“Had a really good practice; got everybody back in. They had a couple days of break there after our open week. Feel like we’ve gotten everybody fresh and healthy as we’re going to get it at this point. Raring to go into this next game.”
Where do you think the team is mentally after the last game?
“I think they’re anxious to get back on the field and play, I really do. I think they’re disappointed with what happened and got all of that out of our system this past week. I think they’re anxious to get out on the field and play football.”
Have you had reopened the competition at deep snapper?
“We’ve got competition there, too. We didn’t have an issue until [the Miami game] and then we had an issue. Guy was in a funk, didn’t do well, but has bounced back well and had some good practices so we’ll see what happens.”
Is the starting kicker spot still up for grabs?
“It’s still up. Going to continue doing what we’re doing until Thursday and then we will make a decision.”
“We haven’t talked about pulling any redshirts at this point, so I think unless something drastic happens, we’re going to be okay.”
How much does it weigh on you that things get dicey beyond 35 yards at the kicker spot?
“It doesn’t really weigh on me until I get into the game. It’s not something that I really sit around and worry about. I really feel like we’ll put a guy out there and he’ll knock it in, I really do. At that position, you just need to have confidence; that’s all there is to it.”
Given the schedule the next two weeks, have you and the staff had any discussions about Duke?
“No. We’re not in that position, really. We’ve got to put all of our focus on Pitt. They’re a good football team. They’ve got the leading rusher in the country with the tailback, he’s a big 6-foot-2, 250-pound bruising guy that can go. They lead him with a 270-pound fullback. They are really big up front in the offensive line. Their quarterback is doing a nice job, I think he’s the second leading rusher on their team, and you’ve got the Boyd kid who makes all kinds of plays at wide receiver for them. So we’ve got our work cut out for us to get ready for this game. We haven’t looked on ahead, I assure you “
How significant has the challenge in preparing for the two best backs in the conference in recent weeks?
“It’s pretty significant. I don’t know if you can go into the game and say you’re going to stop the run. We have to control the run. We have to be effective, we have to force them into third downs, and then we have to get off the field on third down.”
How different is it going up against a running back like James Conner?
“It’s different. You have to come with a mentality of you’re going to match the physicality. If you don’t, you’re going to get embarrassed.”
What signs did you see in the bye week that the offense was getting back on track?
“I don’t know what signs… I would say more that the kids are hungry to get back out there. They know that they did not play well in that last one, and they don’t like the taste in their mouth because of it and I think they are anxious to get back out there and play football the way that they can.”
On Pitt’s defense:
“They are very well coached and very sound in everything that they do. They aren’t a fancy football team, they aren’t bringing blitzes from all over the place. They aren’t multiple fronts like some of the teams that we’ve played. They’re going to get in their base fronts and they are going to play football. They’re going to be very sound, they’re going to tackle well, they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be in coverage and their run fits, and they’re going to make you beat them. We have to execute on offense to be able to do that. We have to get back to playing football the way we play it.”
Do you have to dig deep at this point in the season?
“Not really. You only get so many opportunities to play this game. You work all year. it’s a full-time 365-day [opportunity] to go to work to get 12 opportunities. You’re playing at home, and you’re running out of time. We’re down to about 10 practices left in this season and so many opportunities to go out there and do the thing you love. So you prepare as hard as you can and you go out and play with great pride, and you play to go out there and win a football game.”
What’s your feeling on your depth at tailback?
“It’s not what we had. T.J Logan and Khris Francis and [Charles] Brunson have been preparing. Last year we got into a situation where we worked Damien Washington at some reps back there and we’ve done the same thing and his recall is really good, so he can do some things back there for us, also.”
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