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April 24, 2014

After all the spring practices are in the books. As the long 3 month stretch of nothing but conference and NCAA rules debates, police blotters, recruiting and mindless predictions as the only news in college football stare us in the face, the ACC tosses us one last nugget. A conference call with the coaches to talk about spring practices.

You can listen to the nearly 2 1/2 hours of coaches talking vaguely about spring practices here. Coach Paul Chryst is on at roughly 2 hours into it.

Coach Chryst was asked about Tom Savage’s rise in the draft boards.

“You never know what to expect so if you said you’re surprised or not surprised you’d be wrong,” Chryst said. “He certainly has a lot of the talents and physical attributes. The biggest thing Tom hasn’t done is just play a lot of football.”

Savage transferred twice before ending up at Pitt, which Chryst said limited his visibility to NFL teams. Once they got a chance to look at the tape, they apparently liked what they saw.

“I think a lot of the buzz that comes before he wasn’t as much a part of because he hadn’t played for two years,” Chryst said. “I think what he did in the season, the combine, individual workouts, it’s been great to see. Hopefully everyone is right and his stock is rising.”

In Chryst’s seven-year tenure as Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator, the Badgers had 27 players drafted into the NFL. In two years as Pitt’s coach, he has yet to have a player taken. That will change this year, with Savage, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Devin Street each likely to hear their names called.

“I think for the program, it’s good,” Chryst said. “But most important you’re happy for those individuals. That’s what really makes it special.”

Or, dare we say, “neat.”

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January 8, 2014

Morning, everyone. The deep freeze may be coming to an end but a third day of no school for the kids further disrupts life.

Amidst the hoopla for the last BCS Championship game, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) released their Freshman All-American Team.

Tyler Boyd made the squad, so one more accolade for him and this Pitt squad.

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January 6, 2014

In theory, there might be a reason to tell a commit that if he is making the commitment, then he should not still be taking recruiting trips to other schools. This despite the fact that a verbal commitment is non-binding. One of those reasons might be a promise by the coach of the program not to recruit any more players at the same position.  A show of good faith by both sides.

But when you are  a program getting ready to leap from the Big East to the Big Ten. When you are a coach that has seen strained relations with your local recruits and some of the coaches in the area. You might want to be a little more flexible.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is not that kind of flexible. It has cost him a few de-commits this year with his belief that recruits need to shut down visits even as he keeps recruiting others. Back in November, that cost him Adonis Jennings.

Pitt was the source of the rift then, as Jennings took an unofficial visit to Pitt for the Notre Dame-Pitt game. Pitt was the final beneficiary last night.

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December 30, 2013

Wanting To Be Positive

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:03 am

Ending the season with a win in a bowl game — regardless of the level of the bowl — provides a certain level of positive energy. Heck, just finishing with a big win even without a bowl helps (13-9 being the ultimate proof).

Next season may be 9 months away. Training camp, 8 months from now. Spring practices aren’t until March. Signing day is about six weeks out.

But right now, it is a good feeling. Finishing the year 7-6 feels a lot better than 6-7. A 3-5 record in the ACC has more positives than a 3-4 record from the final year of the Big East. They aren’t huge steps forward, but there is some sense that there is improvement.

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November 19, 2013

You can have the best facilities. A world-class training staff. Everything you need or could possibly want. And injuries will still happen. Just ask Florida this year. Or just go back to the 2011 season.

Pitt had a couple early bye weeks in the first half of the season and has now played six straight games. It can’t be terribly surprising that injuries are starting to happen with what seems increasing frequency.

Cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard were the latest to join that group this week, as Pitt has suffered through a rash of injuries over the past few weeks, costing them a number of starters and key contributors.

In addition to the two cornerbacks, starting left guard Cory King (hamstring) and left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (back) also missed a 34-27 loss Saturday against North Carolina. Backup tight end Scott Orndoff has missed the past two games and appeared on the field for warm-ups Saturday with a sizable brace on his left leg. Defensive end Ejuan Price has missed the past four games with a back injury.

Add in (hopefully) a minor ankle to Devin Street and knee injury to Tom Savage and everyone begins to wonder.

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November 15, 2013

Light Football Thoughts

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:45 am

Sorry. Not a lot of time today, so I kind of have to keep it shallow.

Paul Chryst gets effusive about UNC’s tight end, Eric Ebron.

“You love watching him on tape, and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Shoot, we’ve got to play him,’” Chryst said. “He’s good, and I love a good tight end.”

That would have 12-year-old me 16-year-old me 22-year-old me Oh, hell it still has me snickering.

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November 11, 2013

Dancing Paul Chryst

Filed under: Chryst,General Stupidity — Justin @ 9:03 pm

This is apparently what Paul Chryst’s victory dance looks like. Post to twitter with the hashtag #ChrystDance. Enjoy the .gif after the jump.

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August 26, 2013

Coach Paul Chryst has the press conference for Pitt-FSU today. It’s at noon and being streamed live. I may be watching and commenting. [Editor Note: Correction, it appears to be a premium feature so no live watching unless it's being aired on ROOT.]

