Sports 56 WHBlog Q

August 14, 2009

Big EAST Preview–Teams are Sitcoms

Filed under: Uncategorized — Will Askew @ 1:56 pm

Big East

In year’s past, one could argue whether or not the Big East deserved a BCS slot.  At least, though, they had West Virginia, who typically looked like it belonged in BCS games and twice played really well in them(vs. Oklahoma and vs. Georgia).  This year, there is no argument.  The Mountain West has moved way out in front of the Big East, with three consistent top 25 teams…the Big East may only have one or two by the end of the year.  Mediocrity and parity are two words that come to mind.

8.  Syracuse

On offense:  Ryan Nassib was named the starter in Spring practice, and he’s not spectacular.  Last year’s starter, senior Cameron Dantley, will come off the bench…but Greg Paulus, former Duke PG, is lurking on the bench as well.  The running backs are much of the same, with strong between the tackles runners but not much playmaking ability.  Wideout Mike Williams is a solid #1, but there’s not much else there.  The o-line is not pretty.

On defense:  This is the unit that looks like it doesn’t even belong in D-1.  Arthur Jones, at NT, is the only person on the defense with next-level ability at all.  The linebackers can’t tackle, and the secondary will get roasted by anyone who can pass.

Prediction:  2-10, 0-7 Big East

Key Player:  QB Ryan Nassib.  If the club is to even be competitive, he has to perform.

Sitcom:  Saved by the Bell.  You laugh at it because it’s so bad that it’s entertaining.

7.  Connecticut

On offense:  Last year, it was all about Donald Brown.  They did lose a senior QB in Tyler Lorenzen, and though he wasn’t great, he was a steadying senior leader.  Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon are not nearly as good as Donald Brown, but they are solid.  The receivers are green, but should be good in the future.  The o-line did lose two quality players, but Mike Hicks is very solid, as are Moe Petrus and Zach Hurd.

On defense:  The Huskies defense should be okay…the defensive line will be extremely quick and disruptive, but lacks size and will have trouble against big O-Lines.  The linebackers are really, really good, led by Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson.  The secondary should be pretty good in pass coverage, but lacks size.

Prediction:  4-8, 2-5 Big East

Key Player:  Tackles.  The inside of the o-line is really good, so if they can protect the QB from the edge, the offense should perform.

Sitcom:  Parks and Recreation.  New on the scene, and has its moments, but still just, “Eh.”

6.  Louisville

On offense:  Adam Froman, Justin Burke, and Zach Stoudt will duke it out for the starting QB job.  Major question mark.  At running back, though, the team has a very good player, sophomore Victor Anderson.  The receiving corps is solid if not spectacular, and the o-line could be a major weakness.

On defense:  This unit is really going to struggle to stop the pass.  The linebackers, led by Jon Dempsey, are the strength of the unit.  However, they’re not going to have much of a pass rush and their pass defense could be a massive hole.  They lost three starters from a secondary that ranked 92nd in pass defense nationally.

Prediction:  4-8, 2-5 Big East, Kraigthorpe fired

Key player:  Defensive ends.  Must get some sort of pass rush to make things easier on their shaky secondary.

Sitcom:   Joey.  Took something that worked on another show and spun it off onto something new, but it never worked.  Probably because you made Matt LeBlanc a main character.

5.  Pitt

On offense:  Senior QB Bill Stull, while he did start last year, is not very good.  At running back, they have to replace LeSean McCoy, who is one of the great backs in school history.  They do have some good receivers, led by soph Jonathan Baldwin and senior tight end Nate Byham.  The offensive line is a good run blocking unit, but a horrible pass blocking unit.  Gave up the most sacks in the BE last year.

On defense:  Should probably be the best defense in the Big 10, even without Scott McKillop, who graduated.  Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard are good DEs, and they’re strong at defensive tackle.  At linebacker, they’re solid, though they will struggle to replace the playmaking ability of McKillop.  The secondary is a good coverage unit, but for some reason gave up big plays in ’08.

Prediction:  7-5, 4-3 Big East

Key Player:  Bill Stull.  If he is good, they could win the BE title.

