Pitt coach Paul Chryst met with the media today for his final pre-New Mexico game briefing. Here are the relevant notes...
- As with the Florida State game, Pitt enters the game against the Lobos without any truly significant injuries. Chryst said defensive back Brandon Felder won't dress, as he has sat out practice all week with a foot injury, but that's the only new one. Reserve linebacker Emanuel Rackard, who missed the Florida State game, is back and active in practice.
Running back James Conner estimated earlier this week that he was "60-70 percent" healthy for the Florida State game, but with two weeks to improve, that only figures to have gone up.
"You'd have to ask him," Chryst said. "I like the way he's practiced and all that, but I wouldn't get into the percentage game."
- A lot of talk this week has centered around New Mexico's unique option offense. Of course, Pitt will play two more option teams down the road later this season in Navy and Georgia Tech. Even though they're all run-based option offenses, no two are exactly alike. Still, this game could give Pitt a little preview of what it's in store for down the road from the Midshipmen and Yellow Jackets.
Chryst downplayed that idea today, though, and said we wouldn't really know until the end of the season if this little tune up against the Lobos served them well for their future games against Navy and Georgia Tech.
"It certainly presents problems and some challenges," Chryst said. "It's different than what I think we'll see later on in the year, but some of the principles, I think there'll be some carryover."
- I wrote earlier this week about Pitt needing to get more carries for its running backs against New Mexico, and Chryst talked a little bit more about that today. Basically, Chryst said that with only nine carries apiece for Isaac Bennett and James Conner, it was tough to judge the performance of the running game as a whole.
"You can't really analyze it too much," he said. "I had the feeling of, 'Boy, you wish everyone had more.' You get to see them going, sustain some drives, see them get in a little rhythm. That's always going to be the challenge, when you've got more than one back, getting them in a rhythm and yet feeling like you've got more than one that needs to be playing at the time for whatever reason.
"I don't know if I can answer that accurately because I never felt like there was a rhythmic deal, and that's what you want is a rhythm."
He added that there wasn't necessarily a hard and fast plan going into the game of how many snaps or series each guy would get, just that you sort of go by what each guy was feeling.
- Today's P-G story was about Pitt's linebackers and their responsibilities against New Mexico's option offense. I asked Chryst whose responsibility it was to call out assignments on a given play, whether it was on the coaches, middle linebacker Shane Gordon or if players just had to know beforehand.
"You've got rules, and truthfully, you need more than one guy communicating it," he said. "Certainly, your linebackers and safeties would have the bulk of it. Even within the line, we have to make sure we're set the right way. You really do have to have everyone communicating."
- A team spokesman confirmed that walk-on kicker Brad Lukasak has decided to leave the team to pursue his academics. Lukasak was listed as a backup to freshman Chris Blewitt heading into the season.
- If you missed it earlier today, here's a link to the recap from my weekly Pitt football chat (every Thursday at noon).
That's all for today, I'll have a New Mexico preview post up tomorrow, plus make sure to read the P-G and follow me on Twitter @SWernerPG. Just two more days until we get another actual football game.