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2011 Spring Preview - The Big East Buzz
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 9, 2011


The early buzz around each Big East team going into spring practices.


2011 Big East Spring Preview

The Spring Buzz

Click for each team's spring preview
- Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh
- Rutgers | South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia
 
2011 Big East Spring Preview
- 2011 Big East Schedules & Game-By-Game Picks
- 2011 Big East Spring Buzz   
- 2011 Big East Spring Attitudes 
- 2011 Big East Big Spring Questions  
- 2011 Big East Positions To Watch  

2011 Big East Pre-Spring Preview
- Big East Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On  

- Cincinnati

In order to add a little more punch to the pass rush, the staff is considering shifting former TE Travis Kelce to defensive end. He has tremendous size and the requisite athleticism to make the move stick. Don’t forget that this is the same 6-6, 260-pounder who was used some in the Wildcat formation two years ago. Back after missing 2010 because of a violation of team rules, he’ll be looking to channel his inner Connor Barwin, the former Bearcat tight end who’s now an end with the Houston Texans.

- Connecticut

Although the coaching staff is new to Storrs, it certainly isn’t lacking in experience. Paul Pasqualoni has surrounded himself with veterans, including three men with head coaching experience, offensive coordinator George DeLeone, defensive coordinator Don Brown, and O-line coach Mike Foley. Pasqualoni didn’t complete his staff until Clayton White was hired as running backs coach and special teams coordinator, so this first spring will be as important for the coaches as it is for the returning Husky players.
 
- Louisville

Head coach Charlie Strong will be a little shorthanded when he opens his second spring later in the month. On defense, CB Darius Ashley, DT Greg Scruggs and ends William Savoy and B.J. Butler are out with injuries. Offensively, C Mario Benavides, the lone returning starter on the line, RB Jeremy Wright, and WR Damian Copeland will also miss camp to rehab bumps and bruises. The good news is that all are expected by the summer, and their absences should help build more depth on both sides of the ball.

- Pittsburgh

Not only will LB Dan Mason be unavailable to the team this spring, but there are question marks about his ability to suit up at all in 2011. While he’s coming along well from last September’s leg injury, it was so severe that no one will assume he’ll be ready by this fall. It’s a shame, too, because he showed the potential to be an outstanding run defender in the middle of the D. Senior Max Gruder will continue to hold down the spot, with backup Joe Trebitz expected to get more reps than usual during the spring.
 
- Rutgers

At this time last year, Tom Savage was not only the returning starter at quarterback, he was the franchise. Today, he’s a free agent, looking for a new school to resurrect his career. It’s been quite an about-face for the can’t-miss recruit of 2009, which has left the Scarlet Knights painfully thin at quarterback. Chas Dodd actually unseated Savage a year ago, but is he absolutely the long-term solution? Greg Schiano has employed true freshmen the last two years, which is good news for talented newcomer Gary Nova.
 
- South Florida

Although the Bulls don’t bring back a ton of starters, they are excited to get a first good look at a couple of major transfers. Running backs Darrell Scott and Dontae Aycock, formerly of Colorado and Auburn, respectively, were one-time blue-chippers before reversing field and changing address. Scott was considered the nation’s top prep back three years ago, and Aycock had no shortage of offers in 2009. Both are big and physical runners, eager to fill the gaping void that currently exists in the South Florida backfield.

- Syracuse

Doug Marrone shuffled his staff in February, but it had more to do with changing roles than changing personnel. Marrone is thrilled that he’s been able to maintain continuity after last season’s successful campaign. The most notable move was elevating Nathaniel Hackett from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. The son of long-time coach Paul Hackett, he’s a rising star within the coaching ranks. After handling most of the play-calling duties in 2010, there shouldn’t be much of a transition for the coach or his players.
 
- West Virginia

Starting quarterback Geno Smith will be limited in the spring after having a screw inserted in his foot to stabilize a broken bone. He’ll be back to full strength before the summer, but his absence is going to slow down the implementation of Dana Holgorsen’s new offense in Morgantown. Further complicating matters, backup Barry Brunetti has left the program, leaving true freshmen Brian Athey and Paul Millard as the only passers on hand. Smith will get a crash course cerebrally, but he won’t be able to put that knowledge into action until August.

  Click for each team's spring preview
- Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh
- Rutgers | South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia
 
2011 Big East Spring Preview
- 2011 Big East Schedules & Game-By-Game Picks
- 2011 Big East Spring Buzz   
- 2011 Big East Spring Attitudes 
- 2011 Big East Big Spring Questions  
- 2011 Big East Positions To Watch  

2011 Big East Pre-Spring Preview
- Big East Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On