Video: Sophomores Still Looking To Prove

Players unfazed by 3-0 start, looking for more to prove with its toughest test to date on Saturday against Iowa.

Keep in mind, that when Chad Voytik, James Conner and Adam Bisnowaty came in to meet with the media on Wednesday after practice, they are three players that are still relatively young in their careers.

But that's on paper. These three have already played in a lot of games, and are three of the more experienced players on the offense as a whole.

* Voytik just completed his third start. If you include last year's bowl game, Voytik has been Pitt's quarterback for the better part of a quarter of a season.

* Bisnowaty, despite battling some back injuries last year, in his first year as a starter, has not only battled back from those back injuries. He may be Pitt's most versatile lineman this year. That's because he's started at left tackle, has moved in to left guard in certain situations, and even filled in for T.J. Clemmings at the end of the Boston College game.

For a guy who had to prove the back was healthy this year, he's proved past that, establishing a comfort level where the staff likes to move him around.

* Don't forget Conner, who is off to a spectacular start as a sophomore, running the football. And yes, there is still talk of him possibly playing defensive end. Conner is fourth in the country, averaging 181.3 yards per game.

So while that's all good and dandy, when you forget these three are sophomores--16 collegiate games in to their respective careers--they're not interested in just getting better by simply playing. They're already trying to improve from one game to the next, no excuses about youth.

"We were executing (against Florida International), it was just the red zone," Voytik said. "In the red zone, we didn't protect the ball. We were in scoring position. We just need to protect the ball better.

"We're willing to take shots. I think we're a very similar team to them. It's our most challenging opponent. We're ready to keep building on this thing."

Bisnowaty, for playing so many different responsibilities on the line, you would think it's a tough thing for him to differentiate the two positions. That, and breaking in a new center, when he's the left guard. It's not a walk in the park, but he says he's found ways to apply things when he's on the field.

"When I played last year, Cory King was at left guard, so he was really able to help me when I was playing tackle," Bisnowaty said. "I can help Dorian (Johnson) at guard, and I can help Jaryd (Jones-Smith) at tackle. I really feel like we play better when I can play both positions. We help each other. We can talk about it in the huddle."

Conner has some different motivations each week. First of all, the increased attention on the field and off the field. With each rushing performance he puts up, each defense turns more focus to shutting him down. At the same time, he finds himself handling more and more interview requests--something he's comfortable with, and something he feels he's been well-coached about.

"When he's not around us, it may have a problem going to his head," running backs coach John Settle said. "When he's around the coaches, he does a good job bringing it back here."

Conner said he's reached out to former Pitt player Aaron Donald, who gave him a few tips on how to handle the increased attention. He's also takes a few measures of his own.

"I talked to Aaron (Donald), recently, and I put the picture up of me breaking the record for the most rushing yards in (three) games," Conner said. "He said, 'Just stay focused, keep playing ball, those individual rewards you can't worry about right now.' You listen to every word he says.

"All that time spent on Twitter, social media, is time that could be spent in the weight room. I'm glad he reached out to me."

Conner said he's shutting down his own use of social media, or at least limiting it, until after the season.

The added media attention is nice, and he has no problems budgeting his time for extra interviews, not allowing it to interfere with his regular practice routine.

"I don't get too hyped about things," Conner said. "I was a little bit, but my brothers tell me it's still early. That puts me right back down in my place."


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