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Pitt notebook: Film study reveals pass defense issues after FSU loss

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Florida State's Nick O'Leary beats Pitt's K'Waun Williams for a first quarter touchdown on Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Florida State's Rashad Greene makes a second-quarter catch in front of Pitt's Ray Vinopal on Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt quarterback Tom Savage throws a touchdown pass to Manasseh Garner during the first quarter against Florida State on Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at Heinz Field. Savage, who also threw three interceptions, played in his first collegiate game in three seasons.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst saw the holes in his secondary. He saw what created them.

Now comes the tricky part: Fixing the problem.

Chryst said Wednesday there were reasons for the wide gaps between Florida State pass catchers and Pitt defenders that led to the 41-13 loss to the Seminoles on Monday.

“I think whether it's the depth by (linebackers), by the secondary at times, a little bit of — I don't want to say uncertainty — jumping a short guy, creating the space behind it,” he said. “Certainly a lot of things like that.”

The good news is the team already has taken steps toward improvements, he said.

“Coaches, players took ownership of the film and what we did,” Chryst said. “I think I'm encouraged a lot of things that need to be fixed are things in our control.”

After the first weekend of games, Pitt is one of 30 teams to allow 500 or more yards (533) and one of 34 to give up more than 40 points.

Some good, some bad

Tom Savage threw two interceptions against Florida State, marking the first time a Pitt starting quarterback has thrown more than one since Tino Sunseri's three against Rutgers on Oct. 8, 2011.

Chryst was pleased with how Savage conducted himself in his first collegiate game since 2010.

“I loved his demeanor throughout the whole game when something good happened and something bad happened,” Chryst said. “I thought he was all the things you want. I thought he was a guy that truly enjoyed playing football again, competing.

“Even when he came off the field, he's telling you (what happened) before you have to bring it up.”

Savage was sacked three times, and Chryst said he wants him to become more consistent in getting the ball out of his hands.

“I thought Tom did some really good things. Then there's a couple where he's got to stay with or get off a little bit faster.”

Tyler's time

Freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd was Pitt's leading rusher in his first college game, gaining 54 yards on three sweeps that caught Florida State looking the other way, coach Jimbo Fisher said.

“We didn't support (those plays) directly like we wanted to from the secondary, which was all that was,” Fisher said. “That's something that can be fixed with guys making sure they get the right calls.”

Boyd also caught two passes for 26 yards and returned three kickoffs for 71.

Those 151 yards may result in more opportunities.

“You want to make sure that all the guys, they need to be playmakers,” Chryst said. “Tyler fits that. Devin (Street) fits in that. We have to find a way to make sure all our guys that can make a difference are getting touches. I feel real confident we can do it within the parameter of the offense.”

Injury update

Chryst said Pitt came out of the Florida State game “pretty healthy,” with no new injuries.

Running backs Isaac Bennett (knee) and James Conner (shoulder) each carried nine times for 35 and 34 yards, respectively.

Bennett missed the final two weeks of camp; Conner fell awkwardly on his shoulder Aug. 21.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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