Friday, August 5, 2011
Four teams set to open camp
By Andrea Adelson
Four Big East teams are set to open camp Friday. Here are a few burning questions for each.
1. Quarterbacks. One of the biggest question perhaps in all of the Big East is how the defending Big East BCS representative is going to fare at the quarterback position. Coach Paul Pasqualoni said at media day that he would like to make a decision as quickly as possible, but he also wants to do his due diligence in evaluating Michael Nebrich, Michael Box, Scott McCummings and Johnny McEntee. He is not leaning one way right now.
2. Pasqualoni makes his return. Many people wonder whether they are going to see the Pasqualoni from the first part of his tenure at Syracuse or his last. This was not a sexy hire by any stretch, but Pasqualoni does have Big East ties and roots in the area. He has done well in recruiting so far. He has a defensive background and should have a pretty solid unit. But it has been seven years since he was last a head coach. We will see how he adjusts.
1. Cellar dwellers?Many fans have taken umbrage with the preseason media poll, which featured Rutgers coming in at No. 8. There is talent at Rutgers, but the big question is whether it can all come together. Is Frank Cignetti the guy to get the talent on offense maximized to its potential? Will the scheme he brings in translate to better offensive line play? Have all the position changes on defense shored up a unit that was shaky at times in 2010? Greg Schiano has done a lot this offseason to try to improve this team. Now we get to see whether his changes work.
2. Savon Huggins. Admit it. You want to know as badly as I do whether Huggins is as good as advertised. He has been in school since June, but we finally get our first glimpse of him on the practice field Friday. Expectations are high for him to emerge as the starter right out of the gate.
1. How does the team handle success? Syracuse made a bowl game in 2010 for the first time since 2004. So how does a team so used to losing all of a sudden handle winning? It the bowl game something that Syracuse can use to build momentum, or are players going to feel pressure to sustain the success they had last season? Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones believes the bowl game was the confidence booster this program needed. We will see how much more confident Syracuse plays this season.
2. Who are the linebackers?A position of strength has turned into a position of question this season with the loss of senior leaders Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, who were also the team's top two tacklers. Marquis Spruill moves to middle linebacker and has starting experience, but that is about it. Syracuse is looking at true freshman Dyshawn Davis potentially starting at one spot. At the other, Dan Vaughan has playing experience at least but not much starting experience. Behind them there is little experience as well.
1. The Holgorsen Era begins. How will Dana Holgorsen do in Year 1 as a head coach? The coaches apparently do not think much of the increased expectations many others have with him in charge, as West Virginia goes into the season unranked in that poll. Is too much being made of his ability to turn average Joes into incredible supernatural talents? He has made stars everywhere he has been, so why expect anything less now?
2. Who emerges at running back?This has to be one of the most popular questions I get in the mailbags and on the weekly chats. West Virginia has a crop of talented backs, most notably freshmen Vernard Roberts, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison. Not to mention Shawne Alston and Trey Johnson. With so many options, it will be interesting to see how Holgorsen divides up the workload and whether he decides to redshirt one of his first-year players.