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Spotlight on: Offensive line

Some of you may have noticed there are no offensive linemen in my final Top 25 countdown of the best players in the Big East in 2011.

Spoiler alert: there are no offensive linemen in the Top 3, either. Yeah, I know you have all figured that out already.

There is a reason I left out even the better offensive linemen in the league from my rankings. Offensive line play across the Big East was pretty ugly for most of 2011. Virtually every single program had problems, whether it was in pass protection or in the run game. It was so bad, that five of the seven programs back for 2012 ranked No. 83 or worse in sacks allowed; five of the seven ranked No. 74 or worse in rushing offense.

Now, consider that nine of the 10 linemen honored on the Big East first or second team are gone, and the picture gets a little uglier for 2012. So you see why I think offensive line play in the Big East is squarely in the spotlight. Every team has major holes to fill this spring:

UConn has to replace center Moe Petrus and Mike Ryan

Cincinnati has to replace Alex Hoffman and Randy Martinez

Louisville has to replace Ryan Kessling

Pitt has to replace Lucas Nix and Greg Gaskins

Rutgers has to replace Art Forst, Caleb Ruch and Desmond Wynn

Syracuse has to replace Andrew Tiller and Michael Hay

USF has to replace Chaz Hine and Jeremiah Warren

All of this adds up to yet another crucial season to straighten out some of the problems that plagued these teams last year.

NCAA rankings, sacks allowed

USF, No. 30

Cincinnati, No. 50

Rutgers, No. 83

Syracuse, No. 90

Louisville, No. 110

UConn, No. 117

Pitt, No. 120

NCAA rankings, rushing offense

USF, No. 31

Cincinnati, No. 36

Pitt, No. 74

Louisville, No. 93

Syracuse, No. 95

UConn, No. 97

Rutgers, No. 112