On Tuesday we started a conversation with Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph. Here is the second and final part of that interview:
Where do you feel the state of the program is right now? I know it’s a loaded question, but it’s in such desperate need of stability and now that you guys are in your second season, where are you at in terms of your master plan and blueprint for the program?
Joe Rudolph: You described it as a desperate need for stability. I think it changed when Paul [Chryst] took the job. It might not have been felt yet, it’s kind of that deceleration getting ready to accelerate in the opposite direction, but that is when it changed. It is the right guy for that. His approach to what this group needs is really all based on stability and consistency and accountability. When that is your mantra and that is everything you want for these young men, you do have a chance to get there a little bit faster. I feel like with this group as we finished spring, every one of them could be able to put into words what it is to be accountable, what we want in a program, what it is to truly appreciate the game and hard work. Now, to do that consistently is the next goal. To be detailed all the time, not just some of the time. I really like where it is. It’s a young group, and there’s a lot of fun in that, and also, like you said, where’s the comfort in that? You never know. You never know. There’s comfort in knowing every rep they’re taking is going to be valued because guys are going to be doing it quite a while for you.
Back to Tom [Savage], can you give me a scouting report? Quick release? Mobile? Hit guys in the numbers? What’s he look like on film?
JR: First, he’s blessed with a great arm. He’s got great intangibles there. He’s very smart and being able to tie those things together will be ideal. He has experience, and he has a calmness about him within the pocket and going through his progressions, accuracy, those are all strengths of his. His game is in the confidence and it is in slowing it down through his understanding and knowledge. That’s why, where we finished the spring off, I’m excited to see what he can put together as we approach fall camp.
What’s your biggest concern yet heading into fall camp?
JR: It’s probably the complimentary players, cohesiveness on the offensive line. It’s an emergence at tailback. And it’s some of the positions and players we haven’t mentioned. It’s truly someone rising up as a second and third wide receiver. It’s those types of things, those are the things you want to see happen.
Is there any greater sense of urgency because you guys know you’re starting with Florida State?
JR: It’s not something we bring up to our guys, but without question our guys know it. I don’t think that would flow with what we’re trying to say about being consistent. We’re not going to do something different because we’re opening with Florida State. Hopefully we’re doing it no matter who we’re opening up with. But without question those guys see that, and they’re aware of it. That’s not going to be hard to create some urgency by understanding that.
Are you looking forward to playing in the ACC?
JR: Very much so. I think you take a look at that schedule and it’s pretty exciting. You can see it from what’s happening here. The fan base is excited to see those teams come in here and play. I just think it’s exciting as a conference. It is great athletic programs. When you go and you talk about that coupled with true dedication to education and what those schools represent, from an education standpoint, it’s what you want. Those are the types of student-athletes you want to bring on board.
From a fan’s perspective you guys have a pretty sweet home schedule.
JR: Yeah. It’s pretty fun. And the guys are excited about that. It’s going to be challenging, but I like where the group is at right now. They’re working and they have fun. They’re truly starting to enjoy what it’s all about and the process of getting there. Those are the right steps.
What did you guys say to them last year to get that effort out of them against Virginia Tech?
JR: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if I could put my finger on the highs and lows of the season. You loved it when you had that rolling, but I think consistency is what we didn’t have, obviously. We went two losses, two wins, that cycle all the way through, and you didn’t have that consistency. Sometimes they played better than you thought they would going out, and sometimes they didn’t play as well as you’d hoped. There did seem to be those times when you could turn that momentum when it wasn’t going well, we really had something to turn it to make it go right. That’s what we have to strive for this year.