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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Big East internal affairs


Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

West Virginia: The Mountaineers' offensive problems could be about Schmitt. Head coach Bill Stewart has promised some changes after West Virginia lost 24-3 at East Carolina, including getting back to more intense practices. Stewart also wants to return to the zone-read option that made West Virginia's running game so devastating. In that regard, the team really misses graduated fullback Owen Schmitt, a former fixture in the backfield. The hard-nosed Schmitt made teams at least respect his inside power-running ability, and that helped spring Pat White and Noel Devine on the outside. There's not a player like that on this team right now, but Stewart may give Will Johnson more looks in that role.

South Florida: If the Bulls want to go far this year, they'll need to shore up their kicking game. Junior Delbert Alvarado has been erratic throughout his career and has made just one of his four attempts this year. One of the misses was a potential game-winner at Central Florida. He memorably missed four of five kicks at Auburn last year before tying the game with a 19-yarder. Coach Jim Leavitt will make a change if Alvarado doesn't gain more consistency.

Louisville: The Cardinals have some extra time off before playing Kansas State on Wednesday, and they need it. Four starting offensive linemen left Saturday's Tennessee Tech game with various injuries, but none are considered serious at this point. Louisville is hoping to get receiver Scott Long back soon. Long broke a bone in his foot during training camp and hasn't yet been cleared to return to practice. Fellow receiver Trent Guy, who has played in the first two games despite suffering a gunshot wound in his lower back on July 5, is getting back into shape and becoming a bigger part of the team's plans. Guy may be worked into special-teams return duties this week.

Pittsburgh: Weakside linebacker Shane Murray, who injured his knee in August and has missed the first two games, has returned to a limited practice schedule this week. If all goes well, Murray could be back in the starting lineup for next week's game versus Iowa. The Panthers have lost starting strongside LB Adam Gunn indefinitely to a broken bone in his neck. Austin Ransom and Greg Williams filled in and played well last week against Bowling Green. Williams, a promising redshirt freshman, could be the long-term solution at the weakside spot once Murray is back in full stride.

Syracuse: The Orange had to move a defensive back, Bruce Williams, to offense to shore up its depleted receiver position. Now, a former offensive player might be starting at safety. Senior Paul Chiara approached the coaching staff in the spring and asked if he could switch from running back to safety because the Orange had a lot of backfield depth. An injury to Randy McKinnon in the Akron game could thrust Chiara into a starting role at his new spot.