Thursday, September 4, 2008

Big East - Week One


Week One Standouts

Donald Brown, Connecticut:
With junior Andre Dixon sidelined with an ankle injury, Donald Brown took the bulk of the carries in the Huskies 35-3 win over Hofstra. Dixon finished the game with 146 yards and four first half touchdowns. It was the seventh 100-yard game in Brown's career and his 23 carries were the fourth most he has ever registered in a game.

Dustin Grutza, Cincinnati:
Grutza took his first snap in almost a year on Thursday night after losing his job to Ben Mauk. Grutza was efficient and made Bearcat fans forget about his past misfortunes with a four touchdown game. Grutza threw for 296 yards and completed 75% of his passes including a 47-yard completion to Marshwan Gilyard. Grutza also rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown in the 40-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky.

Alric Arnett, West Virginia: Pat White started where he left off, throwing five touchdowns and rushing for 63 yards in the 48-21 win over Villanova. Two of those touchdown passes were caught by junior receiver Alric Arnett. West Virginia has lacked a big play receiver and with four catches for 70 yards, the speedster might be just what the Mountaineers are looking for. Arnett's two touchdown catches included one in traffic and a 34 yard over the shoulder grab.

South Florida Defense: The Bulls held Tennessee-Martin to a total of 97 yards in their 56-7 victory. South Florida's defense did not allow a single point (The Skyhawks scored their only touchdown on a fumble recovery) and recorded a total of eight tackles for a loss. Tennessee-Martin could not run or pass the ball, converting just one of fourteen third down conversions. Senior linebacker Tyrone Mckenzie led the team with five tackles and a sack. Sophomore linebacker Sabbath Joseph also recorded five tackles. George Selvie did not have a sack but was putting on pressure all day long.

Laying an egg

During the off season, Pittsburgh was the sexy selection of the conference. They were all over people's sleeper boards and even broke into the Coaches Poll at number 25. Their opener versus Bowling Green was going according to plan as Dave Wannstedt and his Panthers held a two touchdown lead midway through the second quarter. However, the story of the game quickly became Pittsburgh's turnovers and inability to rush the football--they were held to just 46 yards on the ground over the final three quarters. Star running back LeSean McCoy finished the game with 71 yards and a touchdown but was not able to break any big runs later in the game. Pittsburgh’s final five offensive possessions resulted in two fumbles, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception thrown by quarterback Billy Stull. The Panthers out-gained Bowling Green and Stull was moderately efficient, but Pittsburgh was just unable to recover from their three fumbles and Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan's rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. This is the first time Pittsburgh has ever lost an opener against a MAC school; not a great start to what was supposed to be a promising season.

The expectations for Syracuse this season were beyond low. Not only did everyone in college football have them slated to finish last in the conference, but the Orange were ranked in several magazines as the worst BCS school in the country. Syracuse's performance in the second half at Northwestern proved many of these projections correct. The first half between the two communications schools looked like an opener between two conference cellar-dwellers. But in the second half, the Wildcats took control of the ground and the game. Running Back Tyrell Sutton was able to run all over Syracuse finishing with 144 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. On defense the Orange looked lost and many times out of position. Senior strong safety A.J Brown finished the game with 11 tackles. Linebacker Derrell Smith played his first game at the position and finished with an interception and seven tackles. Syracuse's passing game was inept--no big plays or consistent completions while Andrew Robinson was held to only 103 yards through the air. With few playmakers and nearly no depth the Orange’s 30-10 loss is just the beginning of a long season in upstate New York.

Hunter Cantwell and Louisville didn't get the start they wanted, getting blown out 27-2 blowout against in-state rival Kentucky. Cantwell, ranked the 5th best senior quarterback prospect by the NFL Draft Bible, threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter and was held to only 152 yards in the game. To be fair, Cantwell was pressured for most of the game and didn't have much time to complete many big passes. Sophomore wideout Doug Beaumont showed some nice hands in the game, catching nine balls for 77 yards. Louisville had only one impressive drive which ended in a blocked field goal.

Photo Credit: University of South Florida