No clear favorite in the Big East
Notebook: Temple opens conference return with a win
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With West Virginia taking its electric offense to the Big 12, the currently in-flux Big East could be anyone’s division. Pitt disappointed early this season, South Florida and Syracuse are always up and down, and the jury is still out on Connecticut and Temple after starting the season out with throwaway games. Louisville enters the season as the conference’s lone ranked team but it has been awhile since the Cardinals were at all relevant in college football and they are not exactly on many experts’ list of hot bowl teams.
The coaches, as usual are not paying any attention to the lack of national hype.
“I think the Big East is an extremely strong conference, certainly as competitive as any conference top to bottom in the country,” says Rutgers new head coach Kyle Flood. “…the rankings and the things that are earned throughout the year are what we should be evaluated on.”
South Florida head coach Skip Holtz said it best in a teleconference when he told reporters that “anybody can beat anybody on a given week. [The Big East] may not have a dominant team but there hasn’t necessarily been a doormat either.”
The way week 1 went down, Holtz’ slightly touch-of-cliché statement rings true.
Junior quarterback Munchie Legaux takes over an offense that was the Isaiah Pead show in 2011. Legaux saw action in six contests in 2011, earning three starts after Zach Collaros was injured on Nov. 12, 2011 against West Virginia. He went 2-1 as a starter, helping UC clinch its third conference title in four years. Legaux threw for 749 yards and five touchdowns, adding 185 yards rushing and a pair of scores on the ground.
South Florida (1-0)
If the Bulls hope to make noise in the Big East they’ll need a more measured performance from quarterback B. J. Daniels than what he showed on Saturday. Three touchdowns are fine, but two turnovers against Chattanooga likely doesn't foster confidence amongst the USF fandom.
• After suffering a concussion that cut his 2011 season short, USF's Terrence Mitchell had a strong season debut for the Bulls on Saturday, finishing with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
An upset to Youngstown State was not what first-year head coach Paul Chryst envisioned for the season opener. Still, coach Paul Chryst says it's not as bad as it seems.
“I had a chance to go back and look at the film of the Youngstown game and I told the players, there are areas that obviously we need to get cleaned up, but they’re areas that are controllable, that are tangible," he said. "You can see it on film and quite honestly I like the way the guys were yesterday, looking forward to getting on the field [Monday] and practicing."
Heart-breaking loss aside, coach Doug Marrone and the Orange have to be excited about fifth-year senior Ryan Nassib’s prospects. A school record 470 passing yards is a nice consolation prize.
Nassib, named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, recorded 512 yards out of SU's 596 yards of total offense. His total yards of offense are the best by a Bowl Subdivision player in the opening week of the 2012 season.
As a team, Rutgers rushed for 151 yards in its 24-12 victory against Tulane on Saturday. Going back to last year, RU has eclipsed the century mark on the ground in four of the last five games. Since 2000, Rutgers is 42-16 in games when rushing for 150 yards or more.
When the Cardinals face Missouri State on Saturday, 20 just may be the magic number. When scoring more than 20 points in a game under the direction of Charlie Strong, the Cardinals' record is 14-4. When holding opponents to 20 or fewer points, Louisville boasts a 10-3 mark under Strong.
University of Connecticut redshirt sophomore linebacker Yawin Smallwood was named the conference defensive player of the week on Monday.
Smallwood keyed a Connecticut defense that turned in its first shutout since the 2007 season with a 37-0 win against Massachusetts. He had a team-high seven tackles to go with a sack, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup as the Huskies didn’t allow the Minutemen to cross midfield.
Senior kicker Temple senior PK/P Brandon McManus is the conference's Specialist of the Week honor, the Big East announced on Monday.
In Temple's victory against Villanova on Friday, McManus set the school career record for field goals made with 48 following two (24 yards, 31 yards.) field goals in the fourth quarter. He surpassed Bill Wright (1985-88) who had 46 career field goals.