When hired, Anson wrote a tremendous article introducing you to Pitt's new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. Now that practice time is being used to install the offense Canada will run, I wondered how Pitt would do in his first year. We went back to his first seasons as an offensive coordinator at his previous places of employment to see how his offenses performed. As a brief PSA here, this does not guarantee how the offense will look one way or another. As Anson wrote previously, temper your expectations. This is a new offense and there will be a learning curve.
Some of what you will read next will give reason for optimism while other parts might give you some concern. The truth of what will happen this coming fall with Canada at the helm probably lies somewhere in the middle. Canada's first coordinator job was with Butler University in 1997 and since that was only an FCS program, we'll jump ahead to 2003 where Canada took over as Northern Illinois' coordinator.
Canada moved the 27th ranked offense up one spot to No. 26 in total offense. That didn't last long before he moved on to Indiana in 2004 and took over as offensive coordinator slot in 2007. In his first year in that role, the Hoosiers saw a large increase in scoring, moving from 79th to 39th in total offense on his watch. Passing, rushing, and total points all improved in his first year.
One thing to note here is that before Canada became the coordinator at Butler, Northern Illinois, and Indiana, he worked his way up from position coaching jobs. Canada had some time grow into that role at each spot.
In his next three jobs, Canada was hired directly as an offensive coordinator, resembling the process that brought him to the Panthers for the upcoming season.
In 2011, Canada arrived back at Northern Illinois and had more success there. The offense fell only slightly, going from 12th to 10th when he was there, but under Canada, the point totals and and passing offense saw a slight uptick in their totals. In all, he did a good job there.
Things were a little less stellar at his last two stops, however.
Canada spent a single year there in 2012 and the offense dropped from sixth in the nation all the way to 59th as he replaced Paul Chryst. That can give you some pause, but in fairness, Wisconsin was a well oiled machine with Russell Wilson at the helm in 2011 and he left prior to Canada's tenure there so the program was replacing a starting quarterback.
After leaving there, Canada again struggled to break in at North Carolina State, too. In 2013, his first year on the job, the Wolfpack went from an already bad No. 70 in total offense to No. 95 under Canada. The rushing offense was better but North Carolina State scored fewer points per game and passed for fewer yards as well.
Things ended up pretty good overall during his tenure with the Wolfpack, though. In 2014, the team rushed for 2,659 yards - the most they ran for in nearly 40 years. North Carolina State also averaged six yards per offensive play - the second highest number in school history. In 2015, the offense was again solid. While it wasn't stellar, Canada's unit scored 33.2 points per game, good for 42nd in the nation and up considerably from when he inherited the job.
Overall, Canada has the look of a solid hire. He's not only had some past success, but also has 11 years of experience in that role. One encouraging thing is that Canada does like to run the ball and that's something Pitt often relies upon. With Pitt returning one of their best offensive lines in recent memory and a stable of running backs that can do it all, this is a positive for Pitt. Still, expectations must be tempered as the program is still evolving under head coach Pat Narduzzi and Canada loses the offense's best player from last year in wide receiver Tyler Boyd.