Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:28 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. The conference got a reality check after 8-0 start. I wrote earlier this week about the Big East not getting to comfy with their undefeated record, and my suspicions became true this weekend. The conference went 4-4 with South Florida's victory over Ball State being the only win against an FBS opponent. Syracuse and Pittsburgh had to hold off late rallies from Rhode Island and Maine, while Rutgers and Connecticut were unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities to defeat North Carolina and Vanderbilt. But the weekend of frustration for the conference started with Louisville's 24-17 loss at home to Florida International.
2. Louisville's offensive line has to be fixed. Florida International exposed a glaring weakness in the Louisville offense on Friday night in their 24-17 victory over the Cardinals. The Panthers defense sacked Will Stein seven times and held running backs Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson to a combined 83 yards on 28 carries (2.9 ypc). Youth has been a concern for Louisville coming into the season, particularly with four new starters on the offensive line. But the performance against FIU was embarrassing for Charlie Strong's squad, and now the entire nation knows where and how to beat the Cardinals. Luckily, their next game is their annual matchup with Kentucky - who looks even worse. My thoughts are that Strong uses Kentucky and the next bye week to fix the issues. But that's probably a lot more hope than thought.
3.Pittsburgh is still adjusting to new systems on both sides of the ball. Todd Graham was supposed to bring the "high octane" offense to Pittsburgh, but the only player up to speed appears to be running back Ray Graham. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson installed a 3-3-5 attacking defense, and spent time refining it with Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. But neither system appeared to be clicking in the Panthers' 35-29 win over Maine on Saturday. Quarterback Tino Sunseri could not get synced with his receivers, only finding success on short and intermediate routes due to heavy pressure from Maine's defensive front. He was sacked seven times and tossed two interceptions before getting replaced by true freshman Trey Anderson.
The defense was picked apart by Maine quarterback Warren Smith in the second half, with the senior signal caller totaling 334 yards and three touchdowns in a failing effort to bring the Black Bears back from a 20-7 halftime deficit. The defense was hardly "attacking" down the stretch, and if Maine can make Pitt pay the Panthers have some serious concerns heading into next week's non-conference showdown with Iowa.
4. West Virginia's offense needs a consistent rushing attack. The statement sounds critical, but that is only because of how productive the offense is when the Mountaineers can move the ball on the ground. When Norfolk State was holding a 12-10 lead over West Virginia at halftime, they were daring head coach Dana Holgorsen to run the ball with only four men in the box. The Mountaineers were not able to get anything going on the ground with either Andrew Buie or Vernard Roberts, and Geno Smith was struggling to find receivers open in space. When the Mountaineers starting creating holes for their backs in the second half, it opened up the entire field and sparked the 45-0 second half run.
Tags: Andrew Buie, Ball State, Big East, Charlie Strong, Chip Patterson, Dana Holgorsen, Dick LeBeau, Florida International, Geno Smith, Jeremy Wright, Keith Patterson, Maine, Norfolk State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Ray Graham, Rhode Island, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, Tino Sunseri, Todd Graham, Trey Anderson, Vernard Roberts, Victor Anderson, Warren Smith, West Virginia, What I Learned, What I Learned Week 2, Will Stein
Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:57 am
By the Eye on College Football bloggers
To celebrate the 100 99 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.
90. T.Y. HILTON, receiver/returner, FIU. Every so often, a player rises up from the lower rungs of college football to make a credible run at the Heisman Trophy: Garrett Wolfe at Northern Illinois, Steve McNair at Alcorn State, Gordie Lockbaum once upon a time at Holy Cross. And if that's happening this year, the smartest bet is on Hilton, the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year and leader in all-purpose yardage.
But if Hilton does make a splash nationally, it won't be for his accolades, statistics, or even team success (though Hilton led his Golden Panthers to their first bowl berth and conference title last season, and could repeat the feat). It'll be for his electric playmaking, on full display in last year's Little Caesar's Bowl, when his 89-yard kickoff return for touchdown and 4th-and-17 conversion keyed a thrilling Panther comeback. Put a few more of those types of plays on SportsCenter (particularly in an early-season Friday night visit to Louisville), and the sky -- or more specifically, New York -- might be the limit. -- JH
89. LOGAN THOMAS, quarterback, Virginia Tech. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have won four conference championships and four Coastal Division titles. The league's expansion might have expected to highlight Florida State and Miami, but it has been the Hokies who have most often represented the conference on the national stage. But for the last four years of that run, the Hokies were had ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor. Now Taylor is gone, and it's Thomas who's set to take his place.
