It's mid-August, and most 2008 college football preseason rankings are out. In the Big East, almost every single one has West Virginia winning the Big East and South Florida coming in a close second. Why is this?
Their defenses are decent again, so let's go through some reasons while comparing the two teams' offenses.
West Virginia might have lost Darius Reynaud, but they return Dorrell Jalloh, their No. 2 target, and big 6'8" Wes Lyons. Sure, Jalloh only had 272 yards, but he also didn't have that many receptions due to Pat White's tendency to run instead of pass.
Bill Stewart's plan for White is to get him to pass more, and Jalloh and Lyons should have no trouble replacing Reynaud's stats.
South Florida, on the other hand has Jessie Hester Jr. and Carlton Mitchell, who each had four touchdowns last year, but both are inconsistent and are constantly beat out by defensive backs.
Although they are both great dual-threat quarterbacks, Pat White clearly has the edge, as he has more experience and is faster than Matt Grothe. White is improving his passing every year while still having more rushing yards per season than Grothe.
Also, White has better decision making than Grothe, which is shown by their number of interceptions last season—White had only four interceptions to Grothe's 14.
Or in South Florida's case, the lack of it. West Virginia had Steve Slaton, a huge touchdown threat to compliment Pat White. Teams were focused on not just stopping White but also stopping Slaton, and they risked getting burned. When you focus on just the quarterback, a good running back will run all over you.
Although Slaton is gone, sophomore running back Noel Devine showed he could fill in for Slaton perfectly with 13 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-28 rout of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
When you put some of your focus on stopping the running back, the quarterback will find a way to score, and it will be very easy for him to do so.
In South Florida's situation, they are basically a one-man offense. Grothe throws the ball, and Grothe runs the ball. Although he is a threat at both, it is easy to just focus on him because South Florida running back Mike Ford isn't that big of a threat.
Although Ford was only a freshman last year, he did have 12 touchdowns on 138 carries. He looks like he will improve, but it is never good when a team's quarterback has more rushing yards the previous season than a RETURNING STARTER at running back.
Teams still shouldn't expect much from Ford, and Grothe will still be one of the only playmakers in the backfield. Their offense won't take off unless there is someone else to run the ball and take the pressure off Grothe to lead all of the offense in the USF backfield.
Unless the running game takes off and Grothe can make better decisions, the South Florida offense will not compare to West Virginia's. Defense can't do everything. Sorry, USF—maybe you can win the Big East next year.
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