The College Football season is just a couple of weeks away, and the preseason predictions are flowing.
I compiled eight bold (some more bold than others) predictions in regards to the 2010 Big East Football Conference to correspond to the eight Big East teams. Just to warn you, I do not believe that all of these predictions will be true come the end of the season, so don't think I'm a lunatic.
I'm starting off pretty bold with this one, but it's not absurd. South Florida lost a ton on defense, including pass-rush gurus Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie, and secondary studs Jerome Murphy and Nate Allen. They also lost Carlton Mitchell, last year's top receiving option, so it looks like it's all on BJ Daniels this year.
Syracuse has Delonte Carter back, so their running game looks good. Ryan Nassib has experience and showed upside in his limited action in '09. Also, I think Doug Marrone is a better coach than newly hired Skip Holtz and can do more with what he has.
This could come back to bite me since West Virginia returns about nine players on both sides of the ball. My problem with WVU is that they are breaking Eugene Smith, a new quarterback. Smith played a few snaps last year and wasn't able to run a decent drive, especially against Florida State in the Gator Bowl.
On defense, the Mountaineers look really stout, but I don't see Geno Smith having them perform against defenses like Pittsburgh, Uconn, and Rutgers.
Also, Bill Stewart might be the worst coach in the Big East and will hold the Mountaineers back in a deep conference.
I think this pick might actually prove to be true.
All Big East teams took a major blow to their respective passing games. Cincinnati lost Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard, Uconn lost Marcus Easley, Louisville lost Scott Long, Pitt lost Bill Stull and Dorin Dickerson, Rutgers lost Tim Brown, South Florida lost Carlton Mitchell, Syracuse lost Greg Paulus and Mike Williams, and West Virginia lost Jarrette Brown. All of these players started for their respective team at either QB, WR, or TE. With new faces in the air attack, the tailbacks will have a heavier load.
In terms of the returning rushing attack, all teams return a player who rushed for at least 750 yards. My picks for each team's 1,000 yard rusher are Isaiah Pead for Cincinnati, Jordan Todman for Uconn, Victor Anderson for Louisville, Dion Lewis (of course) for Pittsburgh, Joe Martinek for Rutgers, BJ Daniels for South Florida (I know he's a QB but the offense will revolve around him), Delonte Carter for Syracuse, and Noel Devine for West Virginia.
This will leave many of you dumbfounded, but it shouldn't.
Todman split carries with Andre Dixon, who just graduated, and still accumulated 1,000 yards. With a questionable passing game and an offensive line that is full of experience, Todman will be a workhorse and will get in the 1,500-1,700 yard range, if not more.
In Lewis' case, Pittsburgh still boasts Jonathan Baldwin, the top receiver in the Big East, so the Panthers will not shy away from passing a lot. Also, Lewis will not shock anyone this time around and teams will put eight in the box early and often. Don't get me wrong, Lewis will still be amazing, but his numbers will not show as much as a year ago. Also, there are three new starters on the offensive line for the Panthers.
This is a stretch, but I have a feeling it will happen.
Sorry Cincy, but this years Big East will be all about defense.
As stated before, there are new offensive starters throughout the Big East. This leaves room for more tough, defensive, grind-it-out football. It seems that most teams in the conference have one of their top defenses ever (Rutgers, Uconn, WVU, and Pitt).
There will be no more shootouts like just about every Cincinnati game in '09. It will be the hardest hitters and the toughest run-stoppers that will come out victorious in this year's Big East.
Cincinnati will be all about the passing game this season. They have a proven quarterback, and three great wideouts. Also, their new coach, Butch Jones, just came from Central Michigan where Dan Lefevour put up huge passing numbers.
Armon Binns will surely eclipse 1,000 yards since he broke 800 yards as the second option last year. This season he will be the new No. 1 for the Bearcats.
As for the second 1,000 yard receiver, I think USC transfer Vidal Hazleton will take care of those duties. He was a huge prospect coming out of high school, and if not for injuries after his freshman campaign, could have broken 1,000 yards as a Trojan.
Uconn is the Big East dark horse that everyone seems to love and pull for. I'll admit, I'm also on the bandwagon.
Uconn returns an experienced and talented defense, especially with stud linebackers Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson. They will be tough to score on, especially on the ground.
The offense looks solid, with an experienced offensive line and a super talented running back in Jordan Todman. The passing game is a little iffy, but probable starter Zack Frazer has starting experience and has been good at times. Wideout Kashif Moore will step up big time in Marcus Easley's absence.
Randy Edsall will make sure that Uconn closes out games this season. As you probably heard, the Huskies dropped their five losses last year by a combined 15 points. That means that this more experienced group can remain composed and surprise the country with 10 wins or so. If Uconn gets double digit wins, Edsall will take the National Coach of the Year award considering he originally took over a FCS team.
This is a prediction based on my Rutgers bias, but I can back it up.
Rutgers returns star quarterback Tom Savage and a plethora of talented receivers, including super-athlete Mohamed Sanu. Their running game looks good with workhorse back Joe Martinek and a bevy of talented RBs who will see carries this year.
On defense, Rutgers is pretty much stacked. On paper they only return six starters, but they really return eight. Steve Beauharnais, a slated starter at linebacker, started the last three games in '09. Also, Jonathan Freeny wasn't the starter at defensive end, but he did lead the Knights with 9.5 sacks last year.
I may be a biased dreamer, but I think the Knights will make noise in, and maybe even win, the always wide-open Big East.
Also, check this article out on Sportshaze.com.