After a week and a half of teeth-gnashing over the season-opening 41-13 loss to Florida State, it's finally time for Pitt to move on to its next opponent, the Lobos of New Mexico. Panthers coach Paul Chryst met with the media this morning to discuss any lingering issues from the Florida State game, as well as preview the matchup against New Mexico.
- Most importantly, Chryst said no new injuries have cropped up between the Florida State game and now. The only player who didn't dress against the Seminoles was reserve linebacker Emanuel Rackard, and it sounds like Pitt will be at full-strength Saturday as well.
- As he had before, Chryst noted that he liked the way his team bounced back from the Florida State loss.
"Everyone owned that game," he said. "If you do that, then you have a chance to move forward and get better. We have specific things that each guy needs to work on. That's our job: to help the players be the best they can be and help them grow. We've got a great group of guys. They want to be coached, and we want to coach them. I like this group."
- A lot of players saw their first action against Florida State. The Panthers played 11 true freshmen, but it was also the debut for several redshirt freshmen and even older players like quarterback Tom Savage and tight end Manasseh Garner. Now, all those guys have a game of tape to go off of and have tasted live action for at least the first time in a while.
"I think it helps that [Tom] has a game under his belt now," Chryst said. "It's been awhile since he's gotten hit, made a throw on third-and-10 or managed the play clock. I think all those things help every guy. Manasseh [Garner] hadn't played in a year. We've got redshirt freshmen who didn't play in games last year. There are a lot of guys who getting those snaps under their belts helps. Now they need to get better."
- New Mexico's option offense will provide some unique challenges, but a lot of the fundamentals that Pitt was lacking in the Florida State game carry over to this week's matchup as well.
"There are some specifics to New Mexico's offense," Chryst said. "Any time you face an option, you have to stay true to your responsibilities. And there are some things that carry over from the first game. We've got to tackle better. I think we've got to challenge their receivers. We've got to be able to finish with some of our pressures. We've got to make sure we're assignment-sound. Players need to trust that the guy next to them is going to do his job so that they don't have to overextend and can do their job. If everyone does their job, then we'll be in good shape."
- The Lobos have played two quarterbacks this season, though neither has presented much of a threat through the air. Sophomore Cole Gautsche played most of their season-opening loss to UTSA (4/12, 65 yds, 1 TD; 118 yds rushing), but junior Clayton Mitchem was the guy in their win over UTEP this weekend (4/7, 88 yds; 51 yds, 2 TDs rushing). Chryst said he isn't preparing any differently for one quarterback versus the other.
"Right now I think we have to prepare for their offense first and then fit the quarterbacks into it, not the other way around," Chryst said. "I don't see a huge difference in them. Obviously there are some, but not yet in our approach. As the week goes on and our guys get comfortable with them, then you can start to bring some things to the table, but not today."