Paul Chryst said the mission of the bye week was simple; to get better. Did his team fulfill that?
"I think so, I hope so," Chryst said.
Within that topic of the bye week, Chryst feels the team benefitted from having the week off in the area of injuries. Take for example Aaron Donald, who was held out of the Gardner-Webb game for precautionary sake. Chryst said in both his Big East teleconference and his weekly Pitt press conference that he expects Donald to play.
One player who could be back this week is linebacker Todd Thomas. While Thomas is not listed in the two-deep at linebacker, his chances of returning to the field have been greater each week. Last week, Thomas practiced in full pads. Chryst said he was a possibility of playing against Gardner-Webb, before being ruled questionable two days before.
STRONG Syracuse PASSING GAME
Friday's matchup will feature the Big East's two top passing offenses, if you can believe that. Syracuse enters the contest averaging 341.8 yards a game, leading the conference. Pitt is second, averaging 299.2 passing yards a game.
On paper, the numbers look impressive. A big chunk of the passing yards came in shootout losses to Northwestern (41-42) and USC (29-42). Syracuse had to throw the ball late in both games. Regardless of the outcome, Pitt head Paul Chryst says that Ryan Nassib will be a challenge. Nassib enters this contest with 39 career games.
"He's confident in where he's going with all his throws," Chryst said. "He shows toughness to the end, and I think he likes those (late-game) situations. He has a lot of good qualities from afar."
Take for example Nassib's passing numbers from the first half of games this year, versus the second half. In the first half this season, Nassib has completed a combined 39-of-73 (53.4%) for 436 yards, 1 TD pass and 3 INT. The second half shows a much different quarterback. Nassib has completed 79-of-105 passes (75.2%) for 831 yards, 9 TD and 2 INT.
"I think they're a good football team," Chryst said. "Our guys know that. They're a well coached and they have good players. We have to play well."
OPEN DOOR POLICY
Last week, a number of Pitt players commented on how accessible Chryst and his staff are, even away from the field. Players like Mike Shanahan commented that Chryst likes to joke around with the players off the field, but also shows them the serious side when it's time to get to work. Not to mention, the players also say Chryst's door is always open for any type of conversation.
At his Monday press conference, Chryst explained that philosophy.
"I just think it's who we are, and it's important," Chryst said. "That's why we're appreciative of being here. We've got a pretty god job. Players have always been the number one thing in why we're here."
COACH GAME WATCH
With the bye week, did Chryst get a chance to watch any games from Saturday?
"It's a little personal," Chryst joked. "I watched the Pine-Richland-Kiski JV game (Saturday morning). It was a 14-14 tie."
Saturday was the second-highest collective scoring output in the history of college football. As an offensive coach, does Chryst like or dislike this trend of high-scoring games?
"If you looked at it, offensively and defensive, the film would look different than it did ten years ago," Chryst said. "The spread has had an impact. I think defensively, probably a lot more pressures."
Louisville KICKOFF ANNOUNCED
Pitt's kickoff for its Homecoming game with Louisville on October 13 will be an 11 am kickoff, televised on ESPNU. The 11 am kickoff is on the heels of the Midnight Madness, which will be held the night before. Chryst has seen a number of 11 am kickoffs while at Wisconsin, where a majority of games are played to coerce with the eastern standard time zone.
It might be new, or a different game time here, Chryst downplayed any significance or anything startling about it.
"Friday at 7, I'm fired up," Chryst joked. "Games are great. It's all good.