Paul Chryst is going to bring Wisconsin linebackers coach Dave Huxtable with him to Pitt as the defensive coordinator. I wrote this earlier today on Twitter and breaking news and of course, I've been met with a string of "is he bringing Theo and Rudy with him as well...."
Ha ha - it was funny the first four times, it is not funny now so do better than that if you are go there....
Now, that is big news because it means that the coordinator spots are filled, though the offensive coordinator job is little less defined.
We know that Bob Bostad is coming - he is the offensive line coach/run game coordinator at Wisconsin - and he is going to be AN offensive coordinator but we're not sure if he will be a co-offensive coordinator yet. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Wisconsin tight end coach Joe Rudolph could be coming along with Chryst as well if he is passed over for the Badgers offensive coordinator position.
If that happens, expect the titles to be something like Bob Bostad (co-offensive coordinator, offensive line) and Joe Rudolph (co-offensive coordinator, tight ends) and as we've seen with the last staff - you can have as many co-coordinators as you can come up with names for so it isn't that big of a deal.
But so far that means we know Bostad, Chris Haering (linebackers) and now Huxtable (defensive coordinator) are definitely coming so the staff should really begin to take shape in the next few days and I'd expect the majority of it to be announced early next week after the bowl game and whatnot.
Huxtable, by the way, was defensive coordinator at Central Florida and at North Carolina and has 29 years of coaching experience so it is clear he is experienced and he has been a very good defensive coach on some good staffs throughout his career.
Here are some News and Notes from Wednesday's practice:
** One interesting note that came out today from both Keith Patterson and Todd Dodge is that the Panthers will likely take it slower in the bowl game than they have all year. Both said they'd like to possess the ball and play ball control and they will look to run time off the play clock before snapping the ball. They will still be no-huddle but they will not try to snap it every 18 to 19 seconds. Patterson said the reason for this is he believes the strength of the team is the defense and he wants to keep the defense fresh and he's not afraid to play some field position. Dodge said there still be some uptempo stuff and they will still do the high octane crap when it suits them but he believes the offense might operate at its best and has operated at its best when it has been a little more patient and deliberate.
** Dodge also talked at length about Tino Sunseri and said that he expects to see Sunseri have one of his best games and mostly because, he's spent the past month scrapping all the plays that Sunseri struggled with and has focused on putting Sunseri in good situations. He said one advantage of being the quarterbacks coach is that he really has spent a lot of time with Sunseri and knows his strengths and his comfort level with certain plays and that should help.
“ What I’ve done is gone back and taken inventory of what Tino really does well,” Dodge said. “And I think I know best what he does well because I’m his quarterback coach, and I’ve, for lack of a better term, taken a conglomeration of things that he has executed and those are the things that we are going to go into the game with.
“I think there is something to be said for the guy who is calling plays to be locked into the guy who is pulling the trigger. There is a different feel for Tino right now and being able to interact with me on the sidelines is going to be key.”
** One other thing that Dodge said which I thought was interesting is that he is a big believer in sharing the wealth and he expects to play a lot of receivers and both running backs that are available will play a lot as well. He said that he has simplified the play book, taken a lot of plays out of it and focused on a high number of reps on fewer plays and he said the changes will come based on the personnel. So he may run two plays in a row that are actually the same play but look a little different or are run a little different because the personnel package is totally different. I think it is going to be interesting to see what happens with this offense - we've now heard it will be a little slower, take more shots down the field and use a lot of different personnel groupings - and that probably means it won't look any different but it is a nice thought anyway.
** Speaking of offenses it is very clear to me that the Panthers offensive players are extremely excited about playing Chryst's pro-style offense and Ryan Turnley even used the phrase "it is the system most of us were recruited to play in." And in talking to the receivers, especially Devin Street and Mike Shanahan they really are looking forward to going back to the system they say fits their talents perfectly. Remember, Shanahan was much better last year than this year and he said he just never felt comfortable in this spread system, which asks receivers to do a lot of different things in terms of blocking and route running than the pro-style offense. Shanahan and Street fit the pro-style system better and both expect to have big years again next year. The other thing about that is this - the transition should be much smoother than it was last year because most of the roster is familiar with the pro-style offense and most of the roster already has played in it so it won't be so foreign to them, like the no-huddle spread was.
** In terms of health, the Panthers will only be without one key player - tailback Zach Brown - who has been declared out for the game. Other than Brown, who has a bruised sternum, every other player who has not been declared out for the season will be available.
** The Panthers had two activities today after practice - they visited the Civil Rights Institute this afternoon and then tonight they will attend a comedy show at a local comedy club. And for those of you who have asked about the weather - it was very, very (in the low 30's) cold Tuesday but today it warmed up (in the 40's) enough where standing outside at practice wasn't brutal (though it wasn't exactly comfortable, either).