#67 Pittsburgh Football 2012 Preview

Pittsburgh Panthers

2012 Overall Rank # 67
#6 Big East Conference
Pittsburgh College Football 2012 Team Preview
Pittsburgh Team Page


The Panthers have had a head coaching debacle that is well documented, including the hiring of Todd Graham, now with Arizona State, but seemed to have found their fix in former Wisconsin Badgers offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst. Widely regarded as one of the nation’s premier offensive coordinators, Chryst is the right man for the job and will begin his journey of turning around the Panthers immediately. It is never easy on the players or good for the program to have so much turmoil in the coaching staff, but Chryst will look to smooth things over and develop the Panthers into the powerful program they believe they can become.

2011 Record: (6-7, 4-3)
2011 Bowl: BBVAA Compass Bowl vs Southern Methodist (L 6-28)
Coach: Paul Chryst (0-0 at Pittsburgh, 0-0 overall)   
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Rudolph
Defensive Coordinator:  Dave Huxtable

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ray Graham, RB, 958 yards  
Passing: Tino Sunseri, QB, 2,616 yards  
Receiving: Devin Street, WR, 754 yards
Tackles: Jarred Holley, S, 67
Sacks: Aaron Donald, DT, 11.0
Interceptions: Five tied with 1

Other Key Returnees:  WR Mike Shanahan, TE Hubie Graham

Key Losses:  DL Aaron Donald, LB Max Gruder, DL Brandon Lindsey

The Panthers have the potential to be an excellent offense, bringing back their major weapons at the skill positions and the triggerman, Tino Sunseri. They have the talent to be extremely balanced and, with Paul Chryst as the head coach, you know they will be. This team will be very difficult to stop behind the ultra talented Ray Graham and the balanced attack that will be employed. Their receivers are growing with experience, but for opponent’s sake, hopefully not in height, as they already boast some of the tallest receivers in the nation. This makes their outside passing game difficult to defend because their receivers can out jump opponents on a regular basis. This should allow for an efficient passing attack with a minimal number of interceptions. That concoction, mixed with a powerful running game, as anyone who followed Wisconsin football knows, was the Badger’s recipe for success. Now it will also be the Panthers.

The Panthers defense was one of the best in the nation a season ago, but they are graduating many of their top players. Retooling the defensive line will be their top priority. Their biggest weakness from a season ago was their special teams and their pass defense. Both of these aspects of the game need to be improved for the Panthers to truly compete in the Big East. Losing two sack artists from a season ago will only complicate the issues they have in the secondary, unless Aaron Donald can have another great season. Coach Chryst will look to improve the special teams, something that he knows is vital to success. Their turnover margin was also very poor a season ago, which Chryst will be all over in fixing. Limiting the amount of turnovers on the offensive side of the ball is critical, but so is forcing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers need to force more mistakes in order to be successful. Lastly, the offensive line was miserable in pass protection last season, giving up nearly five sacks per game, 120th in the nation. That will need to be fixed. It is difficult to win games when your quarterback is eating dirt that many times per contest.

The Bottom Line:
Pittsburgh will be an improved team under Paul Chryst now and most importantly in the future.  They will have their bumps and bruises this season but they have the ability to trade blows with many teams in the Big East. Their season will ultimately come down to how much they improve in the turnover department and if the offensive line can hold up in Chryst’s first year as a head coach.    

Projected Bowl: Beef O' Brady's Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 140.31 (74th in the nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 209.77 (77, 6)  
Total Offense: 350.08 (88, 4)  
Scoring Offense: 24.23 (83, 6)
Rushing Defense: 116.92 (21, 5)  
Pass Defense: 233.69 (72,4)  
Total Defense: 350.62 (35, 4)  
Scoring Defense: 22.85 (38, 5)  
Turnover Margin: -.08 (T67, 6)   
Sacks: 3.31 (3, 2)  
Sacks Allowed: 4.92 (120, 8)

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#32 Rushel Shell
#186 Chad Voytik
#233 Adam Bisnowaty