Pitt head coach Paul Chryst previewed the team's game against South Florida this Saturday.
"We put ourselves in a position where we go and play a game Saturday and try to earn the right to play another game. For the players and coaches that’s pretty significant," Chryst said. "I love any time we get a chance to play more football. We’re looking forward to a good week of preparation and going down and playing."
Even though their record is not very good, Chryst credits them for playing well against good teams.
"You look at South Florida and I see a lot of speed and a lot of talent. You watch the games and the number of close games that they’ve had against good teams, I have a lot of respect for them," Chryst said. "The last couple days, watching South Florida we have to lock in."
The Bulls lost their starting quarterback B.J. Daniels this season, but Chryst still considers them a tough opponent.
“I have a lot of respect for them. I had a chance to meet Daniels at the Big East meetings. You talk about an impressive kid. I knew about him as a player. Anytime any team loses a guy like that, that’s significant. I’ve been watching them and still have to study more of it. He (QB Matt Floyd) throws the ball extremely well and they’ve got talent around him. I’ll keep watching more and we’ve got to come up with a good plan and be ready to go Saturday.”
He also expects the Panther players to take South Florida seriously.
“Shame on us if we don’t have the right attitude. It also means to me, that you haven’t watched much tape. You throw on the film and I see talented players. They’re playing fast and I know they’re well coached. That would be a big mistake, not respecting any opponent, but certainly this one. I don’t think you have to manufacture something, just show them what’s on tape and they know," Chryst said. "A lot of these guys know about the other players, the older players. I don’t anticipate that being a problem because it’s not something we have to manufacture, it’s real and on tape. They’ve got a lot of good players and a good team. They haven’t won as many as they’d like, nor have we. Of all the teams to be going in to it with that approach, it certainly shouldn’t and won’t be us.”
The Panthers need to win to become bowl-eligible.
“ We’ve got to go earn it and I like that part of it. When you go to a bowl you’ve done enough to earn the right to play another game and a chance, to selfishly, to be around some of these guys for one more game," Chryst said. "No doubt there’s benefit to extra practice and what you can do with the young kids. Before all that bowl talk, there’s enough (going on). "
Chryst pointed out the benefits of a team playing in a bowl game.
“You only go to a bowl if you’ve achieved a certain level. I think it’s a lot of the football part of it. I have a tendency to hone in on that. That’s what everyone wants to do and it is certainly a goal," Chryst said. "I’m sure there’s a lot, but we get to live in a football world and lock in on those (benefits). The benefits to the program and reward to players are huge.”
This is Pitt's last regular-season game and also its last as a member of the Big East Conference.
“You’d hope [The Seniors] go in to every game kind of on that emotional edge. I think it's great that we’re playing for something very significant. Emotion carries you so far, but then you have to play well and you’ve got to focus on that," Chryst said. "That’s what we talked about before the game last week. Enjoy the emotional part of having your parents and those you love and who love you being there. Whatever those emotions are, take them in and then go play. I think each guy’s career is a little different, so how they’re going to reflect back on this or how emotional that day or game will be is really individual. The bottom line is you still get to go out and play. What you do is what you remember the most. Play well.”
Pitt's defense has improved as the season went on.
“Saturday I thought that we did a great job in the first half on 3rd down. I thought we tackled better. Its kind of what we’ve been talking about with Tino, it adds up over time running the same defense," Chryst said. "Hearing the calls, knowing how it fits and matches up to certain formations and personnel groups. There’s growth there and you’re hoping it carries forward, but we have some guys that played last year, but also have a group of guys that are maturing. They’re getting older and they’re playing and gaining experience. Hopefully we carry that forward Saturday.”