Quote Sheet: Week Two

Like DVD extras, some of the quotes from players and coaches that didn't make it in to any of our updates this past week.

LB, Greg Williams
Were you surprised at starting against Buffalo?
"The coaches moved me to start me off the game Saturday. I missed a week of practice; out for an injury. I came in on Wednesday, the week of the game, and got some reps in. I guess I impressed them. A lot of the things I was doing right, and moving fast."

Do you feel good about your performance?
"I believe so. I got a lot of snaps that game. I was surprised. I was surprised when they came up to me and told me I was starting off the game. I'm guessing because I might have been a veteran, and they were impressed with me more but I'm not sure. Nothing is different between me and Todd (Thomas). I still have to work hard, and he still has to work hard. If he would have started, or if I would have started, we're both going to keep pushing each other to work harder every day."

Anything you would like to improve on?
"Just technique-wise, you just have to relax and just play the techniques the coaches taught us. Everybody is starting to get all over the place. Everyone just needs to start relaxing more and just doing what the coaches taught us."

Is the defense adjusting to the new system>
"Everybody is starting to get more comfortable. It took us awhile because of the whole new system. Everybody started getting more comfortable against Buffalo and actually running against another team. We had some mistakes here or there, but we've seen that we can be a great defense once we do all the techniques that all the coaches have taught us."

The injury you suffered in camp set you back, and kept you from starting before?
"It set me back going into the game. I missed the week of preparations for Buffalo. I really only had one day of full-speed at practice. It set me back and I felt myself playing a little bit slow. They said I would be ready. I'm very excited to be back and practicing with the guys."

When did you feel yourself at 100 percent?
"Probably after camp. I was banged up for awhile, and I kept trying to practice banged up. I just made it worse for myself."

How did you get injured initially?
"During blitz period, I got hit in the side of the head a little bit. I kept practicing, telling the trainers and stuff. I was out for a week, but I'm back 100 percent and ready to go right now."

How did Greg Williams get the start (against Buffalo)?
"Every day is a new day. He just kept progressing as the week went on. He had a really good practice on Thursday. We sat down as a staff and decided that was what's best for our football team. I think it showed up on Saturday. He had a great practice Thursday and Friday. Sometimes, you just go with your gut feeling. We had a good feeling about where he was."

How did you feel about the defense's performance?
"If you look at it, the first eight possessions, they never even challenged us. I think sometimes you lose your mental focus and you let your guard down a little bit. All of a sudden, they make a play and what happens is you have people trying to operate outside the framework of the defense. If you look at it, penalties kept three of those drives alive. We let them compete on a third-and-10 on time that kept a drive alive. Then, all of a sudden you have a penalty on a play that gains fifteen yards, then you have a personal foul penalty. That's a 26-yard gain. They're in scoring position. We had eight possessions. We played 13 of them. Eight of them were really, really good. Then, we just kind of relaxed."

How do you feel about Brandon Lindsey's performance?
"We tweaked some things this week that are going to help him out that much more. It was good. The only time we had to evaluate Brandon has been through fall camp. Now that we got him out there and got him in a game-like situation, it helps our evaluation of what he can and cannot do. We made some things up, some adjustments, that are going to fit his abilities."

Did you blitz more or less than what you wanted to?
"Probably a little bit more than we wanted to. Probably a little bit frustrated with the quick gain. They kept dinking and dunking it in there. We've got a target we want to hit, a definitive target on how much we want to pressure. Zone pressure was just about right. Probably too much man pressure. I think sometimes you have to go with the flow of the game, and that's how it went. We were able to get off the field."

Did that make a difference in your coverage?
"It does. They really only had about six opportunities to drop back, and then they were smart. They had a plan they weren't going to let us impact the quarterback as much as we would like. When you're playing zone coverage, and on those early downs, you have to play tight and tackle them for no gain. After the ball is caught. Again, I felt very good with where we were at for the first time. 93 plays in that first game. I felt very good about our players."

Some of the freshmen you didn't get to play…are you hoping to play them this week?
"We will. We're trying to bring them along slowly. You don't want to put someone on the field until you know that they're comfortable in their own skin. You have to be able to know when that time is. We'll keep bringing those guys along slowly. We had a position change with Lafayette. Even though he shows signs of practice, we don't want to put him out there and set him up for failure. LaQuentin Smith is another young man who gets better and better every day. He had a great practice today. I feel very good about where he is, and eventually you'll see those guys on the field."