The redshirt sophomore has already impressed coaches and teammates with his performance in spring practice, and the hopes are high for his first season as the Hokies starter. Standing at 6-foot-6, Thomas often looked like the big brother as Taylor tutored him throughout last season. With quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain now assuming the play-calling duties, the offense will run through Thomas. Tech has many of the pieces in place to defend their ACC championship, but they'll need Thomas to settle in quickly to get it done. -- CP
88. AT&T PARK, temporary home stadium, Cal. For the first time since 1923, the California Golden Bears will play their home games somewhere other than California Memorial Stadium. As the university enters the final stages of their $321 million retrofit and renovation project, the Bears will play their home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco - home of the Giants. The setup for football won't be entirely foreign for the venue -- it's the home of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl -- but it will be an inconvenient trip for players, students and fans so used to their home games in Berkeley.
With four critical, winnable home games on their Pac-12 slate (highlighted by visits from USC and Utah), how well the Bears adapt to their new surroundings could well determine the trajectory of Jeff Tedford's Bears tenure. After four seasons with no fewer than four losses and no league finish higher than fourth, Tedford needs a big year to avoid a make-or-break 2012 season, and given the Bears' rigorous road schedule (at Oregon, at Stanford) that simply won't happen if Cal spits the bit at AT&T Park. The stadium could be Tedford's sanctuary; it could prove to be his house of horrors. -- CP
87. VICTOR ANDERSON, running back, Louisville. In 2008, Anderson rushed for 1,047 yards and 8 touchdowns, numbers good enough for him to be named the Big East Rookie of the Year. But nagging injuries over the last two seasons have prevented Anderson from recapturing that freshman form. Now, for the first time since that promising campaign, Anderson is 100 percent healthy.
Just in time, too, for Charlie Strong's second season as Cardinal head coach. With very little chance to prove himself in 2010, some believed that sophomore Jeremy Wright might replace the dominant Bilal Powell as the 'Ville's starting running back. But after one of his best springs since stepping on campus, Anderson has reclaimed the greater share of snaps in the Cardinals' backfield. There will be a lot of pressure for Strong to repeat the success of 2010, and he's already shown his affection for the rushing game. If the Cardinals are going back to the postseason again, they'll need 2008's Anderson (or better) in 2011. -- CP
86. CASE KEENUM'S KNEE, body part, Houston quarterback. The coronation of college football's newest passing king looked to be in serious jeopardy last fall when Keenum, a senior, suffered a season-ending ACL tear during an ill-advised attempt at a tackle against UCLA. Keenum had been on pace to set NCAA records in career yards and touchdowns before the injury, but there's no progress to be made there on the sidelines.
Fortunately for Keenum, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility this January, meaning not only does he have another shot at setting those NCAA records, but he's 636 yards and three touchdowns closer. At this point, the biggest obstancle in Keenum's way is his own health. His rehab's on track so far, and he's going to be doing 7-on-7 drills with his receivers to get that all-important timing down, but how is he going to respond physically and mentally to this setback? Can he still set those records? Will his knee allow him to? -- AJ
85. LSU AT ALABAMA, potential Game of the Year, SEC. In a division where as many as four or five teams can have realistic dreams of a top-10 season and a trip to Atlanta, there's no shortage of "Game of the Year" candidates. Pair off any one of Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State -- a group featuring three of the last four national champions, a fourth team coming off a Sugar Bowl berth, and a fifth coached by a man with two national title rings himself -- and you're going to get not only a potential classic, but the game that could decide the outcome of the nation's hands-down strongest division.
