Pitt head coach Paul Chryst spoke with reporters today, his first interaction with the media since his Monday news conference. The big news this week has been injuries to some starters, including RB Ray Graham and CB K’Waun Williams, but Chryst had a pre-emptive strike before any of us could ask about them.
“Every week there will be guys health-wise that we don’t know about,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. That’s this week and it will be every week. There are guys on the staff trying to figure it out. I won’t comment on that and probably won’t during the year. If something happens, if a guy is going to have surgery, I’ll let you guys know. I’m trying to avoid playing any games. We have a group of guys who are day to day, and there’s a group of those that I’m kind of excited that they’re day to day. We got a chance here.”
So unless the players are more forthcoming about their injuries, the general public won’t know much about them. Chryst was asked to explain his decision not to discuss injuries.
“I’m not going to tell you something I don’t know for sure,” he said. “I don’t need to share things other people don’t need to know. A lot of it is I really don’t know. You spend a lot of time talking about things you don’t know [about]. At times, that seems like a waste of time. Really, I think it’s because I don’t know. If I do know, it’s great. I can give an answer.”
Chryst said he does not have any rules in place for players in terms of their practice time when they are dealing with injuries.
“I think our policy is, is the guy prepared to go out and play? Is the guy in good shape? I don’t have a hard and fast rule. I remember growing up as a player, if you didn’t practice Wednesday and Thursday you weren’t going to play in the game. I don’t have that policy. Is it right for the player? Is it right for the team? You make the best decisions you can with that information.”
The other hot topic was the game-day operation for Saturday. Chryst will be coaching his first game as a head coach and his two coordinators – Joe Rudolph and Dave Huxtable – will be coaching their first games as coordinators.
“Have we talked it? Practiced it? Addressed it? Absolutely,” Chryst said. “Do I feel confident? Very much so. Have we done it? No.
“I have not been a head coach on the sidelines in a game that mattered. I feel confident. We’re excited about it, but we’ll see.”
For the second consecutive day a member of the staff was extremely vague when asked about the play-calling duties on offense. Rudolph seemed to indicate Wednesday that Chryst would be calling the plays when he said: “I imagine [Chryst] will jump in there and get rolling. I think we’re taking an approach where guys have areas of responsibility and we’re going to have a good plan going in and have a good idea from a preparation standpoint of what we’re calling in what situations.”
When asked about the play-calling operation today, Chryst had an opportunity to clear things up, but he did not.
“We’re all going through a pool of if it’s a good play, who gets to claim it,” he joked. “If not, I’ll take that one. In practice, it’s been a collective deal. I’m actually looking forward to it.”
For the record, this will be the first game for Chryst on the sidelines since his days as an assistant in the World League of American Football in 1992. He has been in the press box for the past two decades, the previous seven as offensive coordinator at the University of Wisconsin.