How much did the film help this week?
"I think the big thing coming out of that video was finish. We started great, and as the game went on, it felt like we lost our focus. We didn't finish, and that was a big emphasis today. We're talking about finishing every play; finish the game. If we do that, we're going to continue to get better every week. I feel really good about their attitude. The best thing is you have people like Myles and Brandon Lindsey coming up after the game. They're telling you, ‘hey coach, we made some mistakes.' We gave up a few more yards than what we wanted to, but overall, we felt very good about their effort and the way they played."


What did you see out of your group after the first game?
"The first game, we had some fundamental breakdowns and some technique things. I thought the kids played hard. They were on the right people. I thought they stayed in the ball game, regardless of going in at halftime up 7-3. They came out the same way; really responded well after halftime. We made some adjustments and some things. I was very pleased with the way they played; getting on the right people and their effort and those things were really good."

What kind of things would you correct?
"I thought at times they did some things that we need to correct, and some things like that. I was pleased with the way we run-blocked, the way we came off the ball. I think there's some things; a couple times, they got some pressure on Tino and he had to leave the pocket. We gave up a sack. I thought that first game; Gibbs coming back and playing (at right tackle), we put in (Greg) Gaskins and I thought he did a nice job. (Juantez) Hollins, his first time playing in the game. Those things; the lights get a little bit brighter and the crowd gets a little bit louder, those kinds of things. I thought all and all it was a good game to build from. I thought those two guys really responded. We have to get bette and clean up some technique things, but for the first game I thought I was pleased with where we are."

"As far as the offensive line, it's a game of repetitions and just getting out there and getting back in it today. I thought it was really good, and I was really impressed with the way the kids responded today. Playing offensive line is a creature of habit. It's repetition, it's technique, it's steps, it's using your hands and those kinds of things. Sometimes in the heat of battle, the thing to do is to kind of lose those things. I think when we had a breakdown, that's what happened. It wasn't perfect. There were some flaws in some tackle sets, and those type of things."

Were you impressed with your two guards?
"I did. I was really pleased with those two guys. They played really hard. Chris Jacobson really had a fine game. I was really pleased with him. He plays like the kid he is. He's a really hard-nosed kid. He gives you everything he has. He did a nice job for us."

How is Juantez Hollins?
"I told him, ‘I'm going to be a little harder on you because you're a guy that hasn't played and has a lot of ability, and it was my job to get that out of you.' Our approach is, lets really coach them hard. It was his first game. There is a lot of understanding it was his first time (starting). The young man has a lot of talent. He is really a gifted athlete. He just needs reps and reps and reps and reps. I think that everything that he did, along with all the others—the one thing we got out of the film—can be corrected. It's all fundamentals and it's all techniques. It wasn't a scheme issue where we got beat, so that's a positive."

How do things progress from the first game to the second game?
"The first game, we had some fundamental breakdowns and some technique things. I thought the kids played hard. They were on the right people. I thought they stayed in the ball game, regardless of going in at halftime up 7-3. They came out the same way; really responded well after halftime. We made some adjustments and some things. I was very pleased with the way they played; getting on the right people and their effort and those things were really good."


How do feel after the first game?
"I definitely am just taking what he coaches me to do. I'm nowhere where I need to be, though. I have to go out there and get better every day and know what I have to work on. I graded out well, but every day I have to go out and do better. I'm not where I need to be."

How does Ray Graham compare to some of the other running backs you've blocked for?
"Ray is a shifty man back there. He knows what to look for, he knows when to cut with the ball, he knows how we're going to make our pushes up front. He makes the yards, so he does a good job."

How is Juantez Hollins coming along?
"Juantez is still learning. That was his first game. Like coach was talking, your biggest improvement is from game one to game two. We'll see how he does this week. Turnley did a good job. His snaps were 100 percent. He was comfortable in there. He was making all the calls, so I knew he is comfortable with what he was doing."

"We'll see how Juantez does this week. He'll be fine. He's working hard. There were calls, sometimes, I had to make. He's catching on and he knows that, but he needs to get in that film room a lot. So do I, but he needs to get in there and know what he's doing so it's second nature. He'll be better."

How does Maine's defensive line look?
"They look good up front. I think they look a little bit better than Buffalo up front. They move pretty well. I'm excited to play against them. They got some shifty guys up front; some good players."

"They do a lot of movement. If you have to double-team, you have to be fast. They're a 4-3. That's what they run, and they do a lot of movement."


