THREE WINS, THREE DIFFERENT WAYS
At 3-1 heading into this bye week, one thing unique about this Pitt team is that they've won three games, three different ways.
In a 49-27 win over New Mexico, Pitt had the offensive firepower--a 100-yard receiver with two 100-yard rushers, in a blowout. In a 58-55 win over Duke, head coach Paul Chryst got to showcase his coaching abilities in a shootout. Last week's 14-3 win over Virginia was a good win for the defense.
Chryst likes the idea his team has won three games three different ways, even though there have been deficiencies in some area or another.
"It was very interesting," Chryst said. "It helps our team. It's a team game."
One part is the offensive line. The line has played well to this point of the season, working with a whole new set of starters. The group has stayed healthy, and has played better than many expected.
However, in the win over Virginia, the Pitt offensive line had a bit of a setback in allowing seven sacks. No panic buttons, but at the same time, the bye week comes at a good time for this group.
"Virginia, they have some good players," Chryst said. "That's one nice thing about the bye. Coaches have had a lot of time, to look at our runs, protections, and where we're giving things up. There's a lot of things we can point to our guys. There are plenty of ways we can improve."
LEAGUE REVIEWS HIT ON SAVAGE.
Quarterback Tom Savage left the game in the fourth quarter, after taking a hit on a slide.
Much was made in the offseason, and this first month of the regular season, at a new NCAA rule made at protecting players. The rule states that any defender targeting a player with the crown of his helmet will be flagged for a personal foul penalty, and ejected from the game. If the penalty is committed in the second half of a game, the penalty will be enforced into the first half of the following week.
The call can also be made if the official feels the defender is targeting a defenseless player.
In the third quarter of Saturday's win, Savage took off scrambling for a short gain. As he slid to the ground, he was hit by Virginia defensive back Daquan Romero.
Obviously, there was helmet-to-helmet contact. However, after film of the lay was sent to the ACC, the league sided with the officials' call in the game. Since Savage was sliding on the play, he was not deemed a defenseless player, which makes sense. However, the league did not feel that Romero led with the crown of his helmet.
"We've talked to the league office about that," Chryst added. "Each week, we submit plays. We got a response. It's certainly a part of football. Everyone wants to protect all the players. There's no change in what happened on that play.
"Everyone is conscious about that, they want to talk about that. When a player is giving himself up on a slide. Defenders come in at one level. I think there's a great emphasis on the integrity of the game with a high importance of taking care of those plays."
Pitt released a statement earlier in the week that Savage should be good to go next Saturday. Chryst also seems confident. However, Chad Voytik will start getting more reps this week in practice--in order to let Savage recover more, but to also get Voytik ready.
"(Savage) is doing good, he did good on Sunday," Chryst said. "He feels good. He's not going to do much this week. We have to make sure (Voytik) gets a lot of work this week. But thankfully, he's doing well."
BOYD ADDED TO THE BILETNIKOFF WATCH LIST
On Tuesday, Tyler Boyd was one of three players added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. Boyd has 425 yards receiving on 23 catches this season, and has three consecutive 100-yard games.
He's not the team's leading receiver, though. That honor goes to Devin Street, already on the Biletnikoff Watch List, who has 445 yards on 21 catches.
Chryst said what Boyd has done to this point has been impressive, not just for himself, but also not allowing defenses to focus on shutting down just one player.
"Anytime you can have a couple guys, when a defense can't focus on one guy, it certainly does help," Chryst said. "The development of Tyler has been very exciting for our offense. The development of Devin and Tyler has been good, and they can certainly get better."
This will be Chryst's first trip to Blacksburg, since his days as a graduate assistant under Don Nehlen at West Virginia, a 26-21 Virginia Tech win on October 6, 1990.
Chryst spoke of Beamer's longevity at Virginia Tech, and how it's something to marvel at these days.
"He's a classy guy, personable, he's one of those icons," Chryst said. "He truly is a coaching legend. It reminded me when I got to be under Don Nehlen--a guy that's been at one place, and done some remarkable things at one place. I have a ton of respect for him. To have the energy he has, but there's a ton of reasons. Every coach would want to be at a place that long."