Pitt notebook: Chryst gives older Panthers a break
October 3, 2013 8:00 AM
While quarterback Tom Savage is expected to play Oct. 12 against Virginia Tech, backup Chad Voytik will get more snaps in practice during the off week
By Sam Werner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Even though Tom Savage is expected to play in Pitt's next game Oct. 12 at Virginia Tech, this senior quarterback likely will have a lighter load than usual this week in practice.
Panthers coach Paul Chryst said he plans to use Pitt's open date this weekend as a chance to rest some older players, who may be nursing bumps and bruises, and let some younger players -- in Savage's case, redshirt freshman Chad Voytik -- get some meaningful snaps with the first team in practice.
Savage left Pitt's 14-3 win Saturday against Virginia with "concussion-like symptoms" in the fourth quarter, and it was later announced he did suffer a mild concussion.
Chryst said Wednesday that Savage was "doing well" and passing all the concussion testing protocol he is required to go through.
The team had Monday and Tuesday off this week, and some of the veterans will get an even longer break from full participation in practice.
"This bye week comes almost at a midpoint," Chryst said. "If you took fall camp and the season, we're two months in with two months to go.
"There's a certain number of groups of guys -- Tom is one of them -- that we're going to use it kind of to rest their bodies."
Chryst said he also plans to use the off week to help players take a big-picture look at where they stand through four games. With 19 freshmen and redshirt freshmen playing meaningful snaps for the Panthers, now could be a good time to reflect on the first four games of their college careers.
"I think everyone's at a different learning curve," Chryst said. "It's all what you bring to it through experience or what your position is. But I think everyone can really benefit from taking a step back."
Chryst did note that it's important to keep the younger players in the rhythm of the season this week, even though there's no game Saturday.
When was Savage injured?
After the game Saturday, Chryst said he thought Savage got hurt on what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the third quarter. It turns out, the injury happened a little later than that.
Chryst said Wednesday that Savage's concussion came when he took a sack on Pitt's second-to-last drive of the game. He did not play again after that.
But Chryst also submitted the third-quarter hit to the Atlantic Coast Conference office for review.
On that play, Savage was going into a slide when he was hit by Virginia's Daquan Romero, and Romero appeared to make contact with Savage's helmet. No penalty was called on the play.
"Certainly I think there's a great emphasis -- and the right emphasis -- at looking to make sure we keep the integrity of the game, also with a high importance and level of taking care of those playing," Chryst said.
Offensive line progressing
Chryst said he's not overly concerned about the play of Pitt's offensive line, which gave up seven sacks to Virginia.
Through the first four games, the unit had been a pleasant surprise with three new starters and two players who changed positions coming together nicely.
Like most units, the off week will help Chryst and offensive line coach Jim Hueber go through and fix the details that were lacking against Virginia.
"There's a lot of things that we can point to for our guys," Chryst said. "I'm sure every team's like this, but we can clean this up. As coaches, you want to give them tangible ways they can improve. We have plenty of tape to show our guys."