Were you nervous for that first game?
"I just wanted to get down to the first play, so I could get comfortable. The first play, I just settled in and got comfortable, and just played the game."

"It was a lot different because I haven't played in a real game since the twelfth grade (in 2008) when I lost to Wilmington in my last high school game. It felt good to get back out there."

"I'm a lot more comfortable because I got the first game out of the way. Now, I know what's expected and I know what plays I'm going to run. I know how the game mentality is going to be."

What have you worked on this week?
"I would say getting my foot steps; not stepping under myself or crossing over and just finishing blocks. I worked on a lot of small things, little things like the right steps, hand placement and keeping my hands inside; just driving off the ball with a little extra effort. I just try my best. I just try to keep my head in the playbook, memorize all the plays and go hard."

"I just think that I had to get the little fundamental things down to get through the game. Once you start getting tired, that's when you start getting back to your old ways; not taking the right steps and just blocking. Coaches, they know to just keep the little things going, even when I'm tired."

What has helped you the most—practice or playing in a live game?
"I think both. I think all of it comes down. That's the only way you're going to get through the game; the fundamental work and watching film."

Is there any substitute for live-game experience?
"Yes, it was a lot different than practice. In practice, you're going against the scout team. They're going their hardest, but they're going to get tired. They've been practicing all day like you. Things start slowing down, but in the game, it's a lot faster. We'll be prepared. We know what we have coming to us now. We should be fine."


What did the corners take from the first game?
"We learned a lot. We just try to keep working hard, and get it done. We have to pick it up next week."

Has the film helped this week?
"We've seen a little bit of it. I think this coming week, we'll try to fix it up. We'll be a little bit better this week."

Coach Graham talked about wanting the corners to play up on their man more. Did you see that on the film?
"It was nothing too good, I'll tell you that much. We're going to make it happen this week. It's very correctable. You just have to work hard."

What was the cause of that?
"Miscommunication, a little bit. I think we're going to work in the framework of the system, and just play anything that comes our way to the boundary side, I guess."

Are you going to be able to press more?
"(Graham) feels that I can press. He's confident, and I'm confident I can press myself. He was a little disappointed I didn't press a lot throughout the game."

"I think most of the guys have bought in. It was just a couple plays out there we thought we could have made. For the most part, I think everyone has bought into the new system. We're working hard to get better."

"We just have to be more aggressive. We're just working our way through the system—anything they tell us to do, you do it. I think for the most part, we're comfortable playing the coverage; anything they tell us to do. I don't think guys are playing free. It was just a little miscommunication. That was about it."

Tino Sunseri

Since the game, how has the offense been working in practice this week?
"Just like what we talked about after the game, what was exciting was guys were working hard. The guys on the offensive line were doing a great job with protection. The thing that was inspiring and got us excited is what we could do when everything was going right and we were finishing plays. We were really getting people open. You could see in the second half, the tempo and that offense was really moving. We were able to go down the field pretty easily. We had 20 plays in the second half and scored 28 points. We just wanted to focus in and take care of the stuff that we could control. That's putting the ball on people, making sure we are blocking everybody that we can and looking downfield on our routes. We came to work today, and did a great job of finishing plays."

Is the timing coming along?
"It feels good. Guys were open, and we could have been in a rhythm earlier in the game. I just missed a couple of receivers. That's the biggest thing with this position—being able to go back and look at it, and make those adjustments during the week. The biggest thing is that we won the game. Now, going into this week, we have to make those corrections and be able to execute against Maine."

Were guys too ‘keyed up' as Coach Graham alluded to?
"I think Jordan and those guys were keyed up, or hyped up in the first half, but me, I try to stay cool and collected through the whole game. I don't think I was too high or too low throughout the whole game. I felt like I was comfortable in the first half. I overthrew some people. I was anticipating too much on where they were going to be instead of just playing backyard football, what you've been doing since you were a little kid; just putting the ball on people."

Mike Shanahan

How are the receivers responding this week?
"Obviously, we knew from the receivers standpoint that we had some opportunities to make some plays and it didn't work out for us. We were kind of eager to watch the film and Coach Norvell obviously hinted at some things to us that we need to be focused on this week. That's fundamentals, and just really doing the little things a lot better. That's kind of our focus this week."

"Obviously, the second half is something good to build off of. We really had some momentum today in practice. We came out working hard and focused. It's something to build off of."

