- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Heather Dinich did this for the ACC and Adam Rittenberg followed with the Big Ten, so I'm jumping on board with the Big East. It's time to examine offensive and defensive units that are in need of repair in the league and see which ones are closer to recovering.
Up first: offense.
In need of repair
1. Louisville: Steve Kragthorpe took over as his own offensive coordinator last year with pretty disastrous results. The Cardinals averaged only 18.1 points per game, their lowest total in more than a decade, while finishing last in rushing offense. They were particularly brutal in the red zone, where they left a lot of points on the table.
2. Syracuse: The Orange offense did come on late in the year, scoring 31 points each against Rutgers and Connecticut. Before that, however, Syracuse had totaled 26 points in its previous three games, all losses. The mid-year dismissal/defection of receiver Mike Williams stymied the passing attack for a while, and Syracuse had the worst turnover margin in the league.
3. Rutgers: The stats say the Scarlet Knights finished fourth in the league in scoring at 28.8 points per game. In reality, they benefited by pouring on the points against the weaker opponents on the schedule (and there were a lot of those). Rutgers also had a lot of scores either produced or set up by its defense and special teams. But the offense lacked a powerful running game or a lot of big threats in the passing game outside of Tim Brown.
Fastest road to recovery
1. Rutgers: This is a team that has a lot of pieces to be a good offense, starting with quarterback Tom Savage and receiver Mohamed Sanu. The wideouts as a group have greatly improved this spring, and with either an improved Joe Martinek, De'Antwan Williams or some incoming freshmen this summer, coach Greg Schiano hopes the running game will become more explosive. It will all rest, however, on how well a rebuilt offensive line comes together.
2. Syracuse: Head coach Doug Marrone has take over the reins of the offense after letting Rob Spence go. Marrone was the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints before getting the Syracuse job, and there were whispers that he had a bigger hand than usual in the Orange's last two games last season, when they broke out some new tricks to get back on track. Syracuse has strong running backs and some emerging receivers. The Orange need quarterback Ryan Nassib or Charley Loeb to become a real leader.
3. Louisville: The Cardinals' offenses looked pretty good at times this spring, but it was also going up against a patchwork defense. New offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is installing a Florida-esque spread attack, and while Louisville has good tailbacks, the receiving position is full of mostly unproven guys outside of Doug Beaumont. Adam Froman and Justin Burke are still battling to win the starting quarterback job, but neither of them has shown to this point that they are at the elite level. The Cardinals should improve on that 18.1 points per game average, but the question is how much.