NCF Nation: Greg Williams

Big East position rankings: LB

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
4:00
PM ET
We continue with our final 2011 position rankings by moving to linebacker. There were plenty of exemplary individual performances in this group, as six teams were represented on the Big East first and second teams. But this evaluation is of the unit as a whole, so I am factoring in the performance of every starter, along with depth and stats.

[+] EnlargeKhaseem Greene
Rich Kane/Icon SMIKhaseem Greene's position switch went better than anyone could have expected, as he ended up leading the conference in tackles.
1. Rutgers. Khaseem Greene's move to linebacker was the smartest position change of the year, pushing the Scarlet Knights into the top spot in this category. Greene led the league with 140 tackles en route to Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was essentially all over the field. Greene and Steve Beauharnais were the only linebacker tandem to finish in the top 10 in the Big East in tackles for loss. Add in the much-improved Jamal Merrell and it's easy to see why this group is No. 1. Preseason ranking: No. 4.

2. Cincinnati. J.K. Schaffer had yet another outstanding season for the Bearcats, racking up 100 tackles once again. But quietly, Maalik Bomar put together a nice year as well, and that helped make up for some serious question marks that surrounded this unit going into the season. True freshmen Dwight Jackson and Nick Temple made contributions, but on the whole it was the Schaffer show again and that was enough to boost this group. Preseason ranking: 8.

3. Louisville. Dexter Heyman and Preston Brown had career seasons for the Cardinals, elevating the position and helping Louisville post another outstanding season on defense. Heyman and Brown finished in the top 15 in the Big East in tackles, and Heyman ranked fourth in the league with 16 tackles for loss. His play earned him second-team honors, and he leaves a big hole to fill for 2012. Preseason ranking: 3.

4. UConn. The Huskies were one of two teams without a linebacker on the Big East first or second team. But I thought this position group was vastly underrated for most of the year. Sio Moore came up with some big plays, and Yawin Smallwood and Jory Johnson developed nicely throughout the season. To illustrate how active Moore was, he was the top linebacker in tackles for loss with 16. This unit should be even better in 2012. Preseason ranking: 2.

5. USF. The Bulls were the other team without a linebacker named to the Big East first or second team but that shouldn't diminish the season DeDe Lattimore had. He had seven sacks, 13 tackles for loss and led the team in tackles. In fact, all three linebackers led the team, in Mike Lanaris and Sam Barrington. But the group as a whole underachieved, as the Bulls struggled to get teams off the field and were often times out of position to make a play. Preseason ranking: 1.

6. West Virginia. Middle linebacker Najee Goode had a terrific season, earning first team Big East honors. But beyond him, there were few significant contributions. Injuries hurt and so did inexperience. Plus, the expected emergence of junior college transfer Josh Francis never materialized. Between Jared Barber, Jewone Snow and Doug Rigg, there was not much doing in this group. Preseason ranking: 5.

7. Pitt. The problem in evaluating Pitt is this -- Brandon Lindsey played both end and linebacker in the hybrid Panther role. Does he get evaluated with the line group or the linebacker group? He started eight games on the line, so I gave more weight to his contributions at end. However, I did take him into account for this unit, though it was not enough to life this group up much as a whole. Max Gruder was solid, but otherwise this was a lackluster bunch. Todd Thomas showed some spark but injuries slowed him down. Between Shane Gordon, Greg Williams and Tristan Roberts, there were problems all year. Preseason ranking: 6.

8. Syracuse. It was a struggle for the Orange on defense this season, and linebacker was no exception. Marquis Spruill had to make the transition to middle linebacker and struggled at times. Dyshawn Davis showed glimpses as a true freshman. Dan Vaughan actually was the leading linebacker in tackles. You generally want your linebackers to lead the team in that category, and that was not the case this season. But there is talent here. Another year of development for Spruill and Davis could yield big things in 2012. Preseason ranking: 7.

Sloppy play in the early going

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
12:46
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- It wouldn't be a Notre Dame first quarter without a Fighting Irish turnover, and Pitt made sure of that. Andrew Taglianetti drilled Tommy Rees on a third-and-12 play. Rees fumbled and Greg Williams recovered for the Panthers at the Irish 23.

Negative five yards later, Pitt took a 3-0 lead on a 45-yard field goal from Kevin Harper.

