NCAA Football: Delaware at Pittsburgh

Paul Chryst, the Pitt offensive days

As the news settles in that Paul Chryst is returning to Madison, Wis. it’s time to also familiarize ourselves with who Chryst is. Sure, you may think you remember him or know what he’s all about but even we were surprised by some of the things we’ve found.

We’ve been looking back at Paul Chryst’s days at Wisconsin, his potential defensive situation and it is only right we come full circle by looking at how things have gone at Pitt. You know, since he’s the one calling the plays on gameday and all.

Let’s take a look at the overall numbers for the Panthers since he took over in 2012.

Year Scoring Off. Rushing Off. Passing Off. Total Off.
2012 26.6 (4th/76th) 133.1 (5th/94th) 257.0 (3rd/46th) 390.1 (4th/71st)
2013 26.3 (8th/79th) 125.7 (12th/103rd) 236.5 (8th/61st) 362.2 (12th/98th)
2014 31.7 (6th/50th) 251.3 (3rd/16th) 182.9 (11th/105th) 434.3 (3rd/45th)

While the numbers may not overwhelm in the first two seasons, one needs to only remember what was happening at Pitt. Chryst was faced with a roster full of Todd Graham spread attack players, and that meant a long transition through the roster to get his style and his player in the system.

In 2012, Chryst took a senior quarterback named Tino Sunseri and worked some magic. Sunseri finished with a career-high 3,288 yards and 21 touchdowns, while throwing for just three interceptions and completed 65.1 percent of his passes.

The Panthers also had a 1,000-yard back in senior Ray Graham, who also averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns.

2013 was all about transition, with a new quarterback and a new running back in the fold. Despite that, Chryst took senior Tom Savage and had him throw for over 2,900 yards and 21 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Savage completed 61.2 percent of his passes, and we got a glimpse of a future start at wide receiver in Tyler Boyd.

Boyd would finish his first year with 85 receptions and 1,174 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. He would further that star power this season, as he’s got 69 receptions for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore.

The one area that Pitt struggled to get star power going at in 2013 was at running back, where a near 50-50 split happened between freshman James Connor and junior Isaac Bennett. The duo combined for just over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, so it wasn’t all bad.

However, the Panthers would find the answer in the offseason, and this year James Connor became a viable running back on his own. He rushed for 1,675 yards to lead the ACC in total yards and per game average.

What does it all mean?

Considering all the crazy roster transition and need to get players of his own in the system, it shows that Chryst is a great evaluator of talent and mastering the ability to get the most out of what is front of him.

Having two of three seasons with 1,000-yard running backs to go along with all three quarterbacks over 2,000 yards (with a different quarterback starting every year) should also tell you a lot.

Then factor in the move from the Big East to the ACC, and not seeing any drop off in production and you have to be impressed with what he was doing given the talent available to him at the time.

There’s also the ability to recruit some very talented players like James Connor at running back and Tyler Boyd at wide receiver. It just proves Chryst and his staff have what it takes to find the right players no matter where they are coaching.

Wisconsin could sure use a Tyler Boyd-like player at wide receiver, that’s for sure.

So, while the raw numbers may not compare to what was happening at Wisconsin when Chryst left, they also prove he can do some good things without the name of Wisconsin to rely on.

Put Chryst back together with the players on the Badgers roster and the bigger recruiting footprint and name that comes with coaching at UW and Chryst’s offenses will be more than just fine in the coming years.

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