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2009 Big East Preview - Unit Rankings
West Virginia LB Reed Williams
West Virginia LB Reed Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 27, 2009


2009 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Big East Unit Rankings

2009 CFN Big East Preview

Unit Rankings

Team Previews & Predictions
Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pitt
Rutgers | South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia


- 2009 CFN Big East Preview
- Big East Team-by-Team Capsules

- CFN All-Big East Team & Top 30 Players
-
Big East Unit Rankings

- Big East Schedules & Predictions

- 2008 CFN Big East Preview

Offenses

1. West Virginia
After getting mostly negative reviews in his first season as the offensive coordinator, Jeff Mullen begins his second year without the services of QB Pat White. Oh, joy. Actually, there are silver linings for the offense. Jarrett Brown has been one of the nation’s top backup quarterbacks the last two years, and Noel Devine is a dynamic playmaker coming out of the backfield. Plus, without White to bail the offense out of every jam, the days of relying on one player to do most of the heavy lifting are over. The Mountaineers are sticking with the spread, but it’ll be tailored more toward Brown, a taller passer, who won’t have to scramble to improve his line of sight. The program needs him to deliver in a big way after it produced its fewest points in seven years.       

2. South Florida
3. Cincinnati
4. Pitt
5. Rutgers
6. Louisville
7. Connecticut
8. Syracuse

Quarterbacks

1. Cincinnati
For the first time in four years, Cincinnati came out of spring without any major question marks at quarterback. That’s a good thing for the entire program that has undergone so much turmoil under center. The Bearcats were able to win games last year when Tony Pike was average, but that won’t be the case in 2009. He’ll need to take his game to another level and become the new face of the program. Chazz Anderson is a fantastic athlete, and there are nice reserves pushing for the No. 3 spot.

2. West Virginia
3. South Florida
4. Pitt
5. Rutgers
6. Louisville
7. Connecticut
8. Syracuse

Running Backs

1. West Virginia
As long as Noel Devine is healthy, West Virginia will again have one of the most explosive running games in the country. If, however, he gets dinged, hold your breath. The Mountaineers are perilously thin in the backfield, lacking the depth and experience to endure any down time from their best offensive weapon.


2. Louisville
3. Connecticut
4. South Florida
5. Rutgers
6. Cincinnati
7. Pitt
8. Syracuse

Receivers

1. Pitt
Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh has been home to one of the nation’s least efficient passing teams. Don’t blame the receivers, a talented group that would be so much more productive if teamed with a better battery mate. It’s hard to argue with a unit that has star potential at wide receiver with Jonathan Baldwin and Oderick Turner, and tight end Nate Byham, and as much depth as anyone in the Big East.

2. Cincinnati
3. South Florida
4. Syracuse
5. Louisville
6. West Virginia
7. Rutgers
8. Connecticut

Offensive Line

1. Connecticut
Someone needs to start giving more attention to the job being done by offensive line coach Mike Foley, who consistently whips players others ignored into outstanding blockers. He’ll earn his pay again this year, trying to retool a unit that helped the Huskies lead the Big East in rushing and sacks allowed. The key will be at left tackle, where either Dan Ryan or Jimmy Bennett needs to lessen the pain of losing William Beatty to the NFL.

2. West Virginia
3. Pitt
4. Cincinnati
5. Louisville
6. Rutgers
7. South Florida
8. Syracuse

Defenses

1. Pitt
As the defense goes, so goes the Pittsburgh program. Even after losing All-American LB Scott McKillop to graduation, the Panthers are loaded on this side of the ball, especially up front. With three legitimate All-Big East contenders, they’ll control the line of scrimmage most weekends, making life easier for the linebackers and defensive backs. On the outside, Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard form one of the top 10 or so scariest pass rushing tandems in the country. Add in DT Mick Williams, a disruptive force in his own right, and Pitt has a chance to dominate most games at the point of contact. If a suitable replacement can be found for McKillop in the middle, the Panthers will hold opponents to under 20 points a game this fall.

2. South Florida
3. West Virginia
4. Rutgers
5. Connecticut
6. Cincinnati
7. Louisville
8. Syracuse

Defensive Line


1. Pitt
If, indeed, it all starts up front, the Panthers will be in great shape on defense this season. Pitt has enough talent on the line to dominate and force quarterbacks into mistakes. The Big East doesn’t have many quality passers as it is, so the Panthers will enjoy a huge edge in most games with Greg Romeus coming from the outside, and Mick Williams controlling things inside.

2. South Florida
3. West Virginia
4. Connecticut
5. Rutgers
6. Cincinnati
7. Syracuse
8. Louisville

Linebackers

1. West Virginia
Whatever the defensive linemen miss, these talented linebackers will be prepared to clean up. Even after losing Ivy to the NFL, it’s a very talented and diverse group that knows the 3-3-5 stack intimately. Reed Williams and J.T. Thomas are All-Big East-caliber, and Pat Lazear and Anthony Leonard aren’t that far behind.

2. Connectcut
3. Rutgers
4. Pitt
5. South Florida
6. Cincinnati
7. Louisville
8. Syracuse

Defensive Backs

1. Pitt
If they can avoid some of the breakdowns that plagued them last year, the Panthers are in nice shape in the defensive backfield. There’s a good mix of athletes, with corners Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel, to go along with the thumpers, Dom DeCicco and Elijah Fields. Throw in the rush that’ll be generated up front, and it’ll be very tough throwing on Pitt this year.


2. South Florida
3. West Virginia
4. Connecticut
5. Rutgers
6. Cincinnati
7. Louisville
8. Syracuse

Special Teams

1. Cincinnati
It doesn't get a whole lot of discussion, but assistant Mike Elston does a really nice job with the UC pecial teams. The Beacats cover well, have dangerous return men, and should get enough out of Jake Rogers as a kicker and a punter. While his leg strength is not a question, he does need to straighten out more of his kicks. Mardy Gilyard is one of the most explosive kickoff returners in America.

2. Pitt
3. Rutgers
4. South Florida
5. Connecticut
6. West Virginia
7. Syracuse
8. Louisville