By Abbey Way and Matt Popchock

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Perhaps one major difference between the Todd Graham era and the Paul Chryst era at Pitt, early impressions being what they are, is that this coaching staff seems to have had the trust of its players since the season opened.

When head coach Paul Chryst was asked by the media if he feels like the players are starting to buy into what he is selling he said he doesn’t think they ever didn’t buy into his plan.

“I never felt like I was fighting against them…everyone’s got a role and everyone’s got a job to do on each play and guys got to do that,” Chryst said on the South Side Thursday. “Our job is to make sure they know what to do, know how to do it and that they feel confident doing it.”

Looking ahead at the game this weekend against Gardner-Webb, Chryst said he is never as concerned about the opponent as he is his own team. Chryst said the Panthers just need to focus on executing the plan and be aware of what Gardner Webb can do on both sides of the ball. He expects versatility on offense and a strong defense that is ready to attack.

Chryst, who rarely addresses injuries, did update the media this time on who he expects to sit out this weekend.

Cornerback Jahmahl Pardner tore his ACL against Virginia Tech and will be out for the entire year. Tight end Hubie Graham has done very little this week due to a clavicle injury, and his presence this weekend is unlikely.

In addition, according to Chryst, linebacker Todd Thomas feels better each day, and he may get some snaps on Saturday. He also said he doesn’t feel great about defensively lineman Aaron Donald, though the coach did not definitively rule out his Penn Hills product for this game.

Kickoff between the Panthers and Bulldogs is set for 3:30 at Heinz Field, with Panther Gameday, featuring Gregg Giannotti, starting at 1:00, on your flagship home for Pitt football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.

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