Chryst’s most important hire will be defensive coordinator

Earlier today we took a look back at expected (just formally not announced) new Badgers head coach Paul Chryst’s second stint as offensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Most of us remember how things ended there, and it was glorious to say the least.

However, there is one big mystery in the hire of Chryst — just what the Badgers defense will look like. Will Chryst stick with a defensive scheme in the 3rd part of a transition to the 3-4 or will he go the route of what was happening at Pitt?

If he choses the latter over the former, then it would be wise to look at his defenses at Pitt for answers as to what we could expect at Wisconsin.

So, let’s explore that area shall we?

First, Chryst has had to hire two defensive coordinators in his three-year stint at Pitt. He originally went with Dave Huxtable for the 2012 season, a name UW fans know from his time as linebacker coach in 2011.

Huxtable’s 2012 Pitt defense gave up 21.1 points per game (4th in Big East, 23rd nationally), 136.3 rushing yards per game (4th, 32nd), 194.2 passing yards per game (2nd, 20th) and 330.5 total yards per game (3rd, 17th).

The next year Huxtable was off to join Dave Doeren’s staff at N.C. State and Chryst brought in another 4-3 defensive coach in Matt House. House’s resume contains both college and professional coaching experience, including a stint as a graduate assistant at Michigan State.

In 2013, the Pitt defense gave up 27.2 points per game (11th in ACC, 70th nationally), 149 rushing yards per game (6th, 44th), 218.5 passing yards per game (4th, tie-44th) and 367.5 total yards per game (6th, 33rd).

Year two under House showed some improvement, as the Panthers defense gave up fewer points per game (25.6), fewer passing yards per game (192.7) and fewer total yards per game (349.3).

While decent numbers, they are nothing that will blow you away. Those numbers won’t cut it in the Big Ten, and while House may be a guy that works at Pitt it’s doubtful his hire would inspire confidence from the fans.

Even when you consider the numbers came at Pitt, the Badgers expect great defense on a year-in, year-out basis.

The Badgers were a top 10 defense in every major statistical category during the 2014 regular season, and there will be a lot of turnover on the roster this coming year as well. You’ll see four of the front seven move on and Darius Hillary leave from the secondary.

It puts the new defensive coordinator in a tricky spot, no matter who it is.

It also shows us that this could be the hire that defines just how successful the Badgers can be under Paul Chryst early on in his tenure as head coach.

Dare we say, it could be the single most important hire he makes?

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site