2012 Pittsburgh Panthers Football Preview
2011 Record: 6-7 (4-3 Big East)
Head Coach: Paul Chryst, first season
Projected Returning Starters: 15
Spring Game: April 14th
Notes: The Pittsburgh football program has had its ups and downs. Ever since the departure of Walt Harris to Stanford, the Panthers were led by Dave Wannstedt, until 2010. Wannstedt resigned at the end of the regular season. Between the 2010 bowl game and now, the Panthers have had FIVE head coaches (Phil Bennett – 2010 bowl game, Mike Haywood – 15 days, Todd Graham – 2011 season, Keith Patterson – 2011 bowl game, and Paul Chryst – current coach). Needless to say, program continuity has been an issue. Wannstedt ran more of a pro style offense, while Graham’s was a spread offense. The transition in offense probably explains the drop in wins from 2010 to 2011. To the anger of Pitt fans, Graham left for Arizona State in the offseason. Chryst, offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, takes over. He primarily ran a pro style offense, but mixed in some spread, especially last season with quarterback Russell Wilson. Chryst brings former Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger to serve as quarterbacks coach – Joe Rudolph and Dave Huxtable will serve as the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.
BVTSB Take: I’m a big believer that a veteran presence on the offensive line is important to an offense’s success. With that said, Pitt returns three starters on the offensive line (C Ryan Turnley, RG Chris Jacobson, and LG Cory King) RT Matt Rotheram started two games last season, playing in a total of nine games, before missing the last four due to an ankle injury. LT Juantez Hollins played in all 12 games and started in 7 last year. Even for Rotheram and Hollins, who weren’t starters in name last season, they have a lot of experience. Quarterback Tino Sunseri returns for his senior season, as he threw for over 2600 yards last season, completing 64.2% of his passes. With that said, his touchdown to interception ratio wasn’t good, 10-to-11. Don’t be surprised if true freshman quarterback Chad Voytik ends up with the starting job instead. After suffering a devastating injury late last season, Ray Graham should be back as the starter. He rushed for 958 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games, before suffering an injury to his knee in the Connecticut win. Wide receivers Devin Street, Mike Shanahan, and Cameron Saddler all return, as well as tight end Hubie Graham. The four leading receivers last season combined for over 1700 yards receiving, 10 of the team’s 12 touchdown catches, and 139 catches (52.9% of team receptions). Last year Pitt faced Buffalo, Maine, Iowa, Notre Dame, and Utah in non-conference, going 2-3 in those games. At the very least, Pitt should go 3-2 in games against Youngstown State, Virginia Tech, Gardner-Webb, Buffalo, and Notre Dame. Games against Temple and Rutgers at home are winnable, as are games at Connecticut and Syracuse. Games against Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida will likely determine where the Panthers fall in the Big East standings. Consider the early prediction to be on the conservative side – things can change depending on the quarterback play.
2012 Early Projection: 7-5
To see the 2012 Big East composite schedule, click here.
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