Sunday, October 16, 2011
What we learned in the Big East: Week 7
By Andrea Adelson
What did we learn in the Big East in Week 7?
1. The offense went missing. West Virginia and its prolific offense took a seat on the couch this week, leaving the rest of the league in the spotlight. Most of us had to hide our eyes at what passed for offense Saturday. UConn, Louisville and Pitt failed to score offensive touchdowns. USF had one. The highest scoring team -- Cincinnati with 25 points. That would be 20 points below its season average. Only the Bearcats and Rutgers went over 20 points. It was the ugliest weekend of the season.
With almost no passing game, Utah was able to key on Pitt running back Ray Graham.
2. Pitt is in trouble. The Panthers have now scored 10 points of offense in the past two games combined, reaching rock bottom in a 26-14 loss to Utah in which they scored on a kickoff return and a blocked punt. Simply put: they have no quarterback. Tino Sunseri has had one good game out of the seven he has started. True freshman backup Trey Anderson has looked totally overwhelmed. Teams know they can key in on Ray Graham when there is no threat to pass. Pitt finished with 50 yards passing, and starting receivers Devin Street, Mike Shanahan and Cam Saddler combined for -- NO catches. What is supposed to be a "high-octane" offense is sputtering like a clunker that is running on molasses. If Pitt continues to play this poorly, its bowl prospects will be in serious jeopardy.
3. The USF Bulls teased. Again. This is a team that starts off hot, but then disappoints. With 16 days between games, you would have thought the Bulls would have played a bit better against UConn. Four turnovers -- including three from B.J. Daniels -- cost them big time in a 16-10 loss. So did nine penalties and an inability to convert on third down for the second straight week. After a 4-0 start that featured three wins against cupcakes, the Bulls are now 0-2 in conference. Their two losses are to teams that currently have losing records (Pitt, UConn are each 3-4).
4. Rutgers, Cincinnati nearly bowl eligible. Two teams nobody picked anywhere near the top of the conference are now one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Both were 4-8 last season; both sit at 5-1 headed into next week. Both hit the road next week: Rutgers is at Louisville; Cincinnati goes to USF.
5. Defensive fronts dominated. Well, maybe the offense was bad, but the defensive lines had nice showings Saturday. Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe had a career-high 11 tackles and the Bearcats had four sacks. Rutgers had four sacks -- on a triple-option team. Pitt had seven sacks against Utah. USF tied a school record with seven sacks -- Ryne Giddins set a career high with two sacks and Sam Barrington set a career high with 1.5 sacks. Louisville had three. The only Big East team that did not have a sack this week was UConn -- the No. 2 team in the conference in that category headed into Week 7.