NCF Nation: Jason Douglas

Big East stock report, Week 4

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
9:08
AM ET
Ring the bell. Time for the stock report to open.

Stock up

1. Ryan Nassib: It was only Maine, but still the Syracuse quarterback threw for five touchdowns in just his third college start. Nassib is completing nearly 59 percent of his passes and has eight scores. Says Doug Marrone: "I think he can be a special player."

2. Chandler Jones: Another Syracuse player makes the list. I thought this could be the year Jones turned in a breakout season, and the defensive end might be on his way after recording two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles against Maine.

3. Bruce Irvin: There was plenty of preseason hype about West Virginia's junior-college transfer, but there wasn't much production in the first two games. Then Irvin recorded three sacks against Maryland, and fans began chanting "Bruuuuuce!" He is looking pretty boss.

4. D.J. Woods: Cincinnati hasn't had a lot of bright spots in September, but Woods is one of them. The junior receiver had six catches for 146 yards and two scores in the loss at NC State.

Stock down

1. Zach Frazer: The UConn quarterback hasn't thrown an interception, but he's also completing only about half his passes. As a senior, he should be playing with more consistency, and the return of Cody Endres from suspension may put some pressure on him to get better.

2. Pitt's police blotter: Taken individually, the three arrests of Pittsburgh players since this summer don't have much in common with one another. The latest incident involved a walk-on offensive linemen fighting someone. But given the spotlight the program was already under after the earlier incidents involving Jabaal Sheard and Jason Douglas, you'd think Pitt's players would be on their best behavior.

3. Cincinnati's returns: The Bearcats rank second-to-last in the Big East in kickoff return average, with only one return over 30 yards this season, and last in punt return average. It's clear that Mardy Gilyard doesn't work here anymore.

4. West Virginia's big-play defense: The Mountaineers gave up 60- and 80-yard touchdown passes against Maryland, a week after giving up a 96-yard pass at Marshall. Think LSU might try to hit a few deep balls?

Player of the year race: Offense

1. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Has eclipsed 100 yards in all three games for the Big East's lone ranked team. But he'd better watch out for teammate ...

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith has simply been terrific since midway through the fourth quarter of the Marshall game and is the Big East's top-rated passer.

3. Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut: Leads the Big East in rushing and had a 192-yard day against Temple. But late fumble marred his performance.

4. Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt: He can make a statement on Thursday versus Miami.

5. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse: He leads the league with eight touchdown throws.

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Joe Lefeged, S, Rutgers: He was great in the first two games. Let's see what he can do against North Carolina.

2. Robert Sands, S, West Virginia: Still a force, but he's obviously dealing with some health issues.

3. JK Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati: Leads league in tackles, though his team needs to play better.

4. Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse: Second behind Schaffer in tackles and had a big game against Maine.

5. Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut: Mostly held in check against Temple, though he did have a sack.

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."
Wow, was there a party in the Pittsburgh/Morgantown area this weekend that I wasn't invited to, or what?

A double-barrel dose of bad news arrived today, as reports surfaced that Pittsburgh running back/kick returner Jason Douglas and West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan were each arrested in separate incidents and charged with DUI.

Both cases are troubling. In Douglas' instance, he is accused by police of hitting a man with his car while intoxicated and then speeding off. It sounds like he might have come close to killing someone, if reports are correct.

Meanwhile, Hogan is an NFL-caliber talent who can't seem to stay out of his own way. Just last week, I wrote a story about how he was trying to overcome some of his past problems, which included running stadium stairs most of this spring for various offenses. In April, he was charged with public urination and disorderly conduct. Head coach Bill Stewart also didn't like the way he worked in conditioning or his attendance mark in classes.

"He's hard-headed like me," Stewart said.

Hogan didn't want to talk much about the spring incidents when I asked him about it last week. He insisted that he'd grown up and gotten wiser.

"That's in the past," he said of his problems. "I'm moving on past that, and I'm more mature now."

Apparently not, if the police reports are correct. If so, Stewart will have very little choice but to suspend Hogan now, especially given his track record. And that could really hurt West Virginia, since Hogan is their best cornerback and, I think, the most talented one in the Big East. Losing him puts a big dent in the defense, which has to play Maryland and LSU in the next two weeks.

Pitt's Douglas has already been suspended indefinitely and would have a hard time working his way back if those accusations prove accurate. Douglas already played a key role in this season for the Panthers in a negative way; he fumbled away a kickoff return that led to a score by Utah in the opener, a game Pittsburgh wound up losing in overtime. He wasn't going to get much playing time at running back behind Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, but Pitt's coaches were intrigued by the 5-foot-7 redshirt freshman's quickness.

Both players might have run out of chances at their respective schools.
If Dion Lewis were to go down, Pitt could still run the ball well with Ray Graham, Chris Burns and Jason Douglas, plus battering ram fullback Henry Hynoski.

But the Panthers aren't the only team in the Big East that's prepared for injuries and other scenarios at key spots.

There are few players as dynamic as Noel Devine, but West Virginia believes it may have the next divine runner in Tavon Austin. Jock Sanders has also ably filled in at tailback for Devine over the years, and Ryan Clarke is physical, bruising ball carrier.

Cincinnati and Connecticut are blessed with rare quarterback depth. While Zach Collaros should be a star, his backup -- Chazz Anderson -- has already won important games. Same goes with UConn, which will start Zach Frazer but feels comfortable with Cody Endres leading the team. And both teams have third-stringers who can play.

The Bearcats are loaded at wide receiver with Armon Binns, D.J. Woods and Vidal Hazelton. Take one out, and it would hurt but not cripple the offense, as Marcus Barnett and two players who excelled in junior college -- Jamar Howard and Kenbrell Thompkins -- could pick up some slack.

UConn has the league's deepest cast at offensive line, which showed this spring when Adam Masters and Kevin Friend stepped in to compensate for injuries and excelled. The Huskies seem to just plug in and play on their O-line with little dropoff.

Rutgers might have its deepest defensive line ever under Greg Schiano, so deep that the Scarlet Knights didn't mind moving former top-rated recruit Antwan Lowery over to offense. South Florida lost George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul off its defensive line but could still go 8-to-10 deep there if youngsters develop as expected.

Depth isn't a word thrown around Syracuse much lately, but the Orange enter 2010 with a full stable of defensive backs, including five players who started a year ago and several others who earned valuable experience in 2009.

Overall, I'd say UConn, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are the deepest teams in the Big East. But depending on the position, some teams are better off than others.

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