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2011 Spring Preview - Big East Key Positions
Pitt DE Brandon Lindsey
Pitt DE Brandon Lindsey
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 9, 2011


The positions to watch for each Big East team going into spring practices.


2011 Big East Spring Preview

The Spring Position

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

Offensive tackle. Yeah, the defense is a sore spot in Cincinnati, but the program will go only as far as the offense will take it. The key will be to keep QB Zach Collaros protected, a concern since Samuel Griffin and CJ Cobb both exhausted their eligibility. When the blockers hold the line, Collaros, RB Isaiah Pead and WR DJ Woods are capable of putting up huge numbers. All eyes will be on Andre Cureton, Sean Hooey, and the rest of the young tackles hoping to win a job in the spring.

- Connecticut

The running backs. As unsettling as the situation may be at quarterback, it won’t be so bad if Connecticut can continue to run the ball effectively. The problem is that star Jordan Todman left early for the NFL and backups Robbie Frey and Meme Wylie have decided not to play football for the Huskies any longer. The spotlight will shine squarely on D.J. Shoemate, the former USC transfer looking to capitalize on this opportunity for playing time. Regardless of how he performs, Connecticut will be thin in the backfield and somewhat reliant on first-year players.
 
- Louisville

The offensive line. Not only have the veteran quarterbacks run out of eligibility, but so has all-star RB Bilal Powell. The successors will need as much help as possible from a front wall that must replace four starters around C Mario Benavides. On the left side, in particular, all-leaguers Mark Wetterer and Byron Stingily leave big shoes to fill. Only Alex Kupper, Ryan Kessling, and John Clark are back from the second team, meaning newcomers from the latest recruiting class must be ready to contribute immediately.

- Pittsburgh

Quarterback. While Todd Graham likes to run the ball more than most assume, he still needs a capable quarterback to lead his high-powered attack. And preferably one with enough mobility to make things happen with his feet. His passers have always been good athletes. Tino Sunseri is the returning starter, but some fear he’s a better fit for a pro-style offense. Pitt may have few other viable options. Pat Bostick wasn’t the answer and wisely gave up football. Anthony Gonzalez might be, but has yet to take a snap. Stay tuned.
 
- Rutgers

Defensive line. Greg Schiano’s front four is usually stout, but the 2011 edition will be breaking in four new starters around DT Scott Vallone. Help is needed throughout the two-deep, but especially on the outside, where Jonathan Freeny and Alex Silvestro will be missed. While Justin Francis is experienced and tough versus the run, he won’t frighten opposing tackles with his get-off or burst around the edge. Fingers will be crossed regarding the development of the young kids, like Junior Solice and Jamil Merrell.

- South Florida

Defensive line. Rarely a concern in Tampa, South Florida has taken significant hits up front for a second straight year. Three seniors are gone, headed by all-star tackle Terrell McClain. After Cory Grissom, who’s back to man the nose, the Bulls will be forced to lean a little more than they’d like on underclassmen. One in particular, DE Ryne Giddins, was a mega-recruit from the 2009 class, who might be ready to explode now that he has a couple of years on campus and fewer roadblocks to the top of the depth chart.

- Syracuse

Linebacker. Syracuse is moving forward without two of its finest linebackers in recent memory, Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith. Not only did they make a ton of stops for the Orange D, but they had a knack for coming up with the big play as well. Marquis Spruill becomes the new anchor on the second line of defense, but his supporting cast is a big question mark. Brice Hawkes, Dan Vaughan, and Malcolm Cater lettered last fall, and are the favorites to move up a rung on the ladder.  

- West Virginia

The secondary. Really, any unit qualifies on a defense that’s been gutted by graduations. The defensive backfield, though, has been especially hard hit, losing three starters and two all-stars to the NFL, Brandon Hogan and Robert Sands. Veteran S Eain Smith will be asked to do more than just provide depth, and corners Brodrick Jenkins and Patrick Miller will compete to start opposite Keith Tandy. The winner of that battle will get a crash course this fall in being picked on by opposing quarterbacks.

  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