LSU has reportedly agreed to terms with Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada for the same position.
This comes after top target Lane Kiffin accepted a head coaching job with Florida Atlantic University and Canada spent the early part of this week interviewing with first-year Tigers coach Ed Orgeron.
Canada has helped lead multiple offenses to great marks in the Big Ten and ACC. He’ll have his work cut out for him trying to revitalize the oft-criticized LSU offense.
Here are 10 things to know about the offensive coordinator target:
- Statistical excellence: The Pittsburgh offense ranked among the nation’s best in several key statistical categories. Under Canada in 2016, the Panthers ranked 10th in scoring offense (42.3 points per game) and 42nd in total offense (447.5 yards per game). More specifically, the team ranked 79th in passing offense (217.8 yards per game) and 26th in rushing offense (229.75 yards per game).
- Broyles Award finalist: Pitt scored a school-record 508 points this past season and is on pace to shatter the previous mark of 40.7 points per game. That record has stood since 1904. The Panthers are averaging 14 points per game more and have scored at least 28 points in every game with Canada calling the plays. He finished as a Broyles Award finalist in his first season with the school.
- Quarterback guru: Canada also worked as Pitt’s quarterbacks coach and has done wonders with whoever has been under center for him. This season, Nathan Peterman had 26 touchdown passes, just six interceptions and led the ACC with a 161.2 quarterback ratio. That was better than Deshaun Watson (154.0) and Lamar Jackson (153.3).
- Success vs. the best: Much of Pitt’s damage has come against the league’s best. In his last two outings against Clemson as offensive coordinator for N.C. State and Pitt, his teams have scored 11 touchdowns. Of course, his last outing against Clemson was a Pitt victory.
- The resume: Canada has had stints with Pitt, N.C. State, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and Indiana. Among the highlights:
- Coaching Wisconsin RB James White, Montee Ball and Doak Walker winner Melvin Gordon. In 2012, Wisconsin had two 200-yard rushers and the offense amassed 640 yards vs. Nebraska to advance to the Rose Bowl.
- In 2014, Canada helped mold Jacoby Brissett at N.C. State. The dual-threat quarterback threw 43 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions in his final two seasons and was one of three Power 5 quarterbacks with 2,000 passing yards, 300 rushing yards, 20 passing touchdowns and five or fewer picks in a season.
- Under Canada’s direction, N.C. State averaged more than 30 points per game in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, N.C. State averaged 33.2 points, the third-highest average in program history.
- The philosophy: Canada describes his offensive philosophy as “creatively simplistic.” That’s a reflection of the scoring points with the type of players he has at his disposal. In a way, he is a lot like the offensive version of Dave Aranda — trying to cause confusion for opposing defenses.
- Giving weapons opportunities: One of the staples of Canada’s play calling is the use of screens and bubble passes. That requires a quarterback with pinpoint accuracy. It also involves a lot of big-play threats at wide receiver and running back, something LSU has no shortage of.
- Multiple sets: Don’t expect a universal formation or one style of offense under Canada. At different times this season, Pitt has utilized single-back sets, multiple tight ends or wide receivers, two-back sets and uneven line formations. Often, his quarterback will audible at the line of scrimmage and adjust to what he sees from the defense.
- Dual-threat quarterbacks: From Wisconsin to N.C. State to Pitt, Canada has made use of quarterbacks that can beat offenses with both their arm and their legs. Here’s a sample size of his work since 2012.
- 2012 (Wisconsin): Quarterbacks Danny O’Brien, Curt Phillips and Joel Stave combined for 2,167 passing yards and 53 rushing yards.
- 2013 (N.C. State): Quarterbacks Pete Thomas and Brandon Mitchell combined for 2,678 passing yards and 437 rushing yards. They threw for 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and rushed for four scores.
- 2014-15 (N.C. State): Jacoby Brissett threw for 5,268 yards and 43 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He rushed for 899 yards and nine touchdowns.
- 2016 (Pitt): Nathan Peterman passed for 2,606 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions. He rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Both were career-highs.
- Pay day: Canada is believed to be making less than $1 million annually with the Panthers. After Aranda received a hefty raise and extension from the team earlier this month, it would likely be the same fate for Canada. Don’t expect Canada’s raise to rival Aranda’s — as it might have been for Kiffin — but he would probably see his salary balloon to the $1 million mark or close to it if the Tigers hire him.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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