Billy Embody: What is LSU getting in Matt Canada? What makes him so good?
Jerry DiPaola: "I think Canada came in and he saw what he had with the experience in the wide receiving group, he had to find innovative ways to move the football and score points. This jet sweep thing, he did it at Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and at Pittsburgh because he had the receivers that could do it. You need a lot of speed on that jet sweeps to make that work. Then he used fullback George Aston on quick hits and he was actually running away from Miami defensive backs because the way Nathan Peterman was running the offense, they were ahead of the game. He's a smart guy. He finds a way to get it done and finds different ways to do that."
BE: What type of a guy is Matt Canada?
JD: "He's the kind of guy that screams and yells and gets in guys faces if you don't run something a certain way. That's just in the first half hour of practice that we're allowed to watched. When we talked to Nathan Peterman over the summer, he thought they were going to do some really interesting things on offense, some things they weren't used to and that turned out to be true. We've talked to Canada a couple times through summer and then we talked to him before the Clemson game and then two weeks later. He's very good, good talker, good quote, thoughtful, little guarded, but pretty normal as far as coaches go with in that respect. I thought he was a good guy."
BE: Does he adapt his offense each year to his personnel? Can it completely change year-to-year?
JD: "Pitt's tight end I think was the leading receiver with number of catches. When he was at North Carolina State, his tight ends were the preferred passing options. They made some really good catches and big gainers in games this year especially the Clemson game. He really adapts to what he has. When Todd Graham came in five years ago with his speed-based offense, he tried to adapt that offense to a bunch of kids that weren't used to it. I thought his offense was really good this year. Peterman came on late in the year to play really, really well. He was one of the best in passer efficiency with just six interceptions. Connor was a 1,000-yard rusher and most of his touchdowns in the redzone. They ran the ball well and threw the ball really well especially late in the year. Bryan O'Neil won the Piesman Trophy which is a knockoff on the Heisman Trophy for offensive lineman. We've never seen an offensive lineman score in my time at Pitt. He really adapts his offense and picks up different things. Several of his wide receivers were used in the running game. I think Canada's best quote was, "we have the kind of offense that scores points."
BE: So you'd call him pretty innovative?
JD: "Absolutely. He adapts and I'm sure he's looking forward to getting all that speed at LSU. He had some at Pitt, but I'm sure he's going to have more at LSU."
BE: What's he like as a recruiter? Do you know much?
JD: "Not much. He didn't get hired until after the first of this year. He was involved in recruiting this year. They had a quarterback in this 2017 class. I can't tell you he's a great recruiter because he hasn't been here long enough."
BE: Do you think he has aspirations to be a head coach and what might have lead to him moving on to LSU even with his good friend Pat Narduzzi as coach?
JD: "He's young. I don't think he turns 45 until next year. We asked him about that a couple weeks ago and he said if he doesn't become a head coach, he won't consider his career a failure, but I think it was pretty obvious that he'd like to be a head coach. If he continues to have success, I think he'll be able to do that. He's been an offensive coordinator at four or five schools, but he's also been at five schools in seven years.
It was very convenient that he got fired at NC State when his buddy Pat Narduzzi had an opening. Narduzzi was even asked about it late in the season saying that the administration would step up and make him stay. I think there's some reasons that didn't happen. Money being one of them. The atmosphere here is pretty good when it's Notre Dame, West Virginia or Penn State. Anybody else, they had a Thursday night game against North Carolina and it was mediocre. Even after they beat Clemson, they came home for two games and couldn't attract 40 thousand. It's tough to keep good people because of that."
BE: What can Danny Etling expect as how he's going to be developed and how he can take them to the next level?
JD: "Canada is going to demand excellence not just on the field, but in the film room. He's a stickler for details. If his footwork is off, calling plays a certain way with voice inflection. Those are big things for Canada and he's going to expect his quarterbacks whoever they are to be detail oriented and do things just the way he wants them done. He'll scream at them in practice. He's done that a few times in practice and doesn't accept half-ass effort in practice. He seems to be a good guy though. The players seem to like him. I never heard any complaints about them. They all get along with him, but he's a stickler for details and that's what the LSU quarterbacks will need to expect from him."