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New Pitt football coach Chryst looks to capitalize on team's talent

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Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012

In a dramatic reversal from how his predecessor conducted business, Pitt football coach Paul Chryst said Tuesday he will design his offensive system to suit the talents of his players.

"You never want the system to be the thing that prevents you from playing well," he said.

Under former coach Todd Graham, who insisted on adherence to his no-huddle, speed-based offense, quarterback Tino Sunseri and teammates stumbled to a 6-7 record last season.

Chryst said he plans to open competition at all positions.

"But if you are a starter and if you are getting better, you probably still should be a starter," he said.

The quarterback position will be crowded in the spring. Anthony Gonzalez and Montour graduate E.J. Banks will move from H-back and defensive back, respectively, to their high school positions, at least temporarily, and join Sunseri, Mark Myers and Trey Anderson.

"It will be hard (to get everyone enough reps)," he said. "It's going to have to sort itself out."

Chryst said he has watched video from last season, but he prefers to evaluate players based on what he sees when spring practice begins March 15.

"I watched enough of Tino to get a feel for him a little bit, but I didn't want to spend too much time," he said. "I don't want to form too many opinions. That's what we have spring ball for."

Chryst said he has met with most of the players, including Sunseri, but he refused to divulge details of those talks.

"I think he likes the game," Chryst said. "We will get into greater detail (later). But there is nothing I see, 'Oh, there's a red flag.' I am looking forward to actually working with him."

He added that his pro-style offense is not unlike what the players learned under former coach Dave Wannstedt.

In other news, Chryst said he was prepared for the departure of former offensive coordinator Bob Bostad, who aspired to join the NFL before he resigned last week to take a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chryst had a contingency plan to promote Joe Rudolph to coordinator and Jim Hueber to offensive line coach.

"I feel really good about not missing a beat," said Chryst, who plans to name quarterbacks and running backs coaches before the end of the week.

He added that everyone will be involved in play-calling.

"As we grow as a staff, it will continue to evolve," he said. "I still plan on being involved there but also hiring people to do their job and (letting) them to their jobs."

Asked if he will call the plays, he said, "Only the good ones."

Notes: Chryst said a few players will be limited or unavailable in the spring after undergoing surgical procedures. Running back Ray Graham (knee) and linebacker Todd Thomas (knee) will be out, and receiver Mike Shanahan (back), safety Jarred Holley (knee) and guard Chris Jacobson (knee) will be limited. ... The spring game will be April 14 at Heinz Field.

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