With just more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, we've seen one turnover, five combined penalties and one scoring drive that went for -5 yards. That about sums up this sloppy start for both teams.

Maybe there was something to a noon kickoff being an adjustment.
We continue our team position rankings with the linebackers. This position was one of the hardest hit in the league with the number of quality players who are gone. You could probably interchange teams 2-7 in the rankings, depending on your point of view. So who is going to step up? Let's peer into the crystal ball.

[+] EnlargeSam Barrington
Kim Klement/US PresswireSouth Florida linebacker Sam Barrington, 36, leads the Big East's best group of linebackers.
1. South Florida. Sam Barrington and DeDe Lattimore form the best linebacking duo in the league, helping put the Bulls into the top spot. By no means have they fully arrived -- plenty of room for improvement here. What also helps with the ranking is depth. Reshard Cliett had a nice spring, after coming into USF as a safety. Junior college transfer Mike Juene was in for spring and also has raised expectations. Mike Lanaris and Curtis Weatherspoon should be important contributors as well.

2. Connecticut. The strength of the team is on defense, but if there is one group on this unit that has the biggest questions it is linebacker. There is no disputing Sio Moore is one of the best in the league. But the Huskies lost four-year starters Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus. Jory Johnson, Jerome Williams, Mike Osiecki and Yawin Smallwood are all in the mix, but there is no question this group is much more inexperienced than a year ago. Still, Moore makes this a top-tier group.

3. Louisville. The Cardinals lose Brandon Heath and a few other players who brought valuable experience. But Daniel Brown and Dexter Heyman are experienced starters who will anchor this unit. The Cardinals took a hit when Brandon Golson reportedly decided to transfer, so they are going to need to work on some depth.

4. Rutgers. Some players moved around during the spring -- Manny Abreu moved from strongside linebacker to defensive end, and Khaseem Greene moved from safety to weakside linebacker. These moves should make the defense better. Steve Beauharnais switched back to the strong side from the middle, a move that should benefit him. Ka'Lial Glaud is now penciled in to start in the middle. Marvin Booker had a good spring as well. Depth is an issue and true freshman Quentin Gause and Kevin Snyder could play. But this group should be better.

5. West Virginia. Najee Goode is a proven big-time player, but there were some huge losses for this unit. Anthony Leonard, JT Thomas and Pat Lazear are all gone. Junior college transfer Josh Francis and Casey Vance are competing on the weakside and Doug Rigg, Tyler Anderson and Donovan Miles on the strong side. Francis would add athleticism to the group, but first he has to win the starting job.

6. Pittsburgh. The Panthers are transitioning to a 3-4 and experimented plenty during the spring with various combinations. They have experience, with the top seven linebackers on the team returning. Plus Brandon Lindsey is going to play more of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role. But this was one of the worst units on the team last season. Max Gruder and Greg Williams have to be better for this unit to be ranked higher.

7. Syracuse. The Orange lose not only two of their best players, but two of their biggest leaders in Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith. Smith led the team in tackles, and Hogue was right behind him, making linebacker one of the biggest question marks on this team heading into the season. Two other contributors, Malcolm Cater and Brice Hawkes, were kicked off the team. That leaves sophmore Marquis Spruill as the only player with significant playing time among the linebackers, and he moved to a new position in the middle. Early enrollee Dyshawn Davis, a receiver in high school, is penciled in to start so that should tell you where this group is headed into the fall.

8. Cincinnati. JK Schaffer is one of the best in the Big East, but depth here is a concern. Walter Stewart has moved to defensive end, leaving a hole at one of the linebacker spots. True freshmen Nick Temple and Dwight Jackson were in for spring practice are expected to compete for starting jobs. This unit was not very good last year and undersized, making it the group with the most to prove in 2011.

Previous rankings

Ejuan Price joins Pittsburgh

June, 21, 2011
6/21/11
2:12
PM ET
Former Ohio State signee Ejuan Price joined Pittsburgh on Tuesday and is eligible to play for the Panthers this fall.

The Woodland Hills (Pa.) linebacker originally signed with the Buckeyes in February but recently asked for and was granted his release from Ohio State. ESPN ranked Price the No. 12 linebacker prospect in the nation in the class of 2011.

“Ejuan Price is an outstanding addition to our freshman class,” coach Todd Graham said in a statement. “He comes from a tremendous football program in Woodland Hills. Ejuan is an explosive player who has great leadership abilities. He will fit in well with our defensive schemes and philosophies.”