But even taking into account the South Carolina-Georgia-Florida round-robin in the East, the single game most likely to produce the SEC's 2011 champion will be played between the Tide and Tigers on Nov. 5. Both teams will bring wicked defenses, explosive athletes, powerful running games (at least, if we're right about Spencer Ware) ... and potentially shaky quarterback situations that could derail either team's title dreams. It all collides head-on in Tuscaloosa, and whatever the result, the SEC season won't be remotely the same in its aftermath. -- JH
Coker -- who probably would have redshirted were it not for a slew of injuries in front of him on the depth chart -- is now the unquestioned workhorse in the Iowa backfield after the departures of every other tailback with even one down of experience. He's clearly got the physical gifts to make it work (and a talented, veteran line in front of him), but will Coker's bruising style of play hold up through an entire season in the Big Ten? --AJ
83. DANNY O'BRIEN, quarterback, Maryland. When 2010's ACC Rookie of the Year takes the field for his sophomore campaign this fall, in some ways it will feel as new as last September when the Kernersville, NC native took the conference by storm. After leading the Terrapins within a game of an Atlantic Division title, head coach Ralph Friedgen was fired, and offensive coordinator James Franklin took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. O'Brien's favorite receiver, junior Torrey Smith, took his 1,055 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns to the NFL.
Now O'Brien returns with expectations to repeat last year's success in College Park. But this go-round he has a new head coach (Randy Edsall) and new offensive coordinator (Gary Crowton). Luckily, neither coach is lacking in experience, and there should be plenty of learning opportunities for the sophomore gunslinger. Now O'Brien must seize control of those opportunities to keep Maryland --as Terps fans expect -- in the Atlantic Division hunt. -- CP
82. DECLAN SULLIVAN, late student videographer, Notre Dame. Though Notre Dame's 2010 campaign finished on a high note on the field, the season had already been irreparably marred by the tragic October death of Declan Sullivan. Sullivan lost his life when the scissor lift he was on while filming an Irish practice toppled over in high winds. (At right, that's a picture of Oregon's D.J. Davis wearing Sullivan's photo on his handwarmer as a tribute.) Notre Dame was fined for the accident and has since taken steps to make sure it never happens again, filming practice by placing cameras at different angles around the field rather than putting students on top of lifts.
It's a practice that a lot of schools would be smart to adapt, and it's one example of how Sullivan's legacy -- we desperately hope -- impacts the 2011 season and beyond. Whether it's discontinuing the use of lifts, using better equipment to reduce the risk of injury, closer supervision of player workouts, even more regular medical check-ups for stressed-out coaches, college football must do a better job of ensuring the safety of those involved with it. The lesson from the Sullivan tragedy is that those in charge must be proactive in making the necessary changes; even if the number of deaths from lift incidents stops, forever, at one, that one is still far, far too many. -- TF
81. WILL LYLES, scouting service director, Houston, Texas. The man who runs Complete Scouting Services has become the face of one of the NCAA's latest, biggest targets: scouting services. These alleged "street agents" associated with different scouting services came under fire earlier this spring when it was revealed that Oregon paid Lyles $24,000 for his services before signing coveted recruit Lache Seatrunk. Since then, the public has slowly learned more and more about the scouting service industry.
What they have learned is that Oregon is not the only school that uses them. In fact, many schools pay scouting services for DVD's, measurements, and other information that may help in recruiting. But the dollar amounts in some cases do not exactly fall in line with "standard prices." Lyles is currently being investigated by the NCAA for his ties to Seastrunk, LaMichael James (also at Oregon), and Patrick Peterson (formerly of LSU). If the NCAA decides that Lyles helped lead them to their respective schools, he would become a booster and thus a walking violation of NCAA rules. If (or when) the NCAA crackdown on scouting services takes its next step, it will be because of the spotlight on Lyles. -- CP
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Alcorn State, Arkansas, AT&T Park, Auburn, Big East, Big Ten, Bilal Powell, Cal, California Memorial Stadium, Case Keenum, Case Keenum's knee, CBSSports.com College Football 100, Charlie Strong, Complete Scouting Services, Danny O'Brien, DeClaen Sullivan, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Garrett Wolfe, Gary Crowton, Georgia, Gordie Lockbaum, Holy Cross, Insight Bowl, James Franklin, Jarrell Harrison, Jeff Tedford, Jeremy Wright, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Lache Seastrunk, LaMichael James, Little Caesar's Bowl, Logan Thomas, Louisville, LSU, LSU, Marcus Coker, Maryland, Miami, Mike O'Cain, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pac-12, Patrick Peterson, Ralph Friedgen, Randy Edsall, SEC, South Carolina, Spencer Ware, Stanford, Steve McNair, Sun Belt, T.Y. Hilton, Torrey Smith, Tyrod Taylor, UCLA, USC, Utah, Victor Anderson, Virginia Tech, Will Lyles
Posted on: March 28, 2011 7:02 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 7:04 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Louisville , who started spring practice last Monday.
