Monday, December 5, 2011

Comparing Graham's First Season with Wannstedt's First and Last Season

This is not to disparage former head coach Dave Wannstedt in any way though I'm sure it will look like it.  This is just to show that Todd Graham's first season actually compares to Wannstedt's first year very much, and maybe even more surprising to many people, his first year also compares nicely to Wannstedt's last season.

Total offense:

Wannstedt (2005)  335.8 yards per game
Wannstedt  (2010)  366.9
Graham   (2011)    362.2

Scoring Offense:

Wannstedt (2005)   24.3 ppg
Wannstedt  (2010)   26.3
Graham  (2011)       25.8

Summary-  As you can see, even with all of the ugliness of Pitt's offense this season, they still were significantly better on offense than in Wannstedt's first season and nearly as good as Wannstedt's team in his sixth season.  And this is with practically no QB, no OL, and no WRs, and injuries to Ray Graham, Chris Jacobson, Lucas Nix, and Cam Saddler.  If that doesn't show you the potential of this offense than I don't know what does.

Total Defense:

Wannstedt (2005)  338.0 yards per game
Wannstedt  (2010)  305.1
Graham   (2011)   354.8

Scoring Defense:

Wannstedt  (2005)  22.1
Wannstedt  (2010)  19.0
Graham  (2011)   22.4

Summary:  Wannstedt's teams were more conservative.  He liked to give up as little yards as possible and he just didn't want to get beat with big plays. Graham likes to have big plays with turnovers, sacks, and tackles in the backfield, and with that style he knows he gives up more yards, as the evidence shows.  But here's the interesting part.  In the last six games the Panther defense gave up 319.2 yards per game and 21.2 ppg.

Turnovers Gained:

Wannstedt (2005)  20
Wannstedt  (2010)  22
Graham (2011)  20


Wannstedt (2005)  21
Wannstedt (2010)  34
Graham (2011)   39

Tackles for Loss:

Wannstedt (2005)  53
Wannstedt (2010)  73
Graham (2011)  91

Summary:  Graham wants big plays on defense and even though the turnover numbers were right on line with Wannstedt's teams, they once again flourished once they got the hang of the defense as they had 13 of their 20 turnovers in just the last four games.  Sacks and total losses were light years ahead of Wannstedt's teams.

Penalty Yards Per Game:

Wannstedt (2005)  53.9
Wannstedt  (2010)  54.8
Graham  (2011)  40.8

Summary:  Want a disciplined team?  Again, Graham's team is light years ahead of Wannstedt's first or last seasons.

Records vs. FBS teams:

Wannstedt  (2005)   4-6
Wannstedt  (2010)  6-5
Graham  (2011)   5-6

Number of FBS opponents with a winning record:

Wannstedt  (2005)   5 out of 10
Wannstedt  (2010)  9 out of 11
Graham (2011)   7 out of 11

FBS Opponents winning %

Wannstedt (2005)  55.2%
Wannstedt  (2010)  56.7%
Graham (2011)   55.3%

Summary:  As you can see, any argument that Pitt somehow played a worse schedule this season is not factual.  Their schedule is right in line as Wannstedt's first and last season.  And people can't say that it's because Pitt played in a weaker Big East because when you look at the out of conference high major opponents in Wannstedt's last season, they had a combined 23-14 record.  This season, Graham's Panthers also had three high major out of conference opponents and the combine record was 22-14.  Both coaches lost all three of those games.

What does all of this mean:

Well, to me, it shows that Graham promised excellent offense and a highly opportunistic defense.  While the offense was not what everybody expected, it showed just how promising it can be with the right players.  In fact, here is the most amazing stat of all.  The Panthers have played five games since the Rutgers debacle and since then their offense has averaged 390.2 yards per game, way more than all but one of Wannstedt's team, the 2009 10-3 team that averaged 391.6 yards per game.  And Ray Graham had exactly two carries in those five games.  That's a lot of mediocrity out there to get that many yards.  This offense has some serious potential.

On defense, I already stated that the defense made huge strides with 13 turnovers in the last four games and a superb 319.2 yards per game over the last six games.  That would be good enough for 19th in the country.  By the way, did I mention that the Panthers also had 14 sacks and 39 tackles for loss in the first six games and 25 sacks and 49 tackles for loss in the last six games?