The 6-foot, 235-pound Price was selected All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers and played both as a tight end and linebacker. He had a hard time deciding between Ohio State and Pittsburgh back in February. The turmoil at Ohio State was a big factor in his decision to ask for his release.

It stands to reason Price will be given every opportunity to be a contributor this season. There is uncertainty at the linebacker position headed into the fall. Pittsburgh is switching to a 3-4 and experimented with different lineups there this spring. Dan Mason is still recovering from a brutal knee injury and Todd Thomas also missed the spring with an injury. There is talent at the position with the return of Max Gruder, Greg Williams and Tristan Roberts. Adding Price into the mix is a bonus.

Hope and concern: Pittsburgh

May, 23, 2011
5/23/11
11:03
AM ET
Time to get back at it in the hope and concern series, where we look at the top reasons for optimism and pessimism for each Big East team's 2011 season. What things should new Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham be hopeful and concerned about? Let's take a look.

Biggest reason for hope: Increased scoring

Pitt wasn't exactly a plodder last year, averaging more than 26 points per game and reaching 40 points three times. Yet there was usually a feeling that the offense could have done more with weapons like Dion Lewis, Ray Graham and Jon Baldwin. One thing Todd Graham promises to do is ratchet up the pace and the points. Tulsa led the nation in total offense in 2007 and 2008 and finished fifth in 2010. It might take a couple of years for Graham to assemble the kind of players he wants to run his spread at peak efficiency, but expect the Panthers to put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses this year.

Biggest reason for concern: The back end

While the offense should produce and Graham loves the depth and talent along the defensive line, there are questions elsewhere. The linebacking corps did not play well at times this year, especially in pass coverage. Are guys like Tristan Roberts and Max Gruder quick enough? Will Greg Williams be more fundamentally sound? Or can younger players like Shane Gordon and Todd Thomas step up? At cornerback, the Panthers exited the spring with a pair of new starters in K'Waun Williams and Buddy Jackson. Williams is talented but largely unproven, while Jackson has been an enigma his entire career. Safety is in good hands at one spot with Jared Holley, but the Panthers have to replace all-league performer Dom DeCicco. Pittsburgh could be vulnerable to good passing teams.

Pitt-Syracuse kickoff notes

October, 16, 2010
10/16/10
11:39
AM ET
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh is making some lineup changes. Freshman Shane Gordon will start at linebacker over Greg Williams, while Brock DeCicco will start at tight end over Mike Cruz. Both are performance based.

Dom DeCicco will be back at safety after two games at weakside linebacker, with Tristan Roberts starting there. Andrew Taglianetti (knee) is not expected to play. Also, defensive end Brandon Lindsey is banged up and may be limited today. Expect to see true freshman Bryan Murphy to get his first playing time of the season. He had a foot injury in the preseason, but coaches raved about him before the injury.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto is in the house, so you know it's a big game.

Q&A with Pitt's Dom DeCicco

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
10:23
AM ET
Pittsburgh's Dom DeCicco was an All-Big East safety last year. Last week, he was moved down to linebacker to help out that unit and shore up the defense overall. I spoke with the Panthers senior this week as he and his teammates prepared for Notre Dame:

What has the move to linebacker been like for you so far?

Dom DeCicco: It's different to go from a position you know so well at safety to something that's kind of new to you. But I think it's a way for our team to get our best 11 guys on the field. Jason Hendricks stepped up [at safety] and lot of teams play the spread now so you need an extra DB. And me with my size, it's an obvious fit. It's been going pretty well so far.

How different is it, really, since you've been in pass coverage a lot at that linebacker spot anyway?

DD: It's just taking on more blocks from linemen. It's different from safety because at safety you see everything in front of you. At linebacker, that nickel spot, you play with your back to receivers a lot, which is different. But the more you practice it, the more it becomes natural. I've liked it so far and all the linebackers and all the coaches have been helping me out.

[+] EnlargeDom DeCicco
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicDom DeCicco has embraced his move to linebacker.
Ever play linebacker before?

DD: No, I just played corner and safety in high school. Never linebacker until now.

You're known as a good tackler. How much does that help you with the move?

DD: Starting out in college, I struggled at first a little bit in tackling. But as the years went on, that became one of the strongest parts of my game. That helps going down there because you have to do so much of it, so that helps with the transition.