First-year coach Charlie Strong turned last year's team of veterans into winners, but can he repeat the success with much less experience on the roster?
After the departure of Bobby Petrino, Louisville football fell into the cellar of the Big East. In three seasons under head coach Steve Kragthrope, the Cardinals only won five conference games. They had gone from being conference champs to conference chumps, a change had to be made.
Enter Charlie Strong. A seasoned veteran in the coaching community, Strong entered with a tenacity and energy that had clearly been building up during his 20+ years on the sideline as an assistant. After being passed over for multiple opportunities, Louisville was the school that gave him the keys to the kingdom. Cardinals fans may have been skeptical of the long-time assistant coach, but after seeing what he was able to do in 2010 there is only optimism for his potential with the program.
Louisville's 2010 squad was littered with frustrated upperclassmen, but that is to be expected after back-to-back 1-6 records in conference play. Strong saw potential in this group, and he was determined to get the most out of his players before they left the program. He liked the potential, but was dissatisfied with the attitudes - and he let them know. Strong ripped into the roster during his first team meeting in December 2009, shortly after his hiring. He criticized their lack of commitment in the classroom and on the field, introducing a new standard around Louisville football. Strong held up his end of the bargain, committing himself to the players and serving as an example of the energy and toughness he wanted to see on the field.
The result was their first postseason berth (and win) since the 2007 Orange Bowl win. It wasn't always pretty, but the turnaround was enough to revitalize the fan base and create a new sense of belief around the program. Even in the games that the Cardinals lost, they were almost always fighting. Five of the Cardinals' six losses were by 8 points or less. Not quite enough to become competitive in a wide-open Big East title race down the stretch, but enough to get the Cardinals back to the postseason.
One of the immediate concerns for Louisville in spring practice is their running game. At 175 yards/game, Louisville led the Big East in rushing offense last season. Much of that weight was carried by senior running back Bilal Powell. Powell racked up 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite missing a majority of two games due to injury/illness. He was spelled mostly by freshman Jeremy Wright, who picked up 327 yards and four touchdowns in limited appearances. But with Wright missing spring practice rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, opportunity will knock again for senior Victor Anderson.
Anderson exploded as a freshman in 2008, rushing for 1,047 yards and being named the Big East Rookie of the Year. But a nagging shoulder injury in 2009 eventually ended his sophomore campaign in surgery. Anderson stepped up with a 108 yard performance against Arkansas State early in 2010, but failed to find the end zone and saw his carries diminish as the season came to a close. With Powell graduated and Wright missing spring practice, Anderson can use the opportunity to reclaim his position in the running back rotation.
Finding those holes might be difficult early, with Louisville only returning one starter from last year's offensive line. Center Mario Benavides will be counted on to lead a new group of trench warriors in 2011, but for now he'll have to lead from the sidelines as he recovers from shoulder surgery. But Strong doesn't need the an experienced offensive line to lead vocally, he just needs tough players to lead by example.
"We have a lot of skill guys coming back," Strong explained to the media before spring practice began. "But what you don't ever want to do is let that be the core of your team. The toughness of your team is built up front, with the offensive and defensive lines.
"I don't mind leadership coming from that group [of skill players] if it has to, but the core of our team has to be from the front people."
That core group of offensive lineman will also have an important task this spring: getting used to a new quarterback. For now, that starting quarterback appears to be Will Stein. Formerly a walk-on, the redshirt junior is the heir apparent to the position with both of last year's starters (both seniors) gone. Louisville fans will want to see early enrollee Teddy Bridgewater, the nationally ranked dual-threat quarterback who chose the Cardinals over Miami after Randy Shannon was fired. But according to reports from practice, it seems like Bridgewater has a lot of learning left to do before he can line up with the first string.
But along with Bridgewater, there will be many inexperienced players who get to see increased time this spring due to injuries. Strong announced a list of 14 players who will miss spring practice due to injury and/or offseason surgery. The list contained several potential starters, including the aforementioned shoulder injury to Benavides, and yet another knee injury for redshirt freshman wide receiver Michaelee Harris. For a team that will be looking to replace 14 starters on offense and defense, it certainly does not help having those candidates on the sideline. Strong put is putting a positive spin on it, arguing that the extra development will only improve the depth in the long run.
