The grueling part of Pittsburgh‘s spring practice schedule is now behind the Panthers, and head coach Paul Chryst seems to be pretty happy with the state of his program as they prepare for their first season as a member of the ACC. But even the second year head coach of Pitt realizes there is plenty of progress to be made as the Panthers make the conference transition.
“We’ve got a long summer,” Chryst said in a story published by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ve got to really make a lot of hay in the summertime. But before we get to that, we’ve got to finish this week out.”
Much of the spring has been overshadowed by the dilemma following running back Rushel Shell, who is looking to transfer but is being limited in options due to restrictions placed by Pittsburgh. The debate over whether or not Pittsburgh is right to limit where a player transferring may or may not go continues to wage as it has with other schools and players, but Chyrst is locking down on the players that will be lining up for his team in the fall.
The biggest concern for Chryst is roster depth. On Friday night the coaching staff will get one final look this spring at their options to run the football with Shell transferring out of the program, but fans should also be wondering who steps up in the receiving game. The Panthers seem pretty set with Tom Savage leading the offense, and Devin Street is a lock for a starting job in the open field after ranking among the Big East leaders in receiving yards in 2012, but who will join him?
There are a few upperclassmen to follow, but now could be the time for Chris Wuestner to step up and emerge as a playmaker who comes back from injury in 2013 with a lot of potential. As the Panthers move in to a tougher conference, having as many steady hands on offense with the ability to break a big play will be a must for a team that has struggled to find consistency on offense the past couple of years.
Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 26.6 points per game last season. If they want to be able to keep up the pace in the ACC, that scoring production will have to get better. Six ACC schools averaged at least 30 points per game in 2012, and seven ACC schools had a higher scoring average than the Panthers. Pittsburgh has the defense to slow things down a little bit, but whether or not they have an offense capable of staying competitive in year one in the ACC remains to be seen.
Follow Kevin McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.