There have been a lot of moves at linebacker recently, plus the injury to Dan Mason. What's the state of that unit in your mind?


DD: I definitely think it's getting better. Max [Gruder] in the middle is real smart and can make all the calls, and Greg [Williams] is getting better every game. So the linebacker corps is going to come on stronger every game. If we can get to where the secondary and the D-line is, our defense is going to be pretty good.

You're facing former Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly this week at Notre Dame. Are you seeing a lot of the same things that Cincinnati used to run now with the Irish?

DD: Yeah, definitely. You see a lot of similarities. They're pretty much the exact same as [Cincinnati] last year but with different players plugged in. They just have a lot of talent at Notre Dame at the tight end spot, wide receiver and running backs. You can play against a spread, but this is a more talented team than we've seen running the spread.

What are the challenges of trying to defend guys like Kyle Rudolph and Theo Riddick?

DD: The guy I didn't know as much about was Theo Riddick. I knew about Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph because we played against them, but Riddick adds a whole different element to their offense as a great slot receiver. And Armando Allen looks better than he ever has running the ball. So they're dangerous everywhere, and I think Riddick is really the guy you have to watch out for.

Does it help you guys that you've seen this scheme the last couple of years?

DD: I've seen it so many times playing against Cincinnati, and they do similar stuff. So the third or fourth time you're playing against it becomes, not second nature, but it's familiar to me and the guys. So I think that helps a bit.

Do you see this as a revenge game against Kelly at all for the losses to Cincinnati the last couple of years?

DD: Yeah, you know he's really had our number since I've been here. He's beaten us two times and we've really struggled playing against him and he ended our BCS hopes the last two years. That's not easy to forget and it's always in the back of your mind when you see him across the sideline. But we just have to go out and worry about playing against Notre Dame and getting a win against them.

Most of you guys have played in Notre Dame Stadium before, so does that help with not being intimidated by the atmosphere?

DD: We've played there before, but to be honest I don't think any place for us is going to be worse than playing at West Virginia. But Notre Dame, with all the prestige, the Touchdown Jesus, Rudy and all that, it is pretty neat and you could get caught up in it. But coach gets us focused and makes sure we have our eyes on what we need to do on Saturday.

Pitt's Dan Mason demoted

September, 16, 2010
9/16/10
9:43
AM ET
There's more fallout from the Jason Douglas, hit-and-run DUI charge at Pittsburgh.

Starting middle linebacker Dan Mason was a passenger in the car with Douglas when his teammate allegedly struck a pedestrian and drove off while intoxicated over the weekend. Mason wasn't charged in the incident.

But head coach Dave Wannstedt said Mason needs to learn to make better decisions, and he has stripped the sophomore of his starting spot before the Miami game.

"This is for his good," Wannstedt told reporters. "He needs to prove to me that he can do the right things and be accountable off the field, in the classroom and on the football field. When he does that, he will get his job back."

Max Gruder, the starter at strongside linebacker, will now move to the middle, while Greg Williams will flip from the weak side to Gruder's old spot. Tristan Roberts will start at weakside linebacker.

I picked Mason as one of my breakout candidates this season, and he's got a lot of talent. But clearly he still needs to figure some things out.

As for Douglas, who has been indefinitely suspended, don't look for him to return to the program. Wannstedt said that possibility was "in serious jeopardy."

Big East lunchtime links

March, 27, 2009
3/27/09
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

• Rutgers running back Joe Martinek is ready for a bigger load in 2009, Keith Sargeant says in the Home News Tribune.

• Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is taking a look at four quarterbacks this spring, Donnie Webb writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

• Greg Williams' shift from running back to linebacker has paid off for him and for Pitt, Colin Dunlap writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

• Redshirt freshman Jon Lejiste has moved his way up to the starting nickelback at South Florida, Greg Auman notes in the St. Petersburg Times.

• Eric Wood was among the Louisville players who worked out for scouts on the Cardinals' pro day, Michael Grant writes in The Courier-Journal

• Cincinnati's defense is preparing for a near-total reboot, Bill Koch reports in the Cincinnati Enquirer. 


Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers: The senior went out in style by going 21 of 26 for 447 yards and seven touchdowns in the Scarlet Knights' 63-14 blowout win over Louisville on Thursday.