So what can Cardinals fans expect from Louisville in the fall? My guess is that they will be a team that develops as the season is progressing. They kick off the season with Murray State, Florida International, and Kentucky before getting a bye week at the end of September. The advantage for the Cardinals will be game-speed experience and one true road test before ever having to play their first conference game.
The obvious disadvantage to Louisville's schedule is nine straight games without a break to close the season. The coaching staff can only hope that the health issues of the spring don't linger into the fall. A college football season often will take its toll on a team around late October/early November. With no weeks off in their conference schedule, surviving the Big East round-robin will be the ultimate gut-check.
Last year, that would have been time for the seniors to step forward and provide an example for this team. With a younger squad, the challenge becomes greater for Strong to get the most out of his players. When they are banged up and beaten down, they will look to Strong for energy and toughness.
Luckily, those qualities don't to seem to be in short supply with Charlie Strong.
Click here for more Spring Practice Primers
Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:51 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 12:57 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Louisville storms back from a two touchdown deficit to defeat Southern Mississippi 31-28
Offense: When Louisville came out throwing the ball, I must say I did not have high hopes for their prospects of winning. After all, running back Bilal Powell is one of the best rushers in the nation behind a veteran offensive line. But Southern Miss forced Justin Burke to keep the offense balanced for most of the game. When Louisville's offense needed to step up and eat some clock in the fourth quarter, they kept converting to keep drives alive. Eating up more than ten minutes of the clock in the final period, the rushing game finally sealed the deal for the Cardinals. GRADE: B+
Defense: Going to group special teams in with defense, in which case we have to discuss the moment the game changed. After a completely scoreless third quarter, Southern Miss scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 28-27 lead with no signs of Louisville really threatening to score since the first half. Freshman running back Jeremy Wright took the kickoff 95 yards the other way for an immediate answer that let the air out of Southern Mississippi's momentum. The Golden Eagles didn't really bounce back from that one, so the defense benefited? GRADE: B
Coaching: This has been a great week for first-year coach Charlie Strong. First he snags former Miami quarterback commit Teddy Bridgewater from the Hurricanes, adding the top-ranked dual threat quarterback to Louisville's 2011 recruiting class. After putting in some work on the future, Strong was able to get Louisville a win in their first bowl appearance since 2006. I have a feeling the Cardinals fans are pretty happy with their new head coach right now. GRADE: A-
Offense: The Golden Eagles hit the ground running in the first quarter, with two fast scoring strikes that shellshocked the Louisville defense. With how fast they started, the final takeaway for Southern Miss has to be a little sour on the offensive end. In particular, two fourth quarter drives of 17 and -7 yards that both ended in punts. If one of the highest scoring offenses can turn one of those drives into points we may be having a difference conversation. GRADE: C
Defense: While Southern Mississippi's ability to score quick provides an adavantage in close games, it was their defense's inability to stop Louisville from driving that ended up being their demise. Louisville chewed up 10:52 across two drives in the fourth quarter. Those drives only produced three points, but the time they chewed up left Southern Mississippi with only real opportunity to put together a game-winning drive. They did not give up 40+ points or any absurd statistics, but as projected, Southern Mississippi's loss falls on the shoulders of the defense. GRADE: D
Coaching: Head coach Larry Fedora game in with just the right gameplan: they wanted to take some chances early, keep the speed up on offense, and hit them in the face early on defense. The only problem was being able to keep it up for 60 minutes. Hard to put the kickoff return on the coaches, but after Wright's return in the fourth quarter the Golden Eagles never really bounced back. GRADE: B
Considering the three blow outs served up in the first weekend of bowl games, the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl was a friendly change of pace. There were big plays, a two-score comeback, and the game came down to the last minutes. Can't ask for much more than that. Highlighted by this incredible reverse-WR pass to quarterback Austin Davis (WHICH HE GRABS WITH ONE HAND) I must say it was a pretty good game for a pre-Christmas bowl. GRADE: B+
Posted on: December 20, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 10:27 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Why to watch: These teams have already started to tussle, with Southern Miss getting disrespected by their former conference rivals , and there has already been promise of payback on the field. Additionally, the game pits former colleagues against each other. Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora and Louisville's Charlie Strong served on the Florida coaching staff together from 2002-2004. The Golden Eagles are entering their ninth straight postseason appearance, while Strong has succeeded in getting Louisville back into the bowl schedule for the first time since 2006. Both teams have a lot of pride on the line, and with these early bowls "showing up" sometimes is more than half the battle. I expect both teams to show up ready to play on Tuesday.
