NCF Nation: Martin Bedard

Big East internal affairs

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
11:44
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Rutgers: Looking to spark his slumping offense, coach Greg Schiano made several changes to his offensive line last week at West Virginia. Only two starters, left tackleAnthony Davis and center Ryan Blaszczyk, remained at their original positions. Kevin Haslam moved from left guard to right tackle, Mike Gilmartin switched from right tackle to right guard and split snaps with true freshman Art Forst, and Kevin Haslam went from right tackle to left guard. Schiano was non-committal this week when asked if we would use that alignment again after the Scarlet Knights mustered only 72 yards rushing in Morgantown.

West Virginia: With senior Reed Williams shutting it down and planning for a medical redshirt, the Mountaineers have turned to sophomore Anthony Leonard at middle linebacker. Leonard made his first career start last week versus Rutgers and recorded a team-high nine tackles. He is the fourth different player to start at that position in five games for West Virginia. Meanwhile, a handful of Mountaineers are dealing with head injuries, including quarterback Pat White, center Mike Dent and defensive lineman Pat Liebig.

Louisville: The competition is on again for the Cardinals' backup quarterback spot. Matt Simms, son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, has returned from his four-game suspension and split reps this past week with Tyler Wolfe. Head coach Steve Kragthorpe said he would decide on a No. 2 signal-caller the day before Friday's game at Memphis. Although starter Hunter Cantwell has recovered well from his ankle injury against Connecticut, Louisville would like the peace of mind of having a reliable backup.

Connecticut: After Bruce Carter blocked three straight punts against UConn on Saturday, North Carolina coach Butch Davis said his team exploited the Huskies' new personal protector. That would be linebacker C.J. Marck, who filled in for injured tight end Steve Brouse. But Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said after watching the film that Marck wasn't to blame, and that it was another player who failed to execute his technique. He declined to identify which player was at fault. With Brouse out several weeks, Martin Bedard has moved into a starting role, and backup offensive lineman Dan Ryan has switched to No. 88 to play tight end in some packages.

Pittsburgh: One reason for the Panthers' resurgence this season is that they have avoided a rash of injuries that's plagued the program in recent years. Linebacker Adam Gunn (neck) is the only serious, season-ending injury that has struck the team through five games. Linebacker Shane Murray, who hurt his knee in preseason, hasn't played a lot of snaps this season but is nearing full strength. With a bye this week, Pitt should be close to full health as it heads into the final seven games.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- I don't know if I expressed exactly how big of a deal this game is to both Navy and Air Force. It's a pretty big deal.

The two battle -- along with fellow military academy Army -- for the Commander In Chief trophy, a piece of hardware that is given to the military academy that has dominated the other two in a round-robin affair.

For five years, Navy has horded the trophy, but for the first time in that span, Air Force got an extra week to prepare for the Midshipmen's run-heavy offense.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Greetings from Kenan Memorial Stadium, one of the prettiest settings for college football anywhere (though not always home to the prettiest football over the years).

Two schools that could potentially make the Final Four in basketball this season are trying to reach new heights in football. Connecticut is ranked 24th and is hoping to improve to 6-0 for the first time since it moved up to FBS in 2002. North Carolina is hovering on the edge of the polls and would have a good shot at cracking the Top 25 if it can take down its second Big East team of the season.

The Tar Heels have a more explosive offense with Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks, the top two receivers in the ACC. They're averaging 31 points a game, which is second in the conference.

Connecticut is a more deliberate team that likes to pound it on the ground with the nation's leading rusher, Donald Brown. UNC is giving up about 140 rushing yards per game but the Tar Heels have a big defensive line, anchored by 330-pound Cam Thomas. They'll need to stuff Brown near the line of scrimmage, because once he's able to get into the secondary and make his cuts, he's very hard to bring down.

The wild cards here are at quarterback, with Cameron Sexton and Zach Frazer making their first starts of the season. For Frazer, it's his first start ever after he came in to lead UConn to victory at Louisville last week following Tyler Lorenzen's foot injury. It will be really interesting to see how Randy Edsall decides to attack with Frazer, whether he keeps it simple or tries to get aggressive to utilize Frazer's strong arm.

Lost in the news of Lorenzen's injury last week was tight end Steve Brouse's broken leg. The Huskies will go with senior Martin Bedard at the position and bring backup left tackle Dan Ryan in as an extra tight end in short-yardage situations.

Weather: Low 70s and blue skies, with the temperature expected to drop into the low 60s during the game. I'm not sure what it is, but every game I've been to so far this year has had incredible weather.

Officials: We have a Big East crew, led by referee Jeff Maconaghy.

It should be an interesting game. Much more to come throughout the evening ...

SPONSORED HEADLINES