We have had some great long discussions about the QB situation at PITT and no matter how hard we wish, or how long we hold our breath, things will shake out as they may. Given that the chances are that Sunseri starts on September 1st against Youngstown State, or that whoever starts our passing game isn’t going to be all that awesome, let’s look at what Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph might do to accommodate those shortcomings.
I’ve read a lot of posters saying “Thank God for our running game!!” and we all know that could be our strongest offensive approach. Some fans have said they think Chryst will do nothing but run the ball and throw only when absolutely necessary. Some feel the percentage of running plays would be as high as 70%, which I thought was crazy so I did a bit of research.
Honestly, 70% may not be so ridiculous…
Depending on his personnel Paul Chryst, as OC at Wisconsin, tailored his play calling to work to his player’s strengths. That is a good thing and something that was drastically missing for the Panthers last year.
For instance, in 2011 with Heisman trophy candidate Russell Wilson at QB, you would think that Chryst relied heavily on Wilson’s good passing abilities. That really didn’t happen. Chryst had about 65/35% run heavy split last season. It didn’t hurt that he had Monte’ Ball (1923 yds; 6.3 ypc) and James White (713 yds; 5.1 ypc) running the ball either though.
In 2010 with Scott Tolzien at QB, who had a statistically similar year to Sunseri’s 2010, Chryst ran a 68/32% run first split. That year he had White (1052 yds; 6.7 ypc); Ball (996 yds; 6.1 ypc and John Clay (1012 yds, 5.4 ypc). Those are some serious horses in the backfield and that is a big ground presence.
In Tolzien’s first year starting, 2009, Chryst ran the ball 59% of the time. His RBs weren’t crazy productive as the next year but they still had Clay go for 1517 yds for 5.3 ypc average.
That is also a lot different than we saw in 2011 at PITT when we had a 55/45% split with Graham in the backfield and back in 2010 (Lewis & Graham) when under DW we ran a 57/43% split. With Stull having his good SR year in 2009 (Lewis) we went 59/41%. In 2008 with McCoy having his big year we went 56/44% to the run.
Looking back at DW’s offense I was surprised that they were so much more balanced.
Now, with Graham coming back, Bennett coming into his own and a decent chance that Shell will be able to contribute right away, we’ll probably see Chryst lean heavily on the running game. Maybe not a full 70% but that wouldn’t be too much of a reach given his track record at Wisconsin.