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2010 Big East Preview - Team By Team Looks
South Florida QB B.J. Daniels
South Florida QB B.J. Daniels
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 4, 2010


Preview 2010 - CFN Big East Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2010

Big East Team By Team



- Cincinnati Preview | Connecticut Preview | Louisville Preview | Pitt Preview
- Rutgers Preview | USF Preview | Syracuse Preview | West Virginia Preview

- 2010 Big East Preview | 2010 Big East Unit Rankings | 2010 Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-Big East Team & Top 30 Players | Get Big East Tickets
- 2010 Big East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish


Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

1. Pitt
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-1

Offense: Bill Stull will be missed, something Pitt fans never imagined they’d be hearing. The Panthers have a void at quarterback that’s going to be filled by sophomore Tino Sunseri, a talented recruit with no experience. If the offense is going to maintain last season’s momentum under second-year coordinator Frank Cignetti, who coached up Stull masterfully, it’ll need some degree of consistency from behind center. Poor play from the quarterback means superstar receiver Jon Baldwin gets underutilized and opposing defenses can stack the line to stop Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Lewis was last year’s revelation, traveling from lightly-recruited rookie to 1,800-yard Heisman contender. The program’s other concerns reside on the interior of the line and at tight end, where graduation sunk its teeth into both areas.
Defense: Although Pitt has suffered some heavy losses on defense, quality units have a knack for reloading. The Panther D is one such example. Of course, the departures of five starters and four all-stars were somewhat mollified by the return of DE Greg Romeus, who could be on an NFL depth chart today. He and Jabaal Sheard form one of the country’s better bookends up front, which has a way of making everyone else better. After finishing No. 2 in the league in total and scoring defense, Pitt has a good nucleus to work around and at least one budding playmaker at each level. While DT Myles Caragein, LB Dan Mason, and FS Jared Holley are anonymous outside Western Pennsylvania, they’re collectively going to make a ton of plays in 2010. The Panthers are recruiting and developing talent so well these days, rebuilding in not in their defensive vocabulary.

2. West Virginia
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-1

Offense: Coordinator Jeff Mullen and the offense got a huge break when RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders both opted to return for their senior year. Replacing them, especially Devine, would have been grueling. Now all the Mountaineers have to do is surround them with the right mix of talent to make those decisions look wise. The big question revolves around quarterback, as second-year Geno Smith takes his first steps toward becoming the franchise at the position. After showing flashes as a rookie, he hopes to bloom now that Jarrett Brown has graduated. He should be well-protected by a line that returns four starters, though replacing Selvish Capers at right tackle will require some heavy lifting. On a macro level, Mullen wants his unit to become more consistent on a weekly basis and less prone to turnovers.
Defense: With nine starters back from an already stout defense, coordinator Jeff Casteel’s biggest offseason objectives are to develop depth and keep the veterans focused. The Mountaineers boast at least one returning all-star from each level, NT Chris Neild, LB J.T. Thomas, and defensive backs Brandon Hogan and Robert Sands. And that doesn’t even count DT Scooter Berry, a 2008 all-star, and DE Julian Miller, who got shafted a year ago. Provided it doesn’t have to look too far down the bench, West Virginia will be one of the Big East’s stingiest defenses against the run and the pass. While Casteel doesn’t always land the best high school talent, he continues to have a knack for putting really good athletes into his 3-3-5 stack and molding them into outstanding playmaking defenders.

3. USF
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4
Predicted Conference Record: 5-2

Offense: Consistent with the hiring of a new staff, the South Florida offense is about to undergo some serious changes. Todd Fitch—the Bulls’ third coordinator in three years—is installing an attack that’ll scrap the four-wide sets and shotgun formations in favor of a more conservative system that features a heavy dose of north-south running. And don’t rule out some Wildcat looks, which Fitch and Skip Holtz employed while at East Carolina. One constant will be exciting sophomore QB B.J. Daniels, who showed flashes of multi-dimensional brilliance after Matt Grothe was lost for the year. He has a good support cast, led by RB Moise Plancher and WR Dontavia Bogan, but it’s a veteran-laden offensive line, which should be his biggest ally in 2010.
Defense: All five of last year’s all-stars, two linemen, a linebacker, and two defensive backs, have departed, marking a new era on defense at South Florida. Yes, there will be voids left by the likes of George Selvie, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Nate Allen, but the cupboard is hardly empty for first-year coordinator Mark Snyder. The former Marshall head coach has inherited a ton of elite athletes, with next-level ability, needing to coach them into a cohesive and stingy group. Unlike the past few seasons, the Bulls are light on sure-fire all-stars heading into the season. That does not, however, mean there aren’t household names bubbling beneath the surface. You probably don’t know names, such as DE Ryne Giddins, LB Sam Barrington, or CB Kayvon Webster. You could by early December, as a new wave of defenders begins earning significant playing time.

