Pitt hires Canada as offensive coordinator

Matt Canada, a 24-year coaching veteran who most recently orchestrated some of the most productive offenses in NC State history, has been named offensive coordinator at Pitt by Pat Narduzzi.

Under Canada’s direction, NC State averaged more than 30 points per game each of the past two seasons. In 2015, the Wolfpack scored 33.2 points per contest, the third highest average in school history.

Canada’s Pitt appointment marks a reunion with Narduzzi. The pair worked together at Northern Illinois from 2000-02.

“I’ve known Matt and his family for a very long time and I feel very fortunate to bring him to Pittsburgh,” Narduzzi said. “Matt is an innovative offensive mind, excellent teacher of quarterback play and strong recruiter and evaluator. He is a great leader who will provide our team and staff with a real spark. Most importantly, Matt is a tremendously loyal person who will be a great fit for Pitt.”

“I’m thrilled and honored to join Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt football program,” Canada said. “I have tremendous respect for Pat as a person and professional. He truly does things the right way. Pat is building something special at Pitt and I’m ready to hit the ground running and begin contributing to the effort.”

Canada served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NC State from 2013-15. This past season, the Wolfpack produced 412.8 yards per game—the fifth highest average in school history—despite losing leading rusher Matt Dayes (108.1 yards per game) to injury for the final five games. NC State led the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranked 11th nationally in time of possession (33:03).

In 2014 NC State racked up its highest rushing total since 1977 with 2,659 yards. The Wolfpack averaged 6.0 yards per offensive play, the second-highest mark in school annals.

NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett thrived as a dual threat under Canada’s watch the past two years. Brissett threw 43 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions over his junior and senior seasons, earning the team’s MVP award each year.

In 2014 Brissett was one of just three Power 5 conference quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passing yards, 300 rushing yards, 20 passing TDs and five (or fewer) interceptions. The others were Oregon Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley.

Prior to NC State, Canada was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin during the 2012 season. Led by All-America running back Montee Ball, the Badgers averaged 236.4 rushing yards per game to rank 13th nationally. Ball, who rushed for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns, was named the recipient of the prestigious Doak Walker Award, annually presented to the nation’s top running back.

Canada’s offense exploded in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game, a 70-31 rout of Nebraska, to earn the Badgers a trip to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin had two 200-yard rushers for the first time in school history and piled up 539 yards on the ground and 640 total against the Cornhuskers.

In 2011 Canada was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for a Northern Illinois team that averaged nearly 40 points per game en route to an 11-3 record and the Mid-American Conference championship. The Huskies finished in the nation’s top 12 in scoring (12th, 38.3 ppg.), total offense (11th, 476.0 avg.) and rushing offense (12th, 234.1 avg.). Quarterback Chandler Harnish averaged 328.2 yards in total offense to rank ninth in the country and was named the MAC’s Most Valuable Player.

Canada actually had two stints at Northern Illinois, also serving on the Huskies staff from 1998-2003. He oversaw NIU’s running backs (1998-2000) and quarterbacks (2001-02) before elevating to offensive coordinator in 2003.

NIU’s 2003 team upset Alabama, Maryland and Iowa State in earning a No. 12 Associated Press ranking. Canada’s offense featured All-America running back Michael Turner, who averaged 137.3 rushing yards per game to rank second in the country.

From 2004-10 Canada coached quarterbacks at Indiana. He was the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator his final four seasons (2007-10) after serving as passing game coordinator for two years (2005-06). The 2007 Hoosiers posted a school-record 412 points en route to the Insight Bowl, the program’s first postseason game in 14 years.

Canada coached two of the most prolific quarterbacks in IU history in Ben Chappell and Kellen Lewis. The duo still ranks highly in various school passing categories. Chappell holds Indiana career records for completions (651) and completion percentage (.611), while ranking third in touchdown passes (45) and passing yards (7,251). Lewis holds the season record for touchdown passes (28) and ranks second with 48 career TD passes.

Canada is a 1993 graduate of Indiana who began his coaching career as a Hoosiers student assistant (1992-93) and graduate assistant (1994-95). He earned his first full-time coaching appointment at Butler University, where he coached quarterbacks and wide receivers in 1996 and was the offensive coordinator in 1997.