What we learned in the Big East, Week 5

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
10:00
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[+] EnlargeEndres
David Butler II/US PresswireCody Endres has remained steady since taking over as the starting quarterback.
1. UConn is starting to figure things out: The Huskies were a preseason darling who fell flat in their first two games against FBS opponents. But since inserting Cody Endres as the starting quarterback last week, UConn has scored 71 points in its past six quarters. The defense is starting to come around to, shutting out Vanderbilt in the second half on Saturday after allowing too many big plays in the first 30 minutes. Granted, the competition was merely Buffalo and Vanderbilt. But Connecticut looks like it's in a whole lot better shape than next week's opponent. Speaking of which ...

2. Rutgers is in turmoil: Another injury to quarterback Tom Savage -- this time, adding a hurt throwing hand to his bruised ribs -- forced Rutgers to go with a true freshman under center against Tulane. Chas Dodd actually played pretty well, by the low standards of the Scarlet Knights offense. This team is the anti-Oregon; it's managed a total of 46 points against Florida International, North Carolina and Tulane. Some fans will no doubt call for Dodd to start over the struggling Savage this week, though that's unlikely. Losing to Tulane at home is inexcusable, and Greg Schiano has to turn this team around before Friday's conference opener.

3. Ray Graham is a budding superstar: Dion Lewis didn't play for Pittsburgh on Saturday, but the Panthers hardly needed him. Graham ran 29 times for 277 yards and three scores against Florida International, falling just 36 yards short of Tony Dorsett's single-game school record. For the season, Graham has gained 492 yards and is averaging a stunning 9.5 yards per carry, while Lewis had just 143 yards and 3.0 yards per carry. Dave Wannstedt says Lewis is still his starter, but Graham has earned the right to at least get equal carries going forward.

4. Coaching changes make a difference: We still don't know what we know about South Florida, which has beaten three patsies and lost to Florida this season. Louisville has the record (2-2) you'd expect at this point, with wins against Eastern Kentucky and Arkansas State and losses to Oregon State and Kentucky. But watching both teams, it's clear that each has benefited from the offseason coaching change. The Bulls look like a more complete team under Skip Holtz, adding a solid running game to the offense instead of simply relying on the quarterback to get things done. And although Louisville let up in the second half against Arkansas State, the Cardinals zoomed out to a dominating 31-7 halftime lead on the road, the kind of performance rarely seen in Steve Kragthorpe's tenure. This team believes in Charlie Strong, and it won't be an easy out in conference play.

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BIG EAST TEAM COVERAGE