- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's take one final peek into the mailbag before the weekend begins.
Mike in Southern R Country, N.J., writes: AA. Love the blog. My comment/question: With the loss of the AQ status, where does the Big East end up? I'm a huge Rutgers fan and have been opposed to the conference realignment, but at this point wouldn't dissolving the BE be a better option instead of trying to be a strong conference by just filling holes with mediocre football programs?
Andrea Adelson: Thanks for reading, Mike. Realignment has hit the Big East hard, but I don't see the benefit of dissolving the league. First of all, the Big East will be making more money from its next TV contract than it does right now, despite the perception of the teams coming in. Football TV money is what drives the train. Second, where would the schools in the Big East go to play football? I don't see the Big Ten opening its arms to take refugees -- not at this point. There is no question losing AQ status hurts. But I don't think it means the Big East will forever be banished to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Go undefeated, and you presumably have a shot if you are in the Big East.
Johnny Panther in Darby, Pa., writes: Tell us why the Panthers will win the Big East.
Adelson: Here is my argument for Pitt. The Panthers should have the best rushing team in the Big East, with the return of Ray Graham, plus the emergence of Isaac Bennett and potential of Rushel Shell. Add in a rushing mastermind in Paul Chryst, and the Panthers could beat teams by slowly wearing them down with their run game. Defensively, Pitt should be solid in the secondary, particularly at safety. Aaron Donald returns as one of the best linemen in the Big East. This is not a team that is going to throw up 40 points a game, but if it is able to play ball control and play well on defense, Pitt absolutely has a shot at winning the Big East.
Michael Stephenson in Louisville writes: Andrea, the reason Athlon picked Teddy Bridgewater over B.J. Daniels is obviously because this it a projection for the 2012 season. If you look at their stats, Bridgewater was not too far behind Daniels last season, and he did not even start the first three games. Athlon obviously (and correctly I believe) feels that with Bridgewater having such a great season as a true freshman, that his upside and room for making a greater jump in improvement this coming season is greater than that of Daniels, who is a senior and is probably getting close to peaking with his abilities. Also consider that Bridgewater was playing behind a bunch of Baby Hueys on the O-line and running for his life much of the time last season. This is, of course, is a projection based purely on speculation that Bridgewater will pass Daniels by this coming season. I believe he will. Shawn Watson has stated that Bridgewater is light years ahead of where he was last season at understanding how to manage the game and make the right throws.
Adelson: I have no doubt about Bridgewater's potential, either, Michael. But I still have concerns over the offensive line, particularly the way it played against bigger, more physical teams. That bowl performance against NC State has to be an aberration or Bridgewater will be running for his life again. Louisville also must develop a more consistent run game and more consistent playmakers at receiver to help him out. The dreaded sophomore slump must be avoided. The reason I thought Daniels would be ranked on top is because many believe he will finally reach his potential in his senior season. I don't think it is fair to say he has possibly peaked because he has started more games, and perhaps not done as well as projected. He has had injured receivers the past two seasons, severely hampering chemistry and rhythm. If everybody stays healthy, USF should have more depth than Louisville at receiver, which will no doubt help Daniels. I understand why Athlon Sports ranked Bridgewater on top, but I think Daniels goes in as No. 1, with Bridgewater a close No. 2.
Allan in Louisville writes: Quick question(s) - What do you think the likelihood is that Louisville goes undefeated? Also, do you expect them to be favored in every game they play this year? Thanks!
Adelson: Though Louisville is more experienced than last year, I think this is still a really young team. I don't expect an undefeated season. As for being favored, it is too tough to tell right now about the games later in the season. Louisville should be favored in its nonconference games. If projections hold firm, the only game I see right now that would have Louisville as the underdog would be the finale at Rutgers. But again, all that depends on how the season goes for everyone.
Rob in NJ All Day writes: AA, Why does South Florida always pick up good transfers? Also do you think bringing in these transfers will hurt team chemistry with existing D-linemen? Keep up the good work with all the RU videos.
Adelson: Thanks, Rob. If you look at the biggest transfers of note -- Darrell Scott, Chris Dunkley, Mike McFarland and Aaron Lynch -- all of them have ties to the state of Florida and/or Tampa area. There also is an opportunity to be an immediate contributor, as was the case with Scott, who led the team in rushing last season. I don't think the chemistry will be hurt with Lynch on board. You have to think a good player will raise the level of play of those around him.