Panthers start over against Youngstown State
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Panthers open the season with a new coach for a third straight season when they host Youngstown State on Saturday night.
Paul Chryst has no intentions of making the Panthers go 4 for 4 in 2013.
The plainspoken Chryst has won over the Panthers the last eight months with a mix of bluntness and sincerity that plays in stark contrast to former coach Todd Graham's bombast. Chryst doesn't pretend to have all the answers. Ask him if he's prepared to run out of the tunnel for the first time as the guy in charge and the 46-year-old shrugs his shoulders.
"I don't know," he said. "You try to think through every scenario, but until you go through it I don't know if I can really answer that."
Chryst would prefer his team do the talking for him. Pitt is coming off an erratic — not to mention melodramatic — season in which the Panthers announced they were splitting for the ACC, went 6-6 during the regular season then had Graham bolt west barely 11 months into the job.
Lost amid the coaching chaos, according to Youngstown State coach Eric Wolford, is that the Panthers were pretty good at times.
"I think a lot of people may have paid more attention to the things that went on with all the coaching changes as opposed to what kind of quality team it is," Wolford said.
One that hopes to be healthier this fall. Running back Ray Graham, who missed the second half of the 2011 season with a knee injury, is nearly all the way back. The senior is a gametime decision, though Chryst hinted he'll likely be cautious with how quickly he brings Graham along.
"One thing we've talked about is we're going to err and rather play him a day late than a day too soon," Chryst said. "So we'll just keep talking to Ray and see how he's doing. Surely, I think we're a better team with him, but I want to make sure we're doing what's best for him."
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