Thursday, October 27, 2011
What to watch in the Big East
By Andrea Adelson
Here are five storylines to watch in the Big East on Saturday.
1. Moving on. Putting a big win behind you is just as important as putting a tough loss behind you. All four teams playing Saturday are going to have to move on, so to speak. For Syracuse, that means managing the success of a 49-23 win over West Virginia and breaking a two-game losing streak to Louisville. For the Cardinals, that means trying to win back-to-back games in league play for the first time under Charlie Strong. For Rutgers and West Virginia, that means trying to stay alive in what is a wide-open league race right now. How each team responds from last week will be a huge key to watch.
Syracuse's Antwon Bailey has rushed for 100 yards in four consecutive games.
2. Can Louisville make it three straight? Syracuse coach Doug Marrone has not beaten the Cardinals in his previous two games against them. What have they done right? "Pressure, man-to-man, running the football, pounding it. It's not a secret," Marrone said. "Those guys have done a good job of that and they've been able to beat us. We've been inconsistent in handling those things, so those are the challenges that we're faced with. I don't think it's a matter of giving away a game plan or not, so that's exactly what it is. Defensively, it's almost the same type of approach as Rutgers." If that is the case, Syracuse better hope it took some valuable lessons from its double-overtime loss to the Scarlet Knights earlier this year.
3. Let's get physical. One of the big reasons West Virginia lost to Syracuse is because the Mountaineers got pushed around on the offensive and defensive lines. That cannot happen again. Rutgers is not as good as Syracuse on the offensive line and with its run game, so there could be opportunities to pressure true freshman quarterback Gary Nova. But the West Virginia offensive line is going to have to find a way to push back against a pressure-loving Rutgers defense that is much more aggressive with Greg Schiano calling the plays. The Mountaineers cannot afford to have Geno Smith constantly hitting the turf.
4. Will Rutgers try to follow Syracuse's plan? One of the big parts of the Orange game plan against West Virginia was to get the tight end involved. Rutgers has been fighting some major inconsistency from D.C. Jefferson, but he has all the talent and potential to start being a force in the pass game. What Syracuse did last week could spur Rutgers to try to get him and Paul Carrezola going. The two have 13 catches between them this season.
5. Can Antwon Bailey make it five straight 100-yard games? The Orange run game has really picked things up of late, and that means Syracuse has picked things up. This team is best when the run is able to set up the pass. But it now faces a Louisville defense that has allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season -- from FCS Murray State. Louisville ranks No. 14 in the nation in run defense and is quite capable of shutting down the Orange.