Greg Williams, LB, Pittsburgh:
Williams had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown in the Panthers' 34-10 win at Connecticut.

Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut:
Brown finished the season as the nation's leading rusher by going for 189 yards on 34 carries, including a 57-yard touchdown, in his team's loss. He needs 178 yards in his bowl game to reach 2,000 for the year.

Sidney Glover, S, West Virginia: Glover forced a fumble and had an interception as West Virginia held off South Florida 13-7.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

1. Pat White vs. the Pittsburgh defense: West Virginia didn't go to the BCS title game last year because White had only 41 yards rushing and the offense managed only 183 total yards in the 13-9 loss to Pitt. White has been turning it on lately, running for 200 yards against Louisville last week. Pittsburgh has a different defensive coordinator this season but has speed on the edge with ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard and linebackers Greg Williams and Austin Ransom. And Scott McKillop is a tackling machine in the middle. It should be a fascinating matchup and the ultimate key to the Backyard Brawl.

2. LeSean McCoy: The super sophomore has been held below his standards the past two games. McCoy had only 39 yards versus Louisville and 82 at Cincinnati last week (though he did score two touchdowns vs. the Bearcats). West Virginia's defense doesn't yield much and held the Big East's top rusher, Donald Brown, to 82 yards. Now that McCoy has said he's coming back for his junior season, maybe he can relax and have a breakout game. Pitt will need it in order to win.

3. "Backyard Brawl" booters: If the game comes down to field goals, there could be an interesting story line. West Virginia's Pat McAfee missed a pair of field goals in last year's 13-9 loss to Pitt and received death threats from his own fans. Wouldn't it be something if he were the hero this time? The Panthers have one of the most accurate kickers in the country in Conor Lee, so they'd feel comfortable going toe-to-toe, so to speak.

4. Eyes on the prize: The Big East trophy will be in attendance at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. Can Cincinnati maintain its focus on the Syracuse Orange and not start dreaming of the Orange Bowl. If West Virginia loses on Friday, it won't matter what the Bearcats do in their game. But they don't want to win the league like that, and it would be embarrassing for the Big East if its champion got upset at home in its final conference game.

5. Tony Pike: The Cincinnati quarterback put on a dazzling performance against Pittsburgh, going 26-for-32 for 309 yards and three touchdowns. The junior and first-year starter seems to be getting better with every game. What can he do for an encore?

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

West Virginia quarterback Pat White will get to play a team from his home state for the first time when Auburn visits Morgantown on Thursday, Chuck Finder writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This game was originally scheduled for The Plains so that White, who's from Daphne, Ala., could play near home his senior season. But Auburn asked to switch dates, and West Virginia will go there next year instead.

"Did it bum me out? It did," White said. But, I mean, I got a lot of family coming to this game, too. They'll get to see it."

White, who missed the Syracuse game, has returned to practice and says he'll be good to go Thursday. 

* The conference call between UConn coach Randy Edsall and reporters on Sunday got a little touchy at times as Edsall was asked about the play calling in Saturday's 12-10 loss at Rutgers, Desmond Connor notes in the Hartford Courant. Someone asked the coach about the "conservative" approach.

"You're calling it conservative," Edsall said. "I don't call it conservative. I call it trying to win games."

* All the progress that Syracuse showed while battling Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the wire vanished in the second half at South Florida, Dave Rahme writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard. The second-half offensive numbers were astonishingly bad: no first downs, nine total yards, 18 snaps, 1-for-10 passing, 6:40 time of possession.

* Pittsburgh outside linebacker Greg Williams, who was thrust into a starting role when Adam Gunn suffered a neck injury this season, is learning fast on the job, Paul Zeise writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and his staff spent two weeks researching and studying Navy's triple-option attack, trying to figure out the best way to slow it down.

In the end, they decided that the answer was right under their noses. Instead of trying to change schemes and formations, the Panthers went with their normal 4-3 defense.

Call it a Navy base.

And call it devastating.

"Last year (against Navy) we had a single high safety, and this year we went with double high safeties," linebacker Scott McKillop said. "We had three or four line stunts. but other than that it was just reading and reacting."

Read and react to this: Pitt's defense sank the Midshipmen in the 42-21 win, holding them to their lowest point total since a 38-14 loss at Notre Dame on Oct. 28, 2006. Navy had 194 yards rushing, more than 110 below its season average, and its lowest total in two years as well.

