Sunday, October 14, 2012
What we learned in the Big East: Week 7
By Andrea Adelson
What did we learn in the Big East in Week 7? Glad you asked.
1. Going bowling. Louisville and Rutgers increased their records to 6-0 and are among the first teams in the nation to become bowl eligible. Congrats to both teams. At this point, Louisville has a great offense and an average defense. Rutgers has a great defense but an average offense. And it is still incredibly difficult to find ways to separate the teams at the top of the Big East. Both looked vulnerable at times Saturday -- Louisville trailed at halftime to Pitt; Rutgers was tied at 7 with Syracuse. Both had impressive performances in the second half -- the Cardinals from their offense, the Scarlet Knights from their defense -- to pull out the victories. But it still feels as if both teams need to make major improvements to truly be considered elite teams this season.
Senorise Perry and the Louisville offense have the Cardinals unbeaten at 6-0.
2. Hot seat watch, Part 1. I think we can officially add two more coaches to the hot seat watch. There were questions about Doug Marrone at Syracuse and Paul Pasqualoni at UConn going into the weekend, but those have grown after their respective losses. Let us start with Marrone. The Orange could not get out of their own way against Rutgers, continuing their alarming trend of turning over the football. Syracuse had four turnovers, giving the Orange 15 on the season with only five total takeaways. You are not going to win many games with that type of turnover margin. Red zone performance was terrible again. On four trips inside the Rutgers 20, Syracuse scored one touchdown. And then there was the blocked field goal that resulted in a Rutgers touchdown. Jamal Merrell had the block -- the same player who blocked a field goal attempt and extra-point attempt in Rutgers' win over Syracuse last year.
3. Hot seat watch, Part 2. As for UConn, the Huskies had plenty of success passing on Temple early, but then reverted to their usual form and managed zero points after scoring 14 in the first quarter. In fact, the Huskies had 192 yards in that opening quarter. They then managed 189 yards of offense for the rest of the game. Still, UConn had more first downs, more total yards, held the ball longer, had fewer turnovers and lost in overtime. Place-kicking, which had been a strength the past several years with Dave Teggart, was a disaster. Chad Christen missed four field goals for UConn, including the potential game winner in overtime. A team that loses to Western Michigan and Temple in the same season has major questions to answer.
4. Temple is on a roll. Nobody gave the Owls much of a chance to do anything in their first year in Big East play, but lo and behold they are 2-0 in the Big East. It is the first time that Temple has started 2-0 in Big East play AND has won consecutive league games. How is that for a statement? Steve Addazio has brought his "Temple Tough" brand of physical football to the Big East, and it has worked in the past two games. It may not have looked pretty at times, but the Owls can win games when they play physical, run consistently and limit the mistakes. Montel Harris has shown why he was such a huge get from Boston College, with his two straight 100-yard games. There is no quit in this team. In both its Big East wins, the chips were down at times, but the Owls showed a resiliency that should keep them in every game the rest of the way. Now here is one thing to keep in mind: Temple plays only 11 games this year, and that could hurt when it comes to bowl eligibility. The Owls did not have multiple gimme nonconference games like every other Big East team.
5. Cincinnati gets fired up after halftime. Well, at least against inferior competition. Against Fordham, Cincinnati scored on all five of its second-half possessions to outscore the Rams 35-11. Last week against Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati outscored the RedHawks 28-0 after the break. This is quite the uninspiring stretch before the Bearcats face longtime rival Louisville in two weeks. But against Toledo next week, Cincinnati is going to have to work on starting faster. If this team wants to beat Louisville, it cannot afford to go through the motions for an entire half. The Rockets are 6-1 and will present a tougher challenge than Miami and Fordham, so Cincinnati has to be ready.