Cameron Saddler

Were you guys too amped out coming out on Saturday?
"I think that was the big thing; we were caught off guard. At practice, we move fact, but you really can't simulate the game. Once we got in the game, we realized how fast everything was moving. It kind of slowed our tempo down a little bit. Once we got in the third quarter, we started rolling. You guys can see that. That's what we're used to. We're rolling with it."

How are the receivers and quarterbacks coming along with their timing?
"It happens, right? It happens. There was a preseason game on two weeks ago. Josh Freeman dropped back, and I think it was Mike Williams who was wide open. It looked exactly like ours. He just missed him, and that's what happens. It's football. Me and Tino are both sick. I think I am a little more sicker than he is about it. We worked on that this week, and if the chance presents itself this week, we have to make it happen."

Do you have to make those types of mistakes in a game to help you improve?
"Exactly. In practice, it's easy. The scout team guys aren't allowed to get on us. You can just throw it, and make the catch. In a game, you have to be on point. Like you said, it's a transition. The game speed, it's so much different in a game. Those guys on the other side of the ball don't like you. They're goal is to get the ball back. They'll do whatever it takes. Our defense isn't really like that. They're our players, so they know we're all playing smart. That's the difference. The game is so much faster."

Take us through the play where you were wide-open?
"I don't know. It was kind of a designed play. My route was supposed to have a little bit more flare to it. Once I seen the middle of the field was open, I said, ‘I'm going to get there,' and I got there. I think I might have caught Tino off guard a little bit because I got there so fast, but it was too open not to take it."

Are you more comfortable heading into this next game?
"Definitely. I thought I was more comfortable. I feel more comfortable now. This week at practice, I'm getting a little more swag about myself. I actually played in the game. I played 50 plays. Now, I feel like I have a feel for what's going to happen. My swag is going to be all right this week, so I should be all right. I just wanted to get my swag right now."

Who has the most swag on the team?
"I'm probably number-one. I have the most swag by far. Buddy Jackson has a little bit. The Florida guys, they're swag is a little different than us guys up here. Buddy Jackson has a little bit of swag. I'm a swag doctor, though. They come to me for the swag, definitely."


If needed, could you carry the ball 29 times a game?
"We struggled in the beginning, but once we got things going, we were good. If it takes that many carries to get things rolling, then that's what we have to do. Coach put us in good condition to do it, so I think I can go as many carries as we need."

Were you ever concerned with this new system, that you'd get the ball less?
"Not at all. When Coach Graham came here, he didn't say this was a spread offense. He said it was a no-huddle, and we run the ball out of it. He said that it's what Pitt is all about, and this is what Pitt is all about; running the ball like we did. When it was time to throw the ball, we threw the ball. We want to be effective on running the ball and throwing the ball. It's what this type of offense can do for us."

"This offense, you have to be patient with the offense. The run reads; some reads are two, three and ten, then those big runs will come. That's all you have to do, and that's what I think I have to do more. Going against another defense, I understand it and I realize it."

"We definitely left some holes out there that you could have hit. In a game, you just see different things. Coach always says, ‘You just have to play ball.'"

" We can't look into the past. The past is done with. The only thing we care about, is what's ahead of us for the future. They're just getting better every day. They keep working hard."

Coach Graham alluded to the fact he would like to give you more rest in between carries. How do you tell when you're tired?
"As a running back, you don't see yourself getting tired out there on the field. I just get an effort, and try to get 110 percent every time. That's just me being who I am. I wasn't being greedy, but (Graham) definitely read my mind. When the fourth quarter comes, we should be playing it like the first quarter. I'll definitely do better."

How do you deal with the weather ?
"Especially, with the humidity. It was so humid out there. We just had to go out there and give it our all, and fight through it. We fought through it. The second half, we came out, and we showed what we were capable of doing."

"It was still a game. It was hot, but (Buffalo) is hot too. There's no excuses out there. Once you complain, you're going to lean to that complaining. You say you're tired, now you're going to look towards being tired. In football, you just play. You don't worry about that. You worry about that when you get off the field."

Do you feel conditioned to handle the weather?
"Your conditioning definitely kicked in. In training camp, there were hot days. Once the season started, we didn't really get any of those hot days because of practices in the morning. Once we went out there, we kind of went back to our days; those hot days, like camp. We should get used to it in a game too."

How has the offensive line been this week?
"They've improved very well. They run to the ball. They run on and off the field. Coming from a pro-style (offense), we had to get them out of that. It's not so much that they were lazy, but now they just have to hustle. They're doing a very good job at that. They just keep getting better and better at that."

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