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Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Can't wait to see these things this fall

By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Big East
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
1. Rutgers tailback Ray Rice begins the season with the attention worthy of a Playboy All-American. Whether the spotlight remains trained on him will depend upon the ability of quarterback Mike Teel to present a dangerous alternative to defenses. Teel didn't do so consistently enough last season, and fullback Brian Leonard isn't there to occupy linebackers anymore.

Brian Brohm2. Brian Brohm stayed at Louisville for his senior season, which is more than Brohm can say for coach Bobby Petrino. His replacement, Steve Kragthorpe, knows his way around the passing game. How quickly Kragthorpe and Brohm adjust to each other will have an impact on Brohm's Heisman hopes, not to mention Louisville's hopes of a repeat conference championship and a national championship bid.

3. Quarterback Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton return to West Virginia, and in a bit of an upset, so does head coach Rich Rodriguez. Still, I wonder if the biggest loss isn't offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who left for Florida State. Trickett and Rodriguez did not part on good terms, and if the Mountaineers' blocking suffers, no one in Morgantown -- especially Rodriguez -- will take it well.
Pat White 1. Two Big East teams are again in position to challenge for a spot in the BCS championship game. Louisville, with Heisman Trophy contender Brian Brohm returning at quarterback, might be the league favorite, even after coach Bobby Petrino bolted for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. West Virginia has two Heisman Trophy candidates back, quarterback Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton. The Big East championship -- and a potential spot in the national title game -- might be decided Thursday, Nov. 8 in Morgantown.

2. Can Rutgers do it again? If the Scarlet Knights are going to keep chopping away, they have to get more production from quarterback Mike Teel. Tailback Ray Rice is yet another Heisman Trophy candidate from the Big East. But unless Teel can do what he did at the end of last season, defenses will find ways to slow Rice down. With receivers Kenny Britt, Tim Brown and Tiquan Underwood returning, there's no reason Rutgers shouldn't be able to throw the football effectively.

3. Syracuse's Greg Robinson and Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt, two former NFL coaches, need to turn their teams around quickly. Robinson is 5-18 in two seasons at Syracuse and the natives are restless. Wannstedt hasn't taken his alma mater to a bowl game yet, with an 11-12 record in two seasons. Both teams must replace their starting quarterbacks. Wannstedt has recruited exceptionally well at Pittsburgh, but it's time for that talent to translate into victories.