Paul Chryst has made a point of emphasis in trying to cut down on the number of penalties his team has committed. Pitt has committed a total of 20 penalties in the last two games, despite the two wins.
"You just have to play smart football," quarterback Tino Sunseri said. "Sometimes, people try to do too much and that's when penalties occur. You never want to play the sticks and a defense."
"It's kind of tough, because we don't have refs at our practices,," receiver Mike Shanahan said. "What we can do is watch the film, learn from our mistakes there. We just want to be as clean as possible."
One thing that's come out in the bye week, is some of the early praise for what this coaching staff has done. Yes, it is still early in the season, but after turning things around to make their overall record at 2-2, there's a lot of optimism.
Take if from Tino Sunseri, who is coming off the best two-game stretch of his career. Sunseri has completed a combined 37-of-52 (71.2%) for 627 yards, 6 touchdown passes and just one interception. He's also been sacked just once.
"He does a great job, giving you every answer to every play," Sunseri said. "He kind of diagnoses the play, and covers every dynamic of the play so that there's nothing you haven't gone over to be surprised."
Shanahan, who's coming off back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in his career, not to mention back-to-back career-highs, talked about Chryst as a player's coach.
"He's very upbeat, he's always cracking jokes, he keeps it really loose around here," Shanahan said. "We're starting to take that personality."
Of course, it's not all fun and games. The players are also saying that Chryst knows when to have his fun, and when to turn on the serious tone. Devin Street says that seeing both sides of Chryst's personality makes everyone in the building more relaxed.
"I don't know that I've ever been around a coach with so much football knowledge," Street said. "It is all about being personable, though. We know when it's time to go to work. We also know when it's time to kick back and relax too. He's not always uptight. He's just a great guy."
Asked if there was one player that Chryst jokingly gives a harder time to more than others, he had an easy answer.
"Cam (Saddler)," Shanahan said. "That's another great part. (Chryst) can say stuff, and you can (jokingly) give it right back to him."
Both players and coaches this week have shyed away from too much Syracuse talk. However, in asking a general question about the tough environment of the Carrier Dome, Tino Sunseri--despite only playing there once--related it to playing in any other tough raid venue.
Sunseri related it to his high school career at nearby Central Catholic, where all of his games were played on the road.
"My whole high school career, I played away," Sunseri said. "I always like when the fans boo you. I like being the underdog in the building. I like everyone wanting you to fail. I really think that brings out the best in your competitiveness."