Sunday, October 9, 2011
What we learned in the Big East
By Andrea Adelson
What did we learn in Week 6?
1. Rutgers off to fast start. We saw the defense starting to come together, but back-to-back dominating performances in Big East play cement what we thought we knew: This unit is one of the best in the league. The Scarlet Knights have been aggressive all season, and that was no different in a 34-10 win over Pitt. They had six sacks, six quarterback hurries and four forced turnovers. Rutgers has 20 sacks and 24 takeaways this season, after registering 17 sacks and 22 takeaways in all of 2010. The Scarlet Knights have now matched their win total from last season (four). More importantly, they are 2-0 in Big East play for just the second time in 21 seasons. The only other time Rutgers started 2-0 in league play was in 2006, when the Scarlet Knights finished tied for second at 5-2.
The Rutgers' defense harassed Pitt all afternoon -- forcing four interceptions and causing six sacks.
2. Pitt is ...Can we really say what we learned about Pitt? The Panthers remain perhaps the most confounding team in the Big East. One week after destroying USF 44-17, they mustered a season-low 10 points against Rutgers and had major problems on the offensive line and at quarterback once again. "That is my job to get them ready to play and we absolutely played our worst game," coach Todd Graham said afterward. "That is embarrassing to me, and we have to go work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Pitt has now given up a whopping 27 sacks on the season, worst in the Big East.
3. New coordinator for Louisville. The Cardinals left offensive coordinator Mike Sanford at home and handed play-calling duties over to quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson against North Carolina. The switch did not exactly jump-start the offense, as Louisville managed season lows for points and total yards (273) in a 14-7 loss. Louisville now has had back-to-back games with fewer than 300 yards of offense, and has had only one game without turning the ball over. Coach Charlie Strong said Sanford was still on staff, but unsure of his role. You have to wonder whether it makes much difference on a team with a shaky offensive line and true freshman quarterback.
4. West Virginia plays in spurts.The Mountaineers ended up dominating UConn 43-16, but that was only after scoring 23 points in the third quarter. West Virginia scored 10 in the first half. It has been a team that has played in spurts this season, and coach Dana Holgorsen is still waiting on this team to play a complete game from start to finish.
5. Syracuse pass D needs help. The Orange have plenty of youth in their secondary, and have been banged up, too. But still, there should be no excuses in giving up 320 yards to Tulane and quarterback Ryan Griffin. Consider that was his first 300-yard game of the season, and he threw for just 74 yards last week against Army. Syracuse has given up four 300-yard games in its six contests so far, and nearly gave up 300 last week to Rutgers (297). The Orange are going to have to make adjustments in the bye as they get ready for West Virginia in a Friday night game Oct. 21.