Former Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada hired by Steelers

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In Matt Canada’s one season overseeing the Pitt offense, the Panthers set a school record by averaging 42 points per game.

By Trent Leonard, Sports Editor

Former Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada is returning to the Steel City.

Just not in the way Panther fans might hope.

Canada, who orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in Pitt football history during his lone season in 2016, was hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterbacks coach Wednesday morning.

Before Wednesday, the Steelers were one of four teams in the NFL that didn’t employ a full-time quarterbacks coach. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner previously occupied the role before taking over play-calling duties in 2017.

Canada served previous stints as quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator for Butler (1997), Northern Illinois (2001-03, 2011), Indiana (2004-10), Wisconsin (2012), NC State (2013-15), Pitt (2016), LSU (2017) and Maryland (2018). The Steelers’ job will be his first in the NFL.

Though he spent just one season at Pitt, Canada left his mark by devising one of the most high-powered offenses in school history. The Panthers set a school record by averaging 42 points per game, ranking No. 6 nationally in scoring offense.

Under Canada’s scheme, which emphasizes pre-snap motion and misdirection, the Panthers achieved their only victory in the renewed four-game series against Penn State, ousting the Nittany Lions 42-39. Pitt also scored 43 points in an upset over the eventual national champion Clemson Tigers, and famously scored 76 points in a high-scoring romp of Syracuse.

Through the Panthers’ 12 regular-season games in 2016, they never scored less than 28 points. The 2019 Panthers, for comparison, scored over 28 just three times in the regular season.

Perhaps Canada’s greatest testament in quarterback coaching can be seen in former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman. As a senior in 2016, Peterman threw for a career-high 2,855 yards, 27 touchdowns and 9.3 yards per attempt. His performance earned him a spot in the NFL when the Buffalo Bills selected him with the 171st overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Without Canada’s guidance, however, Peterman became one of the worst statistical passers in NFL history. He infamously threw five interceptions in the opening half of his first NFL start, eventually setting the league record for most interceptions thrown in under 100 passing attempts. Peterman’s career NFL passing stats include three touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 32.5 quarterback rating.

37-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely nearing retirement and the Steelers backup quarterbacks averaged a league second-worst 186.3 passing yards per game in 2019, meaning the Steelers need all the help they can get in the quarterback department.

With his highly touted football mind and heavy experience coaching quarterbacks, Canada should have a positive impact on the Steelers. Pitt fans can testify just how much he can help a struggling offense.

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