Meet The Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Bowl press conferences don't usually hold many revelations. Neither did the one with Ole Miss and Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

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The usual "feel good" of the situation came through. Most teams, with a few exceptions, are always happy to be bowling.

We hear questions from one media group that never sees the other team play. Then it turns to the other group that asks questions of the unfamiliar team.

We in the press corps answer some questions about Pitt for their media, and they ask us about Ole Miss.

Perhaps the most important pieces of information Friday were concerning personnel. Obviously those are important to the game itself.

Pitt had suspended its starting right guard earlier. First-year head coach Paul Chryst finally announced a starter.

"Zenel Demhasaj will start at right guard," he said of the 6-foot-7, 325-pound junior.

It had been a question some wanted answered, and so we got that.

Then came one later in the Ole Miss session concerning Bo Wallace's shoulder.

"I think it's ready to go," he said, among other comments about it. "It's as good as it's been all season."

One thing I've picked up on in two days here. Both of these teams want to win badly. Both have first-year head coaches. Both want to build on a 7-6 season and have momentum going into 2013 – post Jan. 5, 2013, that is.

"It's been a good bowl preparation for us, and it needed to be. We're playing a very good Ole Miss team," Chryst said. "I like the work that our guys have done and how they've gone about their business. We're certainly looking forward to playing tomorrow."

Pitt WR Mike Shanahan
Bruce Newman

The Panthers said they have to be ready for the Rebels' style of play.

"That's one thing they like to do and that's change it throughout the game," said senior offensive lineman, center Ryan Turnley, a 6-6, 320-pounder. "They show different types of tempo. For our sake on defense, we just have to get lined up and make sure everybody's on the same page and communicate out there."

Pitt players were asked how could they be motivated to play for a third straight year in Birmingham.

"There's something about playing this game of football," senior defensive back Jarred Holley said. "Our guys are real motivated and ready to go."

Turnley agreed.

"You never know what's going to be your last football game," he said. "We get 60 more minutes. We don't need any more motivations than that."

Chryst didn't want to talk much about the future. He was asked what this game, a win Saturday, would mean as he builds a program.

But he said something interesting as his answer.

"If it was about what it did for next year, we'd have juniors and sophomores in here (to talk to the media)," he said. "But this is our last game with this group, this team. It's all about that."

Game time is just about here. At noon Saturday in what Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze called "the old gray lady" - Legion Field - it will be.

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