4. Cincinnati
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4
Predicted Conference Record: 4-3

Offense: Okay, so you don’t get better by losing head coach Brian Kelly and QB Tony Pike, but does anyone think Cincinnati still won’t rock on offense? It will, even if the results aren’t quite as prolific as a year ago. The ingredients for continued success are clearly in place. Kelly’s replacement, Butch Jones, employs a similar spread offense, which means the personnel is already a good fit and the terminology won’t be foreign. Oh, and that personnel is fantastic. QB Zach Collaros was a revelation as Pike’s backup in 2009 and his supporting cast is loaded with playmakers, like RB Isaiah Pead, WR Armon Binns, and TE Ben Guidugli. Plus, receivers Vidal Hazelton and Marcus Barnett are a couple of imports from USC and the secondary, respectively, with enormous potential. If there’s a concern, it surrounds an offensive line that must replace an all-star at center and left tackle. If this group can continue to overachieve, there’s no reason ‘Cats can’t average 30 points a game once again.
Defense: Considering the fact that only one starter returned, Cincinnati couldn’t be faulted for springing leaks from time to time a year ago. The Bearcats held up about as well as could be expected, which should benefit this squad. Co-coordinators Tim Banks and John Jancek inherit a team that returns six starters and is getting reacquainted with the 4-3 alignment. While the first line of defense will be decent, led by next-level DT Derek Wolfe, depth is going to be a concern throughout the unit. At linebacker, JK Schaffer and Walter Stewart are athletic playmakers on the outside, but Tennessee transfer Dorian Davis needs to prove he can handle the middle. For the second straight year, the secondary will be vulnerable against established passing attacks until a true lockdown corner can be developed.

T5. Connecticut
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 3-4

Offense: > If the first year with Joe Moorhead’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense is any indication, the attack is here to stay. The Huskies were far more balanced—and potent—than in recent years, averaging an uncharacteristic 31 points a game in 2009. Hey, they’ll still run the ball plenty behind RB Jordan Todman and a rock-solid line, but former Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer will get ample opportunities to shine at quarterback. He came on late in an injury-filled junior year, flashing the strong arm and confidence that once made him a can’t-miss high school prospect out of Pennsylvania. Connecticut’s biggest worry is at wide receiver, where capable hands need to be found for Marcus Easley and Brad Kanuch. While the program loves the upside of Isiah Moore, Kashif Moore, and Michael Smith, all three still need to prove it as primary targets in the passing game.
Defense: Smoke and mirrors. How else do you make sense of a defense that never lands can’t-miss prospects, yet always seems to be among the Big East’s toughest defenses to navigate? An extra helping of credit belongs on the plate of coordinator Todd Orlando, who does a masterful job of bringing out the best in the players he attracts. Connecticut will be rock-solid in the front seven in 2010, clamping down on opposing ground games with tackles Twyon Martin and Kendall Reyes, and linebackers Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus. The Huskies’ biggest concerns are at defensive end and cornerback, two positions well-stocked with young talent … and questions. The eventual fate of this unit will depend on a slew of gifted sophomores, such as Jesse Joseph, Jory Johnson, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jerome Junior, and Dwayne Gratz. As they grow, so grows the Husky D.

