Pitt looks to keep momentum after upsetting Notre Dame
There was no confetti to sweep off the Heinz Field playing surface or reports of excess celebrating among Pitt football players in the hours after the victory against Notre Dame.
Pitt is handling that small parcel of success the proper way, with the knowledge that its 5-4 record is mediocre, at best. What comes next will truly define the second season of the Paul Chryst era.
“Our backs are against the wall,” free safety Ray Vinopal said.
The stretch drive begins Saturday when North Carolina (4-5, 3-3) comes to town with a three-game winning streak. That those victories occurred against Boston College, N.C. State and Virginia (2-15 in the ACC) should be of no concern to Pitt.
Chryst's hope is that his players will cherish the memory of the Notre Dame victory but not immerse themselves in it.
Last year, they allowed the triple-overtime loss to the Irish to linger, and the result was poor effort against Connecticut.
“That will be a big message throughout the week,” Vinopal said. “You enjoy the victory after it happens, and then, you forget about it, just like you do a bad game. You can't expect last week's game to give us a victory this week.”
Chryst said he didn't notice a different attitude among players and coaches when they reported to work Sunday. There was no more carefree chatter than normal.
“Not really, and I kind of like it that way,” Chryst said. “It wasn't like the guys were skipping into the building and whistling ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.' ”
Center Artie Rowell admitted the Panthers do talk about what victories in the next three games (including Syracuse and Miami) would mean.
“Sure,” he said. “We need one more to get bowl eligible. If we win two more, we can go to a better bowl game. If we win three more, we can go to an even better bowl game.” Six ACC schools are bowl eligible, and they are expected to land the prime berths, led by No. 2 Florida State, which is in line to play Alabama for the national championship.
The ACC has ties or possible ties to 10 bowls, and there promises to be plenty of competition for those spots. Pitt is one of four conference teams that need to win only one more game to become bowl eligible, and North Carolina will enter the fray if it wins Saturday.
Chryst is aware that a thin line often separates success from failure. He fielded questions this week from reporters suggesting Pitt could have gone in the wrong direction after losing its two games prior to Notre Dame.
“Now, all of a sudden, we are going to beat the '85 Bears,” he said. “Two extremes right there, and we just have to stay in our world this week, every week.
“That's why we have to stay consistent. Notre Dame is a great program, right? But at the same time, guys invest a lot into (the entire) season.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt offense eyes healthy balance
- Notre Dame leads powerhouses in ACC; Pitt women picked 14th
- Pitt notebook: Chryst didn’t lobby to keep Watt at tight end
- All signs positive for Pitt junior forward Johnson
- Discipline Pitt’s only option against Georgia Tech