Spring Primer: Big East, Pt 2
Can the Orange build on what turned out to be a great 2010?
By: Braden Gall | 3/20/11, 5:01 PM EDT
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Spring Primers: ACC Coastal | ACC Atlantic | Big 12, Part 1 | Big 12, Pt 2 | Notre Dame | Big East, Part 1 | Big East, Pt 2 | SEC West | SEC East | Big Ten Leaders | Big Ten Legends | Pac-12 North | Pac-12 South
2010 Record: 4-8, 2-5
Spring Practice: March 29 – April 16
Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 11
Spring Storylines facing the Bearcats:
1. The biggest issue on the offense will be finding replacements for All-Big East center Jason Kelce and fellow blockers Samuel Griffin and C.J. Cobb. The trio combined for 36 starts a year ago, throw in the loss of all-league tight end Ben Guidugli, and the Bearcats have some serious holes up front. It won’t matter how athletic Zach Collaros if he has no time to throw. Finding the right combination on the O-line has to be priority No. 1 for Butch Jones.
2. With the loss of Guidugli and all-everything receiver Armon Binns – and his 1,101 yards of production – Cincy will need some pass catchers to step up. D.J. Woods will be counted on the most with Anthony McClung manning the other side, but new faces Dyjuan Lewis, Kenbrell Thompkins and others will have plenty of opportunities to make plays.
3. Can this be the best defense for the Bearcats since moving to the Big East? Cincinnati was a respectable 39th in the nation against the run but 88th against the pass and nearly dead last in turnover margin (119th). There are a lot of veteran, experienced faces in the secondary. Stopping the pass must be a focus for a group that returns all 11 starters.
Redshirts to Watch: WR Dyjuan Lewis, DL Camaron Beard, LB Solomon Tentman
Fantasy Tip: Woods appears to be poised to the next big-time fantasy receiver from Cincinnati. But keep an eye on redshirt freshman Dyjuan Lewis, he was a highly touted prospect who could bring big play ability to the passing game.
Early Enrollees: DB Malcolm Murray (JC), WR Shaquille Washington
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
2010 Record: 4-8, 1-6
Spring Practice: March 29 – April 30
Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 5
Spring Storylines facing the Knights:
1. Rebuilding the defensive line will most definitely be an issue for Greg Schiano. The loss of end Alex Silvestro and Jonathan Freeny, as well as tackler Charlie Noonan, will be a big blow to a unit that was 65th nationally against the run a year ago. Some new faces will have to step up around a small group of returning players with experience: Scott Vallone, Justin Francis and Michael Larrow.
2. The secondary also losses two experienced players in all-conference safety Joe Lefeged and coverman Brandon Bing. In an effort to replinsh this area of the defense, Schiano has already started moving players around. Running back Jordan Thomas is moving to corner, Khaseem Greene is sliding down to linebacker and corner David Rowe is moving to safety. Despite the loss of Lefeged, there will be a lot of options in the back end for the Knights to work with.
3. Schiano has already come out and themed this spring with change. Be it offensive players getting moved to the secondary or Jeremy Deering being moved to running back. Settling the depth chart seems to be a tall order for the Knights. The good news? The offensive skill spots are so deep and talented that they can loan some players to the defense and running game. Adjusting to all the new players in the new places is exactly what spring practice is for.
4. While Scarlet Knight fans eagerly await the arrival of the affable star recruit, running back Savon Huggins, the rest of this offense has few holes to fill. Replacing center Howard Barbieri is the only issue for a unit that may finally have found a quarterback in Chas Dodd. Otherwise, this is a talented and experienced offensive corps returning that should need only fine-tuning in the spring.
Redshirts to Watch: DB Lorenzo Waters, WR Brandon Coleman, DB Rashad Knight, OL Betim Bujari, OL Chris Fonti
Fantasy Tip: Do not be afraid to snag elite running back recruit Savon Huggins, or the explosive Deering for that matter, late in drafts. The pieces are in place for this offense to excel in 2011 and Huggins could step in a make an immediate impact.
Early Enrollees: P Anthony DiPaula, C Dallas Hendrikson (JC), DL Kenneth Kirksey, DE Djwany Mera, DB Johnathan Aiken
South Florida Bulls
2010 Record: 8-5, 3-4
Spring Practice: March 3 – April 2
Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 6
Spring Storylines facing the Bulls:
1. Pick a quarterback. B.J. Daniels is dripping with raw athletic ability but has been inconsistent and has dealt with injuries. Walk-on Bobby Eveld earned himself a scholarship with his play in Daniels absence. There is no reason for Daniels not to step-up and take this job.
2. Something that does not help a team’s quarterback situation are holes along the offensive line. Replacing three starters up front will be a major issue this spring. With loads of talent in the form of returning starters (Demetris Murray, Lindsey Lamar), those returning from injury (A.J. Love), transfers (Darrell Scott, Dontae Aycock) and incoming freshman ready to produce, settling the O-line quickly is of the utmost importance.
3. On defense, it will be tough to replace three All-Big East performers from each level of the defense. There is a lot of speed and talent sitting on the defensive side of the depth chart, so it is time for the highly touted guys like Ryne Giddins to take over leadership roles and become the stars they looked like as recruits.
Redshirts to Watch: DT Todd Chandler, DE Brandon Wilkinson, WR T.J. Knowles, QB Jamius Gunsby, WR Deonte Welch
Fantasy Tip: Daniels has the ability to be a special player. His ability to make things happen with Michael Vick-type speed and explosiveness is a raw commodity. It would be great to see him develop as a passer and owners could find themselves a steal in the mid-to-late rounds.
Early Enrollees: QB Matt Floyd, LB Mike Jeune, LB Antoine Pozniak
2010 Record: 8-5, 4-3
Spring Practice: March 8 – April 16
Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 5
Spring Storylines facing the Orange:
1. Finding a replacement for talented Delone Carter and his 2,254 yards over the last two seasons will be key. Antwon Bailey has the look and the ability to step in and be very productive. He needs to prove it. Replacing starting stalwart at center in Ryan Bartholomew will go a long way in helping Bailey excel. A name Orange fans are very familiar with should have a chance to win the job, Macky MacPherson – the grandson of famed Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson. Finding a tight end to fill in for Jose Cruz will also be key in he running game.
2. Cuse loses a dynamic duo at linebacker in all-league performers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue. Strongside tackler Marquis Spruill will slide inside, so Doug Marrone needs to fill some holes with guys like Dan Vaughn, Brice Hawkes and Mario Tull.
3. The middle of the defense isn’t the only issue. The back-end needs to be addressed as Mike Holmes, Max Suter and Da’Mon Merkerson have all moved on. Safety should be fine with Phillip and Shamarko Thomas return with a combined 159 tackles from a year ago. Finding suitable covermen will be key this spring. Jeremi Wilkes, Kevyn Scott, Jay Bromley and Ri’Shard Anderson will battle it out.
4. It looks like Ryan Nassib has what it takes to be a winning quarterback. But the Orange hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons since the late 90’s. There will be a lot of pressure on Nassib to improve on an already very respectable 19-TD, 8-INT stat line.
Redshirts to Watch: WR Jarrod West, DT Max Beaulieu
Fantasy Tip: From what Bailey showed last season when filling in for Carter, he has a chance to be a great bet for 1,000 yards and 7-10 TDs. With this offensive line, expect another solid fantasy back from the Orange.
Early Enrollees: TE Louis Addazio, OL Lou Alexander (JC), DB Dyshawn Davis, LB Siriki Diabate (JC), DB Jaston George, WR Jeremiah Kobena
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