T5. Rutgers
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 3-4

Offense: Rutgers handed the ball to a couple of true freshmen, QB Tom Savage and WR Mohamed Sanu, and the results were predictable. The rookies flashed incredible long-term potential, but the attack was erratic and ranked last in the league in total offense. While Savage, Sanu, and leading rusher Joe Martinek are all back, will the Scarlet Knights be any more potent? It all depends on the play of an offensive line that got schooled in 2009 and must replace three important starters. It will not be easy. Surrounding veterans Art Forst, Howard Barbieri, and Caleb Ruch is a wave of young kids who have to perform beyond expectations. If Rutgers is to improve in 2010, it’ll be as much about Desmond Stapleton, Desmond Wynn, and Devon Watkis as it is about Savage, Sanu, and Martinek.
Defense: No respect. That pretty much sums up a Rutgers defense that was terrific a year ago, despite landing just a single player on the All-Big East squad. Only a no-name, unselfish squad, like the one coached by Greg Schiano and his staff, could finish top 20 nationally in run defense, takeaways, sacks, tackles for loss, scoring D, and total D with such little star power. So, as long as the staff remains intact, the 2010 edition should be able to withstand the loss of five starters. Sack leader Jonathan Freeny slides into the lineup for DE George Johnson. Steve Beauharnais and Manny Abreu will ably replace Ryan D’Imperio and Damaso Munoz at linebacker. Cornerback? That’s a different story, as the program moves on without that lone all-star, current New England Patriot Devin McCourty. Help will come from a deep and predictably unheralded front that gets into the backfield as well as any team in the conference. If there’s a tweak the Knights need to make, it’s in the red zone, where they struggled to force field goals in 2009.

7. Syracuse
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 1-6

Offense: Meet the new base, same as the old base. The Orange is going back to its roots in an effort to find a pulse on offense…sort of. While the new formation will have an old-school flavor, featuring a fullback, a tight end, and two receivers, Syracuse still plans to be aggressive under the guidance of none other than head coach Doug Marrone. It’s going to use a lot of different formations, shifts, and motions, while taking more shots downfield. Now that Greg Paulus is gone, the reigns of the attack will be given to young Ryan Nassib, last year’s backup. His favorite targets will be Alec Lemon, a rising star at wide receiver, and TE Nick Provo, who’s returning from injuring. The running game was supposed to be in the hands of 1,000-yarder Delone Carter, but while he’s on suspension and awaiting his fate, Antwon Bailey and Averin Collier will shoulder the load.
Defense: The Syracuse defense didn’t just exceed expectations in 2009, it was one of the better-kept secrets in the Big East. Coordinator Scott Shafer arrived with a gameplan to get his best athletes on the field and get in the faces of the other team with an attacking style. It worked. The Orange led the league in run defense and were No. 6 nationally in sacks. Still, there were too many breakdowns in pass defense and in the red zone that must be addressed if the unit is to take another step forward. The backbone of the D will be linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, a pair of former running backs, who combined for a whopping 26.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, and countless quarterback pressures. If the program is going to finally solve its issues in pass defense, it has to get better play out of the secondary. It had the support of the rush a year ago, but the mix of rising stars, such as Shamarko Thomas and Phillip Thomas, and vets, like Mike Holmes and Max Suter, needs to be parlayed into fewer breakdowns and more big plays.

8. Louisville
Predicted Overall Record: 3-9
Predicted Conference Record: 0-7

Offense: One of the first moves made by Charlie Strong was to hire Mike Sanford to run his offense. Fired as the head coach of UNLV, he remains one of the game’s brighter minds, a strong proponent of the spread. His attack will look similar to the one at Florida, which requires its quarterback to be mobile and multi-dimensional. Sans an ideal fit at the position right now, the coordinator will try to fit his scheme around the personnel. That’ll mean more action for backs Victor Anderson, Darius Ashley, and Bilal Powell, who form the offense’s deepest unit. Anderson is making his way back from an injury-filled sophomore year, looking to regain the form that helped make him a 1,000-yard rusher in 2008. Sanford is likely to choose between two senior quarterbacks, Justin Burke and Adam Froman, the latter having a little more experience and a lot more speed.
Defense: Charlie Strong is a defensive-minded coach. He and new coordinator Vance Bedford have a lot to think about in their first season on the job. The new staff inherits a dearth of overall talent, much of which was mined from junior colleges across the West and Southwest. Unlike what Strong and Bedford grew accustomed to in Gainesville, NFL scouts have few reasons to pass through Louisville in 2010. So now what? In lieu of a complete turnaround from last year’s dismal results, the Cardinals will settle for implementing a new system, coaching up the holdovers, and preparing the young kids for 2011 and beyond.

- Cincinnati Preview | Connecticut Preview | Louisville Preview | Pitt Preview
- Rutgers Preview | USF Preview | Syracuse Preview | West Virginia Preview

- 2010 Big East Preview | 2010 Big East Unit Rankings | 2010 Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-Big East Team & Top 30 Players | Get Big East Tickets
- 2010 Big East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish