Posted on: October 16, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 10:08 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1.) West Virginia's defense is playing a big part in West Virginia's success - West Virginia has largely been thought of as an offensive threat, especially with Noel Devine and Geno Smith in the backfield, but West Virginia fans should be thanking their defense for the 5-1 start. West Virginia's defensive unit shut down B.J. Daniels and the South Florida Bulls, keeping them out of the end zone for the entirety of their 20-6 win. The Mountaineers are only giving up an average of 12.3 points per game, best in the conference and making them one of the best defenses nationally. When Smith or Devine have been inconsistent, the defense has been able to carry the Mountaineers.
2.) Syracuse is not ready to be considered a contender - Last week, I mistakenly suggested that Syracuse might be ready to climb out of the incredibly deep hole and make things interesting in the Big East. After a three game winning streak, including knocking off South Florida in Tampa, the Orange looked like they were ready to make a statement against Pittsburgh. The only statement made in Pittsburgh was that Syracuse's success mostly had to do with the caliber of their opponents, and they might not be ready to be considered a contender in the Big East. Syracuse's defense looked porous against a Pittsburgh squad that has been far from impressive.
3.) Chas Dodd is the man (for now) at Rutgers - When Tom Savage went down in the second quarter against Tulane, Chas Dodd saw an opportunity to repeat history at Rutgers. When Savage was a freshman, he earned the starting job early in the season and won over fans orchestrating memorable wins like the last-minute touchdown to defeat Connecticut. Two weeks later Dodd is 2-0 as a starter, after leading the Scarlet Knights to a close win over Connecticut and a 23-20 victory of Army in overtime. Dodd threw for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Rutgers, who had to overcome a 17-3 second quarter deficit before finally locking up the win in overtime. The starting job appears to be Dodd's, at least for now.
4.) Anyone could win the Big East (still)- West Virginia appears to be the best team in the conference, but with most teams backlogging their schedule with conference games, there is a lot of Big East football left to play. West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Rutgers all could be considered legitimate contenders, and with a few upsets Syracuse and Louisville could be added to that conversation as well. No one team looks supremely dominant, but all teams have shown flashes of greatness at some point. West Virginia is the favorite, but they will have to finish their season playing Pittsburgh and Rutgers back-to-back, so nothing is certain.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 11:12 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2010 10:53 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As I said during the halftime update, this game was not very pretty, but in the end the Miami Hurricanes left Heinz Field with a 31-3 victory over Pitt. The difference in this one was that while Miami cleaned up its act a bit in the second half, the Panthers most certainly did not.
Jacory Harris rebounded from his poor performance in the first half to throw touchdowns over the final two quarters, putting the game out of reach when he found Leonard Hankerson for a 19-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that made the score 17-0 'Canes. Harris and the Hurricanes did suffer a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter when Harris had to leave the game after being sacked. He would return on the next series and finish the night with 248 yards passing.
For Pitt, the best thing I can say is that at least the game is over and that it wasn't a conference loss, so hopes of a Big East title still remain, though at this point winning the Big East is like proclaiming yourself the smartest person on the cast of Jersey Shore. Plus, there's no way this Pitt team can win the Big East -- even if it is horrible -- playing the way it did on Thursday night.
Dion Lewis struggled again, though a large part of it could be blamed on an offensive line that couldn't block a sled. Lewis finished the game with 27 yards on 10 carries. Ray Graham, on the other hand, had another strong night, tallying 100 yards on 10 carries -- though 42 of those yards came on one run in garbage time -- and also picked up 41 yards receiving so it's possible that Graham may see more touches than Lewis in the future.
After all, Graham was running behind the same offensive line as Lewis, yet he still found a way to move the ball. If only there were any other members of the Pitt offense who could do the same.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 9:19 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Here's a couple of things that both Dave Wannstedt and Randy Shannon wanted to see from their teams tonight.
Shannon wanted Jacory Harris to limit turnovers and make better decisions with the ball following his four-interception performance against Ohio State.
Dave Wannstedt wanted to see his offensive line improve and open up running lanes for his running backs.
Well, at halftime, neither coach is going to be very happy but at least Randy Shannon can say he has a ten-point lead.
In a game that isn't going to win any beauty contests, Jacory Harris has thrown two interceptions -- including one in the end zone -- while Pitt has managed 76 total yards. I'd say it's been ugly, but I wouldn't want to insult ugly.
Miami's touchdown came on their opening drive as the Canes went 80 yards in ten plays before Damien Berry punched it in from a yard out. They added a field goal midway through the second quarter, and if it weren't for Harris' turnovers, odds are that Miami would have this game well in hand by now.
As for Pitt, well, what can I really say? There are around 300 former Panthers in attendance at this game and every single one of them is probably embarrassed by what they've seen. The Panthers didn't pick up a first down until the 7:30 mark of the second quarter, going three and out on their first five "drives."
The Panthers offensive line is just getting destroyed by the Miami defense and Tino Sunseri has spent most of his time just trying not to get killed.
That being said, Pitt still only trails by ten at the break, but unless Jacory Harris keeps turning the ball over it doesn't look like the Panthers have much of a chance.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 6:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Last year Dion Lewis lit the Big East on fire, spending his freshman season running away from tacklers to the tune of 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to winning the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award. He entered 2010 as somebody to keep an eye on as far as the Heisman Trophy was concerned, but through Pitt's first two games the Lewis that was so electrifying last season is yet to show up.
Through Pitt's first two games Lewis has 102 yards. Now, at first glance, that isn't horrible. It's not good, but at least he's averaging 50 yards a game, right?
Yes, but too bad it's taking him nearly 25 carries to get there as he's averaging only 2.9 yards a carry.
Lewis' lack of production is a big reason why the Panthers enter tonight's game against Miami -- a pivotal game for both teams -- with a record of 1-1. Lewis played well enough in the Panthers' opener against Utah, rushing for 75 yards, but how does a player so good wind up with only 27 yards on ten carries against New Hampshire ?
Lewis' play has been so lackluster that he's even in danger of losing his job, something which seemed impossible only three weeks ago. Ray Graham didn't have nearly the same troubles as Lewis did against New Hampshire, rushing for 115 yards and two scores. Now, going into tonight's game, Dave Wannstedt has called his two backs "interchangeable" and said there's no set plan on splitting carries between the two.
"We’ll go in this week knowing that they’re both going to play," said The Wannstache during this week's press conference . "But with no specific plan that Dion (Lewis) will get so many carries, and Ray (Graham) will get so many carries. If we get a hot hand, we’ll play the hot hand."
In other words, if Lewis struggles against a Canes defense that has allowed 116.5 yards a game on the ground -- 181 against Ohio State -- he could find himself on the sidelines watching Graham tonight. Which is definitely not something Dave Wannstedt wants to see. If Pitt is going to live up to the preseason hype in 2010 and have a shot at winning the Big East and get to a BCS bowl, then Dion Lewis is going to have to return to his 2009 form.
Tonight is just as good a night as any to get started.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Big East is an automatic BCS-qualifying conference, and as one of the six "power" conference, they are afforded a certain amount of respect. Thus, we owe it to the conference and its members to begin this entry with a compliment. So here it goes: The Big East is three games over .500 against all competition this year.
And that's about it. Because even that lackluster 12-9 record among the eight Big East teams is misleading. For one, every single team is 1-0 against FCS competition. So, good news, Big East: if the conference as a whole were to be relegated tomorrow (unlikely as that may be), they'd be very good all of a sudden. Against the FBS, though, not so much; the Big East is 4-9 overall, which includes a 3-3 record against teams that aren't even in automatic-qualifier conferences. For example, Connecticut lost to Temple last week. By 14 points.
That brings us to the meat of the Big East's resume, and that's play against quality competition. It almost couldn't possibly be worse. The conference is 1-8 against BCS conference teams. Only West Virginia -- who beat a truly miserable Maryland team last Saturday -- has such a win under its belt. That, friends, is poor performance nonpareil.
If that's all going to change in the Big East's favor at all this season, it's going to have to be this weekend; Miami visits Pitt on Thursday, Oklahoma travels to Cincinnati, West Virginia is at LSU, and Rutgers hosts North Carolina. Four difficult -- but winnable -- games against high-profile competition. Among the four listed games, WhatIfSports.com only gives Pitt better than even odds to come away with a victory, so don't be terribly surprised if the conference can't break even against its "real" competition this weekend.
If there's one saving grace to all of this, it's that a conference is usually judged by its highest achievers. The SEC has always been able to rest its laurels on the members who would run through the conference undefeated, for example, because those teams almost always win their national championship games that await. Nobody would demean a conference that could produce a 14-0 Alabama team if that Crimson Tide runs through 14-0 Texas as happened last year, after all. So, West Virginia now has a similar opportunity. While we're not positive that even an undefeated Mountaineers team is guaranteed a BCS Championship berth, they will certainly face high competition during bowl season when that time comes (even if they drop a game between now and then). Win that matchup, and people will pay less and less attention to the cupcakes littering the Mountaineers' conference path.
Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:46 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 2:47 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Pittsburgh starting running back Dion Lewis struggled against New Hampshire on Saturday, basically a first for the reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Pittsburgh got some more bad news at the running back position, with reserve John Douglas being suspended from the team indefinitely because of disciplinary reasons.
Douglas was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a vehicle while DUI and being involved in an accident that resulted in death or personal injury, as well as a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and a summary underage drinking charge.
Douglas is on the depth chart behind Lewis and sophomore Ray Graham. Graham did have some success against New Hampshire, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns, though much of that was after the game was out of hand. Regardless, the Panthers have been struggling to get Lewis going in games - a problem that needs to be addressed during this off week. They will need to fix this issue before they face Miami on September 23. If the Panthers are one-dimensional, it could be a long day against the Hurricanes defense.
Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:10 am
Edited on: September 3, 2010 12:11 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
With Utah holding a 3-point lead, Pittsburgh lined up for a game-tying field goal with three seconds left. Pittsburgh's money kicker, Dan Hutchins, sent the 30-yard kick through the uprights, and the game was tied.
Except it wasn't, because unbeknownst to every single player on the field, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had called a timeout the instant before the snap, disallowing the field goal. So the teams lined up again, and Dan Hutchins kicked again. Except this time, Hutchins biffed the chip shot, hooking it left.
But that field goal didn't count either, because once again, Whittingham had iced Hutchins with a last-moment timeout. Utah's players and fans, nearly none of whom were aware that the timeout was called, celebrated until the officials restored order. At that point, Hutchins lined up for a third time, hit the field goal, and sent the game into overtime.
Three attempts at a field goal in a game situation, and only the last one counted. That's ridiculous.
The NCAA needs to stop allowing these types of situations to happen; frankly, they're wastes of everybody's time, and as evidenced by Whittingham's follies tonight, they rarely serve any demonstrable purpose. If a timeout's going to be called and enforced, players on the field need to be aware of it as it happens. The best way to accomplish this without making the rules even more needlessly complicated is to disallow timeouts from the sideline once the line is set on offense.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 5:01 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 5:30 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Sure. There is ton about Nike's new Pro Combat gear that makes perfect sense for the elite athlete. It's light weight, it's durable, and thanks to new technologies a Nike Pro Combat uniform soaking wet is supposedly still lighter than a normal dry uniform.
On Wednesday, Nike revealed the newest line of Pro Combat uniforms in college football. The line will begin with ten schools, with the motto: "Ten Storied Programs, Ten Game-Changing Uniforms."
The ten schools to debut the uniforms in 2010 will be TCU, Alabama, Miami, West Virginia, Boise State, Oregon State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Florida, and Virginia Tech.
But all the technology aside, let's get down to it: this is all about fashion, and fashion is just another tool in recruiting.
Face it, these jerseys are cool. They look sleek, yet many of them (particularly Florida and Ohio State) have a throwback feel. They utilize the "alternate colors" that have become so popular these days. They are the kinds of jerseys that the players want to wear.
They are the kinds of jerseys that high school players want to wear too. These are the programs that will be on nationally televised games, in front of millions of eyes. Thousands of those eyes are the best high school football players in the nation, and those impressionable teenagers are absolutely going to think these new jerseys are cool.
Which jersey is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Virginia Tech bust out these new black uniforms on Monday against Boise State. (Photo Credits: Virginia Tech, Nike)
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