Pitt coach Todd Graham talks Louisville

From his weekly presser.

On the next game at Louisville:

"We need to look forward. We have a very well-coached football team in Louisville that we have to go up against this week. They have won three straight and they only have one loss in the conference. They are playing very well and riding high right now. They are a team you can tell is playing together well as a unit. They have a freshman quarterback who is an outstanding player and is going to be unbelievable. He has continued to get better every single week and they are the best defense in the league. I think they are number one in the conference in total defense. Coach Strong does a tremendous job. Louisville is a well-coached team and they are on fire right now. Our guys understand we have a lot to play for and you never know what is going to happen in this league. The bottom line is you have to go out and play Pitt football. We have to figure out how to get a win on the road. It is going to be a tall order because of where they’re playing at right now. The bottom line is if we correct the things we’re doing wrong then we’re going to have an opportunity to win a football game. Our guys are excited and have a great attitude about it. Last week was disappointing and not where we want to be. We feel like we have strong foundation with our guys. Our guys are focused and not making any excuses. We are moving forward and looking to get a win at Louisville."

On the offensive line against Louisville:

"We are hopeful again that Lucas Nix will be able to make it back because it will help us tremendously inside. We had a lot of mental errors on the inside this last week and did not play very well up front. There were critical plays with a lot of missed opportunities where we blew some protection and blew some plays. It was just one spot we struggled with. We need to keep plugging and we’re making zero excuses. If we get Nix back that will help us, but I still have a lot of confidence in our guys. A player I want to point out is Greg Gaskins. In last two ball games he has played way above his potential and he is a guy who cares because it means a lot to him. Jordan Gibbs is another guy who has played really hard for us and is doing a great job at battling. Ryan Turnley is unbelievable to be able to play at the level he is without getting many snaps in during the week."

On winning out to get to a bowl:

"We need to go and beat Louisville and we can’t really look past that. We need to go on the road, beat Louisville and then go on to the next game. For this program, for where we’re going, for this group of seniors and for this team, that is what we have to do. I have confidence that our guys will go and do that. They have done everything I have asked them and then some. We have fallen short in some execution things and in those close games you can’t make those kinds of mistakes. We need to eliminate them. I have said it all year: our number one goal is to take care of the football. We came in at halftime against Cincinnati and I felt really good about that. I said to the guys if in the next thirty minutes we don’t turn the ball over and we don’t have any penalities then there is no way we are losing this game. We are not trying to turn the football over but you have to give the other team a lot of credit. Our team has a lot of character and heart but we need to figure out a way to beat Louisville.

On whether the team ‘has its back against the wall’:

"I think our backs have been against the wall since the Rutgers game. Our guys don’t look at it that way. These guys want to win a championship and every single game they have gone out and laid it on the line. I watch the film and there is not one player on that field not giving us everything they’ve got. We talk about how we play as Pitt men — we have to be relentless as far as toughness, and disciplined in the effort we give. The discipline part in taking care of the ball is what has hurt us. We try to come back and attempt to do things outside of the system, but we have some breakdowns. We have pressures but as along as you keep the ball and don’t give it to the other team then that’s a good play. We need to eliminate those mistakes. These guys want to win and I want them to have an opportunity to go to a bowl game. Who knows what is going to happen. Our single focus is to beat Louisville and then go on to the next one.

"Our guys are sick of losing. They are sick of being up one week then down the next. They are sick of being inconsistent and their thought process is more on that. A lot of work goes in to this thing and some of these guys have been putting in work for five years, which is longer than I have invested. Our guys go out every week and they want to win for their team and their university. We have made unbelievable progress with this team in how they feel about each other and this football program. We are going out there to win every week. We want to win championships and that is what our program is about. As long as I am leading we are going to focus on winning championships. Our goal is not to go to a bowl game but we want to do that for our seniors. Whatever we can do to make their experience the best one then that will be our focus."

On Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater: 

"Teddy Bridgewater is tremendously athletic and can really extend plays. They were using two guys earlier and now they locked down with just Teddy. You can see him really developing and getting better every week. He throws a lot of short controlled passes. He is starting to get a grasp of the system and what they are asking from him. He is doing a good job at what they are asking him to do. This past week they were able to move the football and score points. He has some good people around him and they have a good running game. He has good quality receivers and big tight ends. Teddy is a dual threat and an athletic type of quarterback that can throw the ball. He is a very poised player. Teddy commented how many people say he is too young, but he responds by saying they place trust in their coach and believe in one another. They don’t listen to anyone else, they go out and play the game and that is what you need to do. Our deal is he is a freshmen quarterback and our defense knows what they have to do. Our strength is our defense and Louisville’s strength is their defense. Our guys need to go out and play great defense, great special teams and take care of the ball on offense."  

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