Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Big East stock report
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
More reliable than Wall Street, here comes the weekly Big East stock report. Your bonus category this week is coach of the year race.
1. South Florida's defensive line: I ranked the Bulls' D-line No. 2 in my preseason position rankings primarily because I didn't know how good the newcomers would be. All questions were answered in the Florida State game, when this group played like one of the best in the country. "It would be a challenge for an NFL offensive line against this team," Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said this week.
2. B.J. Daniels: This may be heresy, but when I saw Daniels run the show for the Bulls, I didn't think Matt Grothe as much as I did a young Pat White. Not as fast as White, but with a stronger arm. Maybe Daniels will be the one who eventually breaks Grothe's yardage record.
3. Jonathan Freeny: The junior is developing into the pass-rusher that Rutgers needs, with four sacks already on the season.
4. Delone Carter: The Syracuse back had four touchdowns against Maine. He's built like a fire hydrant and runs with 100 percent effort.
5. Cameron Saddler: The Pitt freshman was one of the lone bright spots in the NC State loss, with 111 total yards and some nice kick returns. He's becoming a weapon in the offense at receiver.
1. Pitt's discipline: The dumb penalties and missed assignments have to get fixed in a hurry before the Panthers start Big East play.
2. Louisville's red zone production: The Cardinals have scored just seven touchdowns in 17 trips inside the 20 and have missed three field goals in the red zone. And when they did score a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 23-13 at Utah last week, Steve Kragthorpe didn't go for two to make it a one score contest. He said later he was thinking about winning the game at that point; seems like an extra point would help in that regard.
3. UConn's hands: Seven fumbles against Rhode Island is crazy. At least the Huskies recovered four of them -- and won 52-10.
4. Cincinnati's kickoff coverage: The Bearcats gave up 26 yards per return to Fresno State. Hey, we've got to find something to criticize this team for, right?
5. Saturday tailgating: This week in the Big East, anyway. There are only two games involving league teams on Saturday, and both of them will kick off by 1 p.m.
Player of the year race: Offense
1. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati: Has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,223 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. Runaway leader at this point.
2. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati: Has 32 catches for 442 yards and six touchdowns.
3. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: Has rushed 86 times for 493 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns.
4. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Has rushed 51 times for 320 yards (6.3 ypc) and five touchdowns.
5. Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse: Has 28 catches for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
Player of the year race: Defense
1. George Selvie, DE, South Florida: Leader of the league's nastiest unit.
2. Lindsey Witten, DE, UConn: Numbers down the last two games, but he's also been dealing with a stomach bug.
3. Lawrence Wilson, LB, UConn: Leads league with 42 tackles and has been strong in absence of Scott Lutrus.
4. Nate Allen, S, South Florida: Showed his potential with a great game at Florida State.
5. Aaron Webster, S, Cincinnati: Bearcats still looking good on defense, and he's their leader.
Coach of the year race:
1. Brian Kelly, Cincinnati: The way he replaced so many parts and made this team even better makes him the front-runner for a third straight trophy.
2. Jim Leavitt, South Florida: Losing Matt Grothe and still winning at Florida State says a lot.
3. Doug Marrone, Syracuse: Has the Orange at .500 for the first time since 2006.
4. Randy Edsall, Connecticut: Lost a slew of draft picks but has the Huskies at 3-1.