A deferential Paul Chryst didn't lack humility in his first Big East Media Kickoff on Tuesday. Chryst expects to lean heavily on an experienced staff to help ease his transition into the conference from the Big 10.
The Panthers' staff contains a slew of former NFL players: offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger and wide receiver coach Bobby Engram.
“My staff knows my strengths and weaknesses,” Chryst said. “By no means do I think I have all the answers, but I'm ready for the challenge."
Chryst comes to Pittsburgh after leading Wisconsin's bulldozing power-rushing attack for the last seven seasons. The Badgers' rushing offense averaged more than 235 yards per game last season. In 2011, the Panthers' offensive line struggled down the stretch after running back Ray Graham went down with a season-ending torn ACL in October. When Graham suffered the injury, he ranked second in FBS in rushing yards. At the time, he was considered a sleeper for the Heisman.
Does Graham possess hidden superpowers that will allow him to revert to pre-injury form? Graham joked on Tuesday that he thinks he's Superman, but he knows that he's not. The conference's only Walter Camp Award nominee also told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that he's looking forward to facing full contact for the first time since the injury. Graham added that he won't fully know the extent of his recovery until he participates in a full-contact practice.
Chryst wants to take a cautious approach with the senior running back in preseason camp, even alluding to the possibility of holding Graham back if needed. “I'd rather make sure he's a day late, rather than pushing it,” Chryst said.
Chryst enamored with Holley
With the proliferation of four and five wide sets, as well as the emergence of several tight ends throughout the league, safety play will be critical in 2012. Chryst will look to FS Jared Holley to lead the secondary in the upcoming season. Holley, whom Chryst described as a playmaker on Tuesday, ranked second on the team in tackles in 2011 with 67.
It is crucial for Holley to have a stellar season, as the Panthers only return one starter on the front seven. Holley earned First Team All-Big East honors in 2011 after receiving inclusion on the Second Team in 2010.
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