Bottom line, this team got better despite major injuries, especially on defense, but even more amazingly they put up big numbers on offense.  Imagine the yardage total and points when they don't lead the country in sacks allowed.


  1. Impossible! You info is obviously incorrect.

    I keep reading message board posts that Todd Graham has to be fired.


  2. Was there a considerable increase in the number of opponents' possessions this year? If so, what do points per possession look like? (Is that even a worthwhile statistic to look at?)

  3. I look forward to this analysis in 2013. Hopefully, we will enjoying much success, better stats, and a relevant BCS bowl game.

    Excuse me if I don't hold my breath.

  4. Good analysis. But keep in mind "FCS" above should actually be "FBS".

  5. In his first year Wannstedt had a lot better quarterback, Palko, than Graham has had this year. If TG had at least a decent QB he would have won several of the close games.

  6. Chris:

    Any chance we land Dayne Christ? He's apparently available...this seems like a no brainer to me for Graham to put a full court press on Christ to come to Pitt...He's better than Tino by leaps and bounds and would give Voytik a year to grow, learn and mature...The link below says he's been given his release...

  7. I wrote about transfer QBs a few days ago, including Crist. He's not a good fit for the offense, but the offense can always be tweaked. He would definitely be an upgrade in my opinion, even with his shortcomings. And he has a lot to prove. But I think he will look for an offense that better fits his skill set, and he should have good options. I would be surprised if he chose Pitt for those reasons.

  8. Chris: Can you handicap Pitt's chances of landing Crist or someone of his caliber? I would think Pitt would be a good opportunity for one of these 1-year and done guys, given tht they would have to feel confident about their chances to win the starting job away from Tino...Isn't playing their #1 goal, not necessarily what offense fits them best? If I want to start, I'm thinking beating Tino out of a job may be my best chance....thoughts?

  9. It's too early to say whether or not Pitt will come up with any of these better transfers. The last time I talked to a Pitt coach was about a week ago, and he knew of Crist and the kid from Wake Forest, who frankly is worse than Sunseri. I told him of Katz at Oregon State and Jacob Karan at Texas Tech because he didn't know about them. And the last I heard, he was going to inform Graham about them. So to say it's in the very early stages would be true. First, they will have to see if one of them will be an improvement, then they will have to try to get that player. And Crist, Katz, and Karan will have other suitors so Pitt will have to really recruit. Unfortunately, I've yet to see a perfect fit for the offense.

  10. Doke ... EXCELLENT analysis ... WELL DONE.

  11. Hey Chris, nice statistical analysis. That said, statistics say what the writer wants them to say. I'll be candid. The main way I compare different years, coaches, talent, etc against each other is to look at how the team did against the lines in vegas.

    Vegas knows these teams better than we ever will. Interesting how that works, but it removes subjectivity and proves to be an accurate way to analyze team competition (strength/weakness) for that year. Vegas doesn't look at won/loss records of opponents per se'. A deep dive into the vegas lines reveals more than just average numbers for a given specialty. I like the analysis you did as previously mentioned, but it is slanted and subjective.

    Based on the numbers, TG probably would have failed miserable when you do a comparison between his first year at Pitt and his first year at Tulsa and his other first year stints.
    I do note that we didn't have a category for in game brain farts. I think wanny may have outperformed Graham in that category, but not by much. We need to realize that this is his first gig in the bigger time AQ conference. If he plays Tino Sunseri one more down, than he gets what he deserves because he will go into year three at about .500 and having to start a qb with limited to no experience. I for one am confident that he will do really well at Pitt.

    PSU, despite what everyone thinks, is headed for a downturn because they need to focus on escalating their academic institution, and put their football program on the back burner. Do you not find it odd that all of the committments to PSU haven't had second thoughts? They have no coach and all the assistants are done very soon. I agree that the Board of Trustees have to get back to academics and then slowly rebuild the football program in year 4 or 5. What do you think about PSU? I know it is not a psu blog, but there is interest here I think.

  12. Vegas knows nothing about the teams. They only set the line based on what OTHERS know, or at least think they know. It's all about perception. The lines makers merely try to find the number that will get both sides bet on evenly so that they can make money.