Pitt coach meets the press
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Pitt football coach Paul Chryst met with the media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics ranging from coaching changes and recruiting to how he has settled into his first head coaching job.
But the thing Chryst was clear about is that he is eager to begin the process of evaluating his players in spring football and installing a system that fits their capabilities.
That is quite a contrast from former coach Todd Graham, who insisted that his system would power the team and that the players would have to learn it and fit into it.
"You never want your system to be the thing that prevents you from playing well," Chryst said, talking about the transition from Graham's spread to his more pro-style offense.
Chryst said he has watched some film of the players and has met with many of them, but he said he would keep his thoughts to himself until he has a chance to see the team in a live practice.
That includes starting quarterback Tino Sunseri, whom Chryst said he has met. The coach said he came away from their meeting with a good feeling about Sunseri's attitude.
The coach made it clear that while he believes there is "always an open competition" for every job, Sunseri will enter spring practice as the starter, and the coaches will go from there.
"I watched enough of Tino to get a feel for him but I didn't want to form too many opinions, either," Chryst said. "But that's what I like about the spring, you have the opportunity to be with him, and all the players really, in the meetings and finding out who they are as players.
"I think with all the guys, we watch enough to get an idea of who the team was and who they are, but we don't want to have too strong of opinions off of last year."
The departure of offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bob Bostad, who took a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than a month after being hired at Pitt, wasn't a surprise, Chryst said, because Bostad always has aspired to be an NFL coach.
When Bostad was hired, Chryst knew it might be a short-term situation, so he had a contingency plan in place to promote quarterbacks coach Joe Rudolph to offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Jim Hueber to offensive line coach.
Chryst, who was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, said he expects to fill the two openings on his staff -- running backs coach and a quarterbacks coach -- by the end of the week.
Rudolph and Hueber worked under Chryst -- as did Bostad -- at Wisconsin so he said it will be a seamless transition and a team effort in terms of calling plays until the staff "evolves" and the coaches grow into their roles.
"I obviously have a lot to offer, but at the same time I want to let guys do the jobs they were hired to do, and I want to be in touch with the guys in all phases of the game as ultimately I am responsible for it all," Chryst said.
He was then asked again if he would call plays and he quipped, "Only the good ones."
Chryst said rebuilding the offensive line will be a top priority. That is an area where there isn't much depth, which is why he is excited that guard Chris Jacobson received a sixth-year of eligibility.
Chryst said only a few players will be limited for spring workouts. Todd Thomas and Ray Graham are out with knee injuries, and Jarred Holley (knee) and Mike Shanahan (back) will be limited.
"I'm pleased that [the list of injured players] is not too long," he said.
The coach added that some players would switch positions, but it was still too early to announce many personnel decisions, though he did say H-back Anthony Gonzalez and defensive back E.J. Banks will both start the spring as backup quarterbacks.
First Published February 21, 2012 6:25 pm