Okay, the game notes for Pitt-FSU are out (PDF). On page three you can find the first 2-deep.

I’m not going to try and reprint the whole thing, because fixing the formatting would take too long.

So let’s just hit the surprises/highlights/etc.

Artie Rowell is listed as the starting Center. There is no OR. Considering Roberts still struggled in training camp with the snap exchange, this can’t be a total shocker.

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August 15, 2013

Thomas’ Return: Media Review

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Players — Chas @ 11:31 am

Okay, the news came out of Todd Thomas officially returning to Pitt football. Justin and I were both out and not able to do a real post at the time. Now, with 24 hours to digest, it’s time to review.

Starting by looking back since there is controversy over the whole thing. It started with Thomas being “demoted” to second unit on the first day of practice. An admitted motivational tactic taken by Coach Paul Chryst. Clearly unhappy with it, Thomas nonetheless said all the right things about needing it and using it.

Then came the news that he left the team abruptly.

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August 8, 2013

Todd Thomas Hates Me

Filed under: Chryst,Football,Players,Scandal — Justin @ 6:00 pm

I joked yesterday in the comments section of the thread about Thomas quitting that Thomas must hate me because the news came out right after I posted my column on the offensive line. Well, lo and behold right as I put the finishing touches on the column below, it’s announced he’s coming back.

The column still has some use so I edited it just to go over the players who have left since the spring and why. Sure, the Thomas situation spurred it, but it’s still good to look at all of it. I obviously know that it’s purely coincidence, but it’s fun to joke about. We Pitt fans need to laugh a little at times.

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July 26, 2013

Chryst for the Weekend

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 3:30 pm

One last thing on Friday.

A pretty good interview with Paul Chryst on the David Glenn Show (down in ACC country). About 7 minutes long. Chryst comes off less, um, taciturn.

On the other hand, there is this Tumblr that amuses… well, me.

Enjoy the weekend.

July 23, 2013

I won’t kid you. Chryst didn’t exactly reveal much. If you watched his public appearances, he is still maintaining that the QB position is still wide open and that both Savage and Voytik will get equal opportunities. He said that in the spring as well, but it was readily apparent who was getting most of the first team snaps. During smaller interviews there was still nothing. He was quoted as saying: “I’m pretty comfortable with anyone between 5’9″ and 6’6″”

On the ESPNU interview he was asked about the Rushel Shell departure and then the attempt to return to the program late. To no one’s surprise Chryst completely avoided answering that question. About the most he said is that people make decisions and everyone needs to move on.

During his ACC presser, as Chryst drained the energy from the reporters the moderator tried to keep it going for the allotted 15 minutes by asking him to talk about the running back depth chart. His exact words were, “talk about what’s left.” There’s your motivation, Isaac Bennett. You are what’s left.

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July 22, 2013

The Pitt football beat writers all swear that Coach Paul Chryst is a nice, engaging guy. Very smart. That he has a dry, wry sense of humor. And that he is friendly enough individually. They also acknowledge that he absolutely does not show any of that in press conferences.

And man, did that show up in his ACC and then ESPNU interviews.

At 2pm the ACC streamed his press conference, after which Chryst moved to the ESPN truck for his interview on ESPNU.

Paul Chryst's ESPNU interview 7/22

Paul Chryst’s ESPNU interview 7/22

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June 4, 2013

Among the roughly 70 programs in the 5.5 major conferences only a handful of programs have just two recruits: Nebraska, Colorado and West Virginia. At one solitary recruit: Oregon State, UCLA, Indiana and Pitt.

Yes, Pitt is in the mix for many key players. In their top-3, -4, -5, -8. So far that hasn’t done much good. Pitt struck out twice over the weekend with two important targets. They weren’t 5-star elite talent, but they were good players in areas of need from Pennsylvania. They were players that it had at least appeared Pitt had placed something of a priority on securing their commitments.

Is there reason to panic? Absolutely not. There’s an entire summer. There are the camps. Most of Pitt’s biggest targets have not made a choice. Not to mention, unlike last year, Pitt can’t give out 25+ scholarships. There are only 18 seniors on this roster. This is not going to be a particularly high volume class.

But is there reasons to be concerned? Oh, hell yes.

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April 9, 2013

I suggested to my wife that for our anniversary, we take off work early, pull the kids from school and take a romantic drive to Bethel Park for the Pitt Spring Game. That went about as well as you would expect. It did, however, make her more amenable to me watching the livefeed on ESPN3 at 7 pm.

The big thing is that Spring Practices are nearly done, and it feels like not a lot has been learned. Yes, there was the drama of Rushel Shell deciding to transfer, but that was more distraction. Not on-the-field, except to give Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett a lot more first team snaps.

Pitt ran its practices almost entirely under cover of the NCAA Tournament. For Paul Chryst that may not have been the plan, but it was definitely a perk.

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