Sitcom:  Frasier.  Boring most of the time, but still very effective.

4.  West Virginia

On offense:  Gone is the best QB in school history, but it could be much worse.  Senior Jarrett Brown has a lot of experiece and provides a poor-man’s version of what White brought to the table.  While they don’t have a lot of horses in their backfield to run between the tackles, they do have lightning fast Noel Devine.  The receivers are unproven, and the o-line is as big a question as it has been in years behind the starters.  Not as explosive as it has been, but still should be tough to stop.

On defense:  The defense should be very solid, with good players throughout.  The linebackers are extremely solid, with Reed Williams and JT Thomas the leaders of that group.  Scooter Berry is a good DT, but they lack ends. The five man secondary has good safeties, but at corner…could be trouble.

Prediction:  9-3, 4-3 Big East

Key player:  O-line.  Depth on the o-line is a major question, so they must stay healthy.

Sitcom:  Cheers.  Not quite as good as it was without Diane and the Coach, but still very very good.

3.  Cincinnati

On offense:  Somewhat surprisingly effective QB Tony Pike returns to an offense that could be awfully good.  They return their top three rushers, and have a very explosive receiving corps, especially Mardy Gilyard, one of the nation’s best receivers.  However, while the left side of the line is solid, but the right side features players who haven’t had much experience.

On defense:  The Bearcats are totally rebuilding their defense.  10 new starters coming in.  Sophomore Derrick Wolfe is a budding star on the line, and though they’re green, they’re big and should be tough to run on.  They should struggle, though, to rush the passer.  The linebackers are pretty solid, but lack a real star.  In the secondary, they must replace three NFL draft choices, so it could be tough…although their safeties have some experience.

Prediction:  8-4, 4-3 Big East

Key Player:  Linebackers & secondary…for Cincinnati to challenge for another BE crown, their defense has to grow up quickly.

Sitcom:  Coach.  Coach went as far as Craig T. Nelson, Jerry Van Dyke, and Dawber took it, much like Cincinnati will only go as far as Brian Kelly and his staff will take them.

2.  Rutgers

On offense:  The big question on offense is who will replace departed QB Mike Teel.  Dominic Natale and Jabu Lovelace will both get a crack at the job.  Lovelace was the backup last year, but was hurt early in the season and is more of a runner than a passer.  The running game should be by committee, but Kordell Young is the leading returning rusher from last season and should start.  Receiver, though, could be a massive hole.  They have to replace Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood, and return essentially nothing except Tim Brown, who’s a long ball threat.  They have speed at wideout, but little experience.  The o-line is a point of strength.

On defense:  While the offense isn’t going to blow anyone away, the defense should be very solid.  The line, while having to replace two starters, is extremely deep.  The tackles could struggle to stop the run though.  Ryan D’Imperio is a really good middle linebacker, and should have very fast help from the outside.  Devin McCourty is a solid corner, but the other side is a question, while the safeties should be good.  Overall, a very solid unit.

Prediction:  10-2, 6-1 BE (loss to USF)

Key Player:  QB

Sitcom:  Night Court.  A somewhat odd conglomeration of actors, none of which moved on to anything spectacular later on.  But the show was oddly entertaining.

1.  South Florida

On offense:  By the end of his career, Matt Grothe will be the BE’s all time total offense leader.  He has been very turnover prone though, throwing 14 picks every season.  Very solid at tailback also, with starter Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor having it covered.  At receiver, they return 4 of their top 5 pass catchers.  The big question is on the offensive line, where the bulls are looking to replace 4 starters, losing the most talent on the left side.

On defense:  George Selvie is one of the most dominant pass rushers in America, and commands a double team nearly every time he’s on the field.  Aaron Harris needs to take advantage from the other side.  The linebackers are very athletic, but lack depth, and the secondary is looking to Jerome Murphy to be a star.  They will be very physical.

Prediction:  10-2, 6-1 BE (loss @ Pitt)

Key Player:  O-line.  They’ll put up a ton of points if the o-line can block.

Sitcom:  The Office.  A lot of names, and struggled for a while to come into its own, but finally did.

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