Thursday, September 03, 2009


Yet another BCS conference that fails to impress. The Big East lost a boatload of talent to the NFL last year, turning good teams into solid teams, solid teams into bad teams, and bad teams into crappy teams. Fun fact: the Big East has ZERO teams ranked in the pre-season Top 25. Cincinatti was 29th, followed by Pitt at 30th, then WVU, and Rutgers. The Mountain West has three teams in the Top 25.

The Bearcats surprised everyone with an 11-3 record and their first BCS appearance. QB-WR combo Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard return. The defense only returns one starter, but compared to how much talent the rest of the conference lost, Cincinnati's not doing too bad. Cincinnati will get the BCS berth from the Big East, essentially by default. Their offense will be explosive, their defense vulnerable, but who the hell else will challenge them?

Key Games:
9/19 @ Oregon State
10/15 @ South Florida
11/13 vs. West Virginia
12/5 @ Pittsburgh

10-3, Big East Champion, BCS Bowl loss

The electrifying and overrated Pat White is gone. But RB Noel Devine remains. Devine rushed for 1,289 yards last year, and should finally emerge from White's shadow. Jarrett Brown will replace White (these names remind me of Reservoir Dogs) under center. Well WVU is never under center, so he'll replace White in the gun. Not surprisingly, Brown spent a lot of time as a slot receiver and runningback in 2008. The Mountaineers have some holes on defense and in their O-line, they also have to travel to Ohio to play Cincinnati. That's why they'll finish 2nd.

Key Games:
9/19 @ Auburn
10/30 @ South Florida
11/13 @ Cincinnati
11/27 vs. Pittsburgh

8-5, loss in Sun Bowl

Matt Grothe starts for his 4th and final year at USF. He's a gunslinger, barely throwing more TDs than INTs, but he's South Florida's biggest and only offensive threat. He's lead the team in rushing all 3 years he's been there, which is really due to a lack of good RBs than anything else. The Bulls need to find replacements on their offensive line to protect Grothe, or they'll struggle to attain bowl eligibility. Yet this is the Big East, so that means they'll be good enough to finish 3rd. Both Cincinnati and West Virginia have to travel down to Tampa, and play USF at night, which is a very tall task. I think the Bulls will steal one of those games.

Key Games:
10/15 vs. Cincinnati
10/24 @ Pittsburgh
10/30 vs. West Virginia
11/12 @ Rutgers
11/21 vs. Louisville

8-5, loss in Gator Bowl

I'll give credit to most Big East teams for scheduling halfway decent non-conference opponents. All except Rutgers, that is. Howard, Florida International, Texas Southern, Maryland, Army. These cupcakes and RU's proximity to New York will propel them to an undeserved spot in the Top 25. But they are solid, returning all 5 on their O-line (as well as 4 backups), and pretty much their entire RB corps. They also face most of the top Big East teams at home.

Key Games:
9/7 vs. Cincinnati
10/16 vs. Pittsburgh
11/12 vs. South Florida
12/5 vs. West Virginia

8-5, Meineke Bowl win

The Panthers are good at linebacker, D-Line and WR. That's pretty much it. The QB spot is still wide open, with no clear candidates separating from the pack. They lost some good talent to the NFL on the defensive side of things. They'll muddle around the Big East and romp on the crappy teams. But they'll struggle in every game against average talent or better.

Key Games:
10/24 vs. South Florida
11/14 vs. Notre Dame
11/27 @ West Virginia
12/5 vs. Cincinnati

7-6, International Bowl win

And the rest in alphabetical order...

UConn was a pleasant surprise last year, starting the season 5-0, and finishing 8-5. But they lost a lot of talent to the Draft, including RB Donald Brown in the 1st round to the Colts. They have a decent D, but their offense will struggle without Brown.

RB Victor Anderson rushed for 1,047 yards his freshman year, but he's the lone bright spot on a very ugly Louisville squad. Their QB situation is one of the biggest messes in college football. They have a transfer from NC State, a JuCo transfer, and a redshirt freshman all competing for the position, with none good enough to win the spot yet. UL will be seeing a lot of L's this year.

As if you needed more reason to hate Syracuse, hometown zero Greg Paulus transferred from Duke to play football for the Orange. So now Cuse has their own natural lameness, but also the lameness of Duke. The Orange has a new coach, and allegedly have a new direction, but they still suck.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator and ex-BC boss Jeff Jagodzinski. They named QB coach Greg Olson as his successor. In case you forgot, Coach Jags was fired by Boston College for intervieiwing to be an NFL head coach. He never got an offer for that position, but wound up in Tampa Bay as a coordinator.

He rode the Matt Ryan wave of success as long as he could, but it just ran out of momentum for him.



Tight-end has been a bit disappointing for the Patriots the last 2 or 3 years. Ben Watson went from a promising threat (643 yards, 49 receptions, 13.1 yard average in 2006) to an unreliable and inconsistent second-thought on the offense. Watson was 2nd on the team with his 49 receptions in 2006. But in 2007, with the emergence of Moss and Welker, Watson's production expectedly dropped. But what wasn't expected was that without consistent passes coming his way, Watson struggled to hang onto the ball.

In response to this, the Patriots acquired veterans Chris Baker and Alex Smith. With up-and-coming Texas product David Thomas, there's simply too many people for too few spots.

The Patriots don't need Dallas Clark or Jason Witten production out of TE. They need good blocking (since they lack fullbacks), good pass protection, and outlets. Watson's numbers were so good in 2006 because the receiving corps sucked on toast. Pro Bowl numbers from any tight-end this year means that there's something wrong with the Patriots offense.

Watson is out, or so it seems. He hasn't been in preseason games. It feels like the Patriots might be trying to deal him for a late pick, which they customarily do when they're about to release someone. Even if Watson stays, it looks like Chris Baker will get most of the snaps at the position.

David Thomas hasn't turned into the producer I thought he might be, but in an offense with Moss and Welker, how often does your #2 TE get on the field and run a route? Thomas is a good 250 pound blocker to have in short yardage and goal line situations.

Regardless of who makes the team at this spot, I think it will be a decent year for Patriot tight-ends. Again, there won't be any eye-popping numbers. But there will be blocking, and there will be outlet passing, and there will be some TDs. Give Brady a good tight-end, and he will find him in big spots. That good tight-end is Chris Baker.