Pitt's Chryst wary of Old Dominion's two-way threat

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When asked to give a scouting report on Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Pitt coach Paul Chryst invoked a name that might have raised some eyebrows: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Chryst was Wilson's offensive coordinator at Wisconsin in 2011 and said the two are similar in that they are mobile enough to run, but always are looking to pass if they get a chance.

"He's an accurate passer," Chryst said Monday. "When teams do things coverage-wise and aren't disciplined in their rush lanes, he's exposed them. He's athletic, but he's going to try to get the ball down the field. When I was with Russell Wilson, he played like that."

Through six games this season, Heinicke has thrown for 2,088 yards and 14 touchdowns, mostly against Division I-AA competition (the Monarchs are in the process of reclassifying to Division I-A next season). He has added 235 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

In his best game against a I-A opponent, the season opener against East Carolina, Heinicke completed 74.5 percent of his passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 52 yards and a score in a game Old Dominion lost, 52-38.

"I think it's a good scheme, but they have good players running it. Certainly in that offense, a lot does fall on him [Heinicke]," Chryst said. "They'll do some spread and gun-run, but it looks like most of his yards come in the passing game and when he extends the play."

Don't blame OL

Chryst repeated Monday that Pitt's pass-protection issues in a 19-9 loss at Virginia Tech Saturday were not entirely on the offensive line.

Specifically, he pointed to a couple of plays when quarterback Tom Savage needed to get the ball out of his hands quicker.

"I thought a couple times we got challenged on the perimeter routes, so, sometimes, he waited one split-second for it to open up," Chryst said. "Then you end up holding on, and it wasn't a game to be holding on to the ball. When you look at the tape, there's responsibility to be had in all areas."

Five of the Hokies' sacks came on first down, so the Panthers frequently were forced into in second-and-long and third-and-long situations, a big reason the rushing attacked sputtered for the second game in a row.

"You make it harder when you have lost-yardage plays," Chryst said. "When you're in significantly deeper situations, that's harder.

"We've just got to play better on offense, period," Chryst said. "We can sit and talk all we want. We've got to play better."

Hit on Street legal

According to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the play that knocked Pitt receiver Devin Street out of the game Saturday was a legal hit by Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett. Chryst said he questioned whether or not it was helmet-to-helmet and requested clarification from the league office. When asked if he saw it as a legal hit, Chryst said, "It doesn't matter."

Street left the game with a shoulder injury. Chryst said he and running back James Conner (left shoulder) did not practice Monday, and would be day-to-day this week.


• Game: Pitt (3-2) vs. Old Dominion (4-2).

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Heinz Field.

• TV: Root Sports.


• Ben Roethlisberger and his wife, Ashley, are expecting a second child to be born in the spring.

-- post-gazette.com


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published October 14, 2013 8:00 PM


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