Thursday, June 3, 2010
Who's fully stocked in the Big East?
By Brian Bennett
If Dion Lewis were to go down, Pitt could still run the ball well with Ray Graham, Chris Burns and Jason Douglas, plus battering ram fullback Henry Hynoski.
But the Panthers aren't the only team in the Big East that's prepared for injuries and other scenarios at key spots.
There are few players as dynamic as Noel Devine, but West Virginia believes it may have the next divine runner in Tavon Austin. Jock Sanders has also ably filled in at tailback for Devine over the years, and Ryan Clarke is physical, bruising ball carrier.
Cincinnati and Connecticut are blessed with rare quarterback depth. While Zach Collaros should be a star, his backup -- Chazz Anderson -- has already won important games. Same goes with UConn, which will start Zach Frazer but feels comfortable with Cody Endres leading the team. And both teams have third-stringers who can play.
The Bearcats are loaded at wide receiver with Armon Binns, D.J. Woods and Vidal Hazelton. Take one out, and it would hurt but not cripple the offense, as Marcus Barnett and two players who excelled in junior college -- Jamar Howard and Kenbrell Thompkins -- could pick up some slack.
UConn has the league's deepest cast at offensive line, which showed this spring when Adam Masters and Kevin Friend stepped in to compensate for injuries and excelled. The Huskies seem to just plug in and play on their O-line with little dropoff.
Rutgers might have its deepest defensive line ever under Greg Schiano, so deep that the Scarlet Knights didn't mind moving former top-rated recruit Antwan Lowery over to offense. South Florida lost George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul off its defensive line but could still go 8-to-10 deep there if youngsters develop as expected.
Depth isn't a word thrown around Syracuse much lately, but the Orange enter 2010 with a full stable of defensive backs, including five players who started a year ago and several others who earned valuable experience in 2009.
Overall, I'd say UConn, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are the deepest teams in the Big East. But depending on the position, some teams are better off than others.