Good afternoon, folks. Before we get started with some Pitt football updates, I'd just like express my sympathies to everyone who knew and worked with Beano Cook. I never got a chance to meet him, but he was a college football — and Pitt, in particular — icon. He'll definitely be missed in the world of Pitt sports and college football in general.
Now, on to the football. Pitt coach Paul Chryst met with the media for one final time today before the Panthers' game against Louisville Saturday. Here are a couple of notes and quotes from the head coach...
- The three players who left the Syracuse game early — tight end Hubie Graham, linebacker Manny Williams and cornerback K'Waun Williams — all sounds questionable for Saturday's game. Chryst said he hoped to find out more today, but that all three would likely be game-time decisions. If they're unable to go, expect Drew Carswell and J.P. Holtz to split duties filling in for Graham, Nicholas Grigsby to go in for Manny and Cullen Christian to take K'Waun's space. I'll make sure to keep an eye on that Saturday to see who's playing and who's not.
- Chryst said he feels like Pitt has Rushel Shell's back issues under control "for now."
"At this point, yeah [we have it under control,]" Chryst said. "So hopefully it stays that way."
Back spasms can be tricky to deal with, so it's understandable that Chryst would be cautiously optimistic about Shell. He has practiced this week, and should be ready to go Saturday, so hopefully nothing new crops up during the course of the game that would cause him to miss more time. We saw to some extent Friday how valuable Shell is to Pitt's rushing attack.
- Sticking with Shell, Chryst said he was impressed by the freshman's maturity when talking about why he didn't play against the Orange. Shell said he was physically ready to go Friday night, but had missed to much practice time during the week that he wasn't mentally prepared for the game. He accepted full responsibility and recognized that if he can't practice, he won't be ready to play.
"I think he wants to be out there when the lights come on," Chryst said. "I think those are moments that he relishes so I think his whole approach all along has been good. I think he’s learning some things also. I’ve really enjoyed being around him."
- Chryst said he liked the way Todd Thomas has responded in practice after seeing his first playing time of the season against the Orange. I wrote about Thomas in today's P-G, and Chryst said he is continuing to get better coming out of the game.
"I think he’s continuing to get better and continuing to just play," Chryst said. "He missed a lot of football and so he needs to keep playing. The thing I like about Todd is every play he approaches it the right way and goes hard, plays hard, plays with a physicalness about him."
- If you missed my weekly Pitt football chat (Thursdays at noon), you can find a transcript here. A lot of topics, including injuries, expectations, some recruiting and scheduling talk.