Keys to victory for Louisville: Louisville's best performances all season involved a heavy dose of the running game. Mostly that will be anchored by running back Bilal Powell (120.9 yards per game), but even when Powell was banged up reserves Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson carried the ball well behind the Cardinals offensive line.
Running the ball will be key to keeping the high-scoring Southern Miss offense off the field, as well as setting up the play-action down the field. It would not be surprising to see both Adam Froman and Justin Burke at quarterback for Louisville, and both of them should have no trouble finding an opportunity to take advantage of a Southern Miss secondary that gave up an average of 248.8 yards per game through the air in 2010.
Keys to victory for Southern Miss: West Virginia was one of the few teams to really shut down Louisville's rushing attack, holding Powell to zero yards in one half of play and getting the Cardinals' leading rusher sent to the bench at the break. The Golden Eagles are no West Virginia, but they can try to do just enough to create drive-ending stops. If they can keep the Cardinals from getting in the end zone, Austin Davis and the offense should be able to do work on Louisville's defense. Strong has improved the Cardinals defense, but they were inconsistent across 2010.
Davis was very consistent under center for Southern Miss, throwing for 2989 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He has plenty of weapons, and the offense scheme stretches the defense to leave seams open for the running game. If Davis can get comfortable and hit a rhythm, and the aforementioned Golden Eagles secondary can keep from giving up the big play, Southern Miss could answer Louisville's pre-game taunts with a bowl victory.
The Beef 'O' Bradys St. Petersburg Bowl is like: Hot Tub Time Machine - I mean, it is kind of absurd. A collegiate bowl game named after Beef 'O' Brady's. No respectable game should have that many apostrophes in the official title. But similar to Hot Tub Time Machine , there is some promise to the game. It may come in the form of cheap thrills (fights, wacky turnovers, etc.), but there is enough on the line for both teams to know that they will at least be fired up to play. It will likely not be the game we remember the most come January (or Wednesday), but there is enough intrigue to sit down and check it out.
Tags: Adam Froman, Austin Davis, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Preview, Big East, Bilal Powell, Bowl Bonanza, Bowl Preview, Charlie Strong, Conference USA, Jeremy Wright, Justin Burke, Larry Fedora, Louisville, Southern Miss, Southern Mississippi, St. Petersburg Bowl Preview, Victor Anderson
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 12:26 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Good things can come to those who wait - South Florida running back sixth year running back Moise Plancher has dealt with a torn ACL, dislocated elbow, and shoulder surgery since enrolling in Tampa, but finally saw his hard work pay off on Wednesday night against Rutgers. Plancher rushed 21 times for a career-high 135 yards, leading the Bulls in their 28-27 squeaker of a victory in Tampa. It was ironic that the youngest team in the FBS (South Florida) collected the 100th program victory against the oldest team in college football, but for first-year coach Skip Holtz it was perfect timing. The Bulls are now 5-3. and with four games left in conference play have plenty of time to make their case for a favorable bowl bid.
2. Louisville's rushing attack is interchangeable - Heading into Saturday's matchup with Syracuse, Cardinal fans were nervous about facing the Orange defense without leading rusher Bilal Powell. Powell leads the Big East and ranks among the top five nationally, but backup running back Jeremy Wright had no trouble filling in and picking up Powell's usual production. Wright rushed 19 times for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to anchor Louisville's offensive attack against the Orange in the Carrier Dome. With the win, first-year coach Charlie Strong came one game closer to bowl eligibility, a feat for a team that looked destined for disappointment earlier in the season.
3. Pittsburgh may have been off, but their hold on the conference was threatened - The Panthers were off this week, securing their undefeated conference record for another week. But what we learned in the Big East this week was a little bit more about some teams the Panthers have in their future. Pittsburgh still has to face West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida, and Connecticut to before claiming any conference accolades, and after seeing the Bulls in action against Rutgers that might be more difficult than expected. Louisville proved that there is no "elite" status in the conference, and the Panthers are no exception just because they have yet to lose a game in league play. Any of Pittsburgh's remaining opponents have the talent on board to knock off the Panthers, so there are no guarantees in the final weeks of Big East play.