying this ‑ I do feel bad and I don't ‑ but we need to lean on him and he's got to continue to play that way for us to have chances in these games.  But he's been fun to watch, and I know Inoke has certainly been good for him, and he's been good for Inoke.

Q.  Do you think given his play this year that more people across the country know who he is or do you still feel like he might be a little bit under the radar?
PAUL CHRYST:  You know, I don't think it's fair to say that he's under the radar.  I know he's gotten some‑‑ he's on the national lists, he's been recognized.  You know, I don't really know outside of‑‑ I don't know what's really being talked about or if he is or isn't, and certainly, and rightfully so, our team, a lot of these‑‑ at the end of the year a lot of awards come to guys that are on winning teams, and we're in the process of trying to win more games.
But I think that the thing that I appreciate, I think he was on the preseason halfway‑‑ not the preseason but the halfway mid‑season All‑American team, so he's getting recognized there by certainly a number of people, and I love the fact that he's earning it with what he's doing on the field.
I don't know; you might have a better feel nationally where he's at, but it seems to me that he certainly is being recognized, and rightfully so.

Q.  Do you get a sense that your running game is getting healthier, improving, hopefully with Adam and maybe Cory coming back this weekend and James Conner missed a couple games there?  Do you think he might be able to get things together with the running game this week because of that?
PAUL CHRYST:  I'm hopeful, but you can't say that from what we've done recently.  We haven't been real good running the football.  You know, we're certainly working on it, and there are different reasons that have contributed to it.  But we need to‑‑ hopefully we can get that squared away because we're a better team if we can do a better job of running the football.
But you can't say we're working on it and you hope to be getting more production out of the work you're putting into it, but until we do it and do it consistently, it's hard to say anything other than it's not where it needs to be.

Q.  What's your focus with the running game this week to get some more production?
PAUL CHRYST:  Well, I think you got to just make sure what you're doing fits the schemes of Notre Dame and make sure your guys understand it completely, and then it's‑‑ you've got to practice that and make sure we're good, and then we've got to go out and execute it.  There's not a lot of magic to it, and it's not a real exciting answer maybe, but I do think that's the bulk of it.  Your kids have to understand what you're doing, know it.  I think our guys have confidence in it, but we're not consistently producing in the running game, so we've got to‑‑ everyone has got to kind of take ownership of the things they can control, and that's what we're working on, but then you've got to go out and apply it and do it in the game.

Q.  What concerns you the most when you look at the Notre Dame team on film?
PAUL CHRYST:  Well, I think they've got a very good scheme.  I think it's well‑designed, and I think they're doing it with some really good players that know and understand that scheme, so they're not out of place, doesn't look like they're guessing or trying to figure it out, so I think you've got good players that are well‑coached playing in a good scheme.

Q.  How has your offensive line done facing the pass rush, and what's your approach when you go up against somebody like Stephon Tuitt?
PAUL CHRYST:  I think we've been an inconsistent group up front, and certainly have a lot of respect really for their whole defense.  I think there's a lot of good players.  I think they play fast.  They're powerful.  It's a challenge and an opportunity.  I think you've always got to be careful when you just single out one or two guys because in the past my history has been it's the third guy that beats you.  So we think they've got a lot of good football players, certainly on their defense and in their front, very good, and it's a challenge.  We've got to get guys geared up for it, try to study and get a feel for them as much as you can on tape this year, and then we've got to have ways that when guys are‑‑ that guys aren't stuck on an island, and then we can go play the game. 

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