MEDIA DAY NOTES: Pitt State motivated heading into 2022 season

PJ Sarwinski and Kory Woodruff join HC Brian Wright in Kansas City Tuesday.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Pittsburg State Gorillas were represented by head coach Brian Wright, linebacker PJ Sarwinski and offensive lineman Kory Woodruff Tuesday at MIAA Football Media Day in Kansas City.

The Gorillas were picked #3 in the MIAA preseason poll after going 8-3 overall last season. They’ll open the season on September 1st, hosting Central Missouri.

Here are some notes from the team’s time taking questions from the media Tuesday afternoon.

ON LAST SEASON:

(Wright) “We’re excited about this season. We’re certainly building off a good season, but not a great season. Last season wasn’t up to our standards. We played good football, good enough to win eight games, but that’s not the goal at Pittsburg State. That’s not what these guys work for. We’ve talked about closing the gap this off-season, and our guys have worked to do that. I’m excited to kick off the season.”

(Sarwinski) “We played good football, but it wasn’t up to our expectations. We lose three close games last year. We started this spring to move things in the right direction. We’ve had a lot of guys show up and work hard this summer, and we’re excited about the season.”

(Woodruff) “Going 8-3 last season isn’t what we wanted to do, but it propelled us to have a good summer. When the time comes, we’ll be ready.”

WRIGHT ON GOING 8-3 IN FIRST FULL SEASON:

(Wright) “The day after the Fort Hays State game last year, I felt like this staff and this team really committed to coming together to figure out how we can finish in a better way…It’s been so much fun to be around this group. We have a lot of great people in this organization who are committed to each other and are committed to getting better. In the end-of-season meetings it was fun to get with the guys and talk about where we needed to go and what the solutions were. Now they’re putting those words into action. These captains have put it in their hands to find the things we need to do to get better and have more success than last year.”

ON WHAT TEAM HAS SHOWN THIS OFF-SEASON:

(Wright) “We talked about taking the off-season to another level. I watched our guys do that in the winter and the spring. Then we talked about spring practice and how we handle meetings and practice, and they also took that to another level. We’re not allowed to do much with them in the summer, but I get to see all of these guys and they’re coming in and asking how they can lead their position groups or what they can do on their own to get better. They’re taking the necessary steps to improve.”

ON MOTIVATION FOR THE 2022 SEASON:

(Sarwinski) “I think a big motivator for us is just that we get to play the game of football. It’s a fresh year and we’re all excited for the opportunity. I have fait in our guys and we’re going to have a lot of energy and be prepared for every game.”

(Woodruff) “That 8-3 record last year left a sour taste in our mouths. Coming into the summer, we knew what we had to do…and when the time comes, we’ll be ready.”

WRIGHT ON THE SELECTION OF CAPTAINS:

(Wright) “At the end of the spring, I sat down with each player individually. At the end of each of those meetings, I had them select who they thought the captains should be. I wanted to do more than just put up a vote. We got to talk about it and talk through why they picked the players they picked. I got every players vote, and we did the same thing as a coaching staff. For the first time for me, we picked captains at the beginning of the summer. I wanted those guys to have a hands-on approach with our football team. I think we set a college record for number of captains with eight. I thought it was a good program to have, that we have so many guys our players view as leaders – and honestly there were probably a couple more who deserved it as well.”

ON RETURNING MULTIPLE VETERANS AND ALL-MIAA PLAYERS:

(Wright) “Any time you do that it’s a positive thing, especially at key positions. We bring a lot back, but each year presents new things and each year you have different situations. We’ll take those on as they come, but it certainly feels good to bring back the guys we’re bringing back.”

(Sarwinski) “The guys I’m playing with on defense, I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else. The trust and the confidence that I have in those guys is top-tier. I’ve never played in a sport or on a team where I’ve had this feeling. I’m very confident in our guys.”

WOODRUFF ON BEING A LEADER ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE:

(Woodruff) “Last year I came in and everything was new. I feel like the MIAA didn’t really get to see the best version of me. As we get rolling, people are going to realize how good I am.”

WRIGHT ON SARWINSKI AND WOODRUFF AS LEADERS:

(Wright) “When you look at leadership, you look at preparation. These guys prepare as well as anyone on our football team. Then you look at performance. These guys perform as well as anyone on our football team. Kory had a good year last year, but we know we haven’t seen the best version yet. You look at PJ – from walking on to this team, to earning a scholarship, becoming an All-American and then being voted as a captain. What a model that is to our program and our community, to see that hard work pays off if you stick to something and work hard and have a great attitude. PJ is a testament to that.”

SARWINSKI ON LOCAL FANS, BEING A LOCAL KID:

(Sarwinski) “We do the Gorilla Walk every home game. I see the kids and I think of myself. I think of a kid from Galena, Baxter Springs, Girard, Pittsburg or wherever…who wants to grow up and be a Gorilla. It’s so surreal, and it’s a dream come true to be where I’m at.”

WRIGHT FINAL STATEMENT:

(Wright) “We’re excited to get started. Myself and this staff have been chomping at the bit to get back to working with these guys. This group is eager and they’ve been committed to doing what we’re asking them to do. It’s always an exciting time when we get back in the meeting room together and get on the field together and start working. That process and that journey is the most rewarding thing as a coach.”