The 21 points, in fact, are misleading. Navy scored on its opening possession, but its only other touchdowns came after a 91-yard interception return and in the final 30 seconds against Pitt's second stringers.

"They really put one on us tonight," Navy quarterback Jarod Bryant said.

The Midshipmen offense certainly suffered from not having regular starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who sat out with a hamstring injury. But the Panthers also took away their other options, especially the fullback dive that usually sets up the perimeter option so well.

Fullback Eric Kettani had only 13 yards on eight carries and not a single rush longer than five yards. He'd been averaging 85 yards per game and bruised Pitt last year in a 48-45 Navy win at Heinz Field.

This game started like a repeat of 2007, as Navy drove for a touchdown in just six plays on its opening drive. Shun White took a pitch 40 yards for the score.

"That was a play that we worked on for two weeks," McKillop said. "One or two guys were just out of whack. But we got it fixed."

That long touchdown run went to outside linebacker Greg Williams' side. Navy thought it could exploit Williams, a redshirt freshman, and Austin Ransom, the other outside linebacker who played receiver until this year. But both were stout, and after the shaky start, Williams started making plays all over the field.

"He and Austin are going to have sore knees tomorrow because they got chopped a lot," head coach Dave Wannstedt said. "They got after it pretty good, though."

Unlike most of his teammates, Williams had never seen a team like Navy or experienced that many chop blocks.

"It took me a while to get used to it," he said. "You just have to play fast and know that you might get cut. Keeping your eyes on the wing guy is a big part of it. If you take your eyes off him, you're going to get cut."

Williams typifies the defensive player Wannstedt has sought after on the recruiting trail. He's only 225 pounds but can fly, one of many undersized but speedy players Wannstedt has collected.

Defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus, both under 265 pounds, kept Navy from outrunning them on the edge. That athletic ability also caused all kinds of trouble for South Florida in Pitt's last game, a 26-21 win in Tampa on Oct. 2. The Panthers have now shut down a spread team in the Bulls and a triple-option one in Navy. All without changing their look.

"One of the things Coach Bennett stresses is that in order to be a great defense, you've got to be flexible," McKillop said. "You see so many styles. Being able to play against all these types of schematics like that shows you that you're a good defense."

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

West Virginia ran for more than 300 yards and its defense allowed no points in regulation after the first five minutes. And the Mountaineers still lost 17-14 in overtime to Colorado because they hurt themselves continually with penalties and mistakes, Dave Hickman writes in the Charleston Gazette.

The lack of a true power running threat is killing West Virginia, which was just 3 for 13 on third downs last night and is 12 for 34 on the season. What Bill Stewart wanted to avoid has happened: The Mountaineer offense has become too predictable. They have scored just two touchdowns in two games and are 0-2 against major-college competition. It's going to be another long week for Stewart and his guys.

"The Huskies have used wide receiver Isis Moore and defensive back Josh Massey -- a former sprinter at Notre Dame-West Haven -- to try and simulate Griffin's speed in practice this week. Edsall admits it's not a true representation.
"We're not going to be able to adjust to the speed until we see it Friday night," Edsall said. "With a guy like this, there will be some missed tackles. It happens in every game when you get those really good athletes."
  • The Cincinnati-Miami of Ohio series ain't what it used to be, Bill Koch writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
  • Louisville is looking to build off Wednesday's win over Kansas State, C.L. Brown says in The Courier-Journal. And after seeing West Virginia struggle again, the Cardinals and others have to be thinking this league race is wide open.
  • Credit Syracuse for not scheduling softly. Tomorrow's game against Northeastern is the Orange's first against an FCS/I-AA team in six years, Dave Rahme writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard. Couldn't come at a better time, either.
  • The pressure is on for Pittsburgh redshirt freshman outside linebacker Greg Williams, who was exploited by Buffalo and now must play well against Iowa. Paul Zeise has the story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • South Florida nose tackle Sampson Genus will not play tomorrow at Florida International because of an ankle injury, the Tampa Tribune reports.
  • Rutgers' defense hasn't forced a turnover in two games and the Scarlet Knights have the second-lowest turnover margin in the FBS, Tom Luicci writes in The Star-Ledger. They'll look to change that against Navy and its triple-option tomorrow.

Big East internal affairs

September, 10, 2008
9/10/08
11:07
AM ET
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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES