PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Pitt coach Todd Graham spoke with the media Monday to recap Pitt’s 34-10 loss at Rutgers and preview Saturday’s game against Utah at Heinz Field.
Here are some main points Graham touched on Monday afternoon…
– Graham led the press conference off by explaining that it’s his responsibility to get the team ready to play and he didn’t do that. Pitt has to learn from the mistakes it made Saturday — far too many mistakes, turnovers — and rebound with a win against Utah. He said negative yardage plays and turnovers were the difference in the game.
– He moved on to say Utah is one of the best coached teams in the country and the Utes have a very good defense. Graham said Utah has struggled because of turnovers, and they’re better than their 2-3 record indicates.
– Graham said “we didn’t execute our plan at all.” He said mistakes gave Rutgers a short field and that really flipped the script on the game. He said Pitt knew it had to win the turnover ratio and special teams battle and neither came through. He said Pitt isn’t consistent or mature enough yet. “I didn’t have ’em ready,” he said.
– When asked about the growing pains that come with a new system, Graham said “there’s more than I thought there (would) be.” He said too many mental errors are a result of Pitt’s biggest struggles.
– Graham said the one sole focus of his football team is protecting the ball offensively and forcing turnovers on defense. Neither, he said, have happened consistently enough and that led to the loss Saturday at Rutgers.
– As far as exceeding expectations, Graham said the defense’s ability to improve week to week has been a welcome sight. He said defense has been effective at impacting the quarterback and limiting big plays. He also said that running backs Ray Graham and Zach Brown have exceeded expectations as well. Graham said progress in those areas is why he believes Pitt can win a conference championship this season.
– Graham said offensive lineman Lucas Nix is day-to-day for Saturday. He hopes Nix will be able to play. If not this week, he thinks next week. Todd Thomas is “in the same boat.”
– Graham said Utah plays defense a lot like Rutgers in relation to rushing the quarterback. He expects to see similar things from the Utes this weekend.
– Graham said Pitt took two giant steps forward against USF and then took a few back at Rutgers. The potential is there, he said.
– On the quarterback front, Graham once again said timing is an issue. He said the offensive line was the biggest problem, though. The pressure and inexperience up front contributed to the loss. He said he didn’t think the guys played as hard as they should and that falls on the coaches. He said Saturday was “our worst game offensively.”
– He went on to say he hasn’t second-guessed his choice to put Trey Anderson in at QB in the second half. He said the coaching staff likes Anderson’s skill set, but the switch didn’t provide the spark they were hoping for.
– Graham noted that it’s phenomenal Ray Graham is leading the nation in rushing even with two starting offensive linemen out with injuries.
Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog