Editor’s Note: This is part one of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. A new team will be released each weekday for the next eight days. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however my opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am.
Football; the corner stone of the NCAA, the number one money making college sport, and one very entertaining game to sit down on a Saturday and watch. With the end of the lacrosse season (I was rooting for Duke?!?), the fact the Bee is done (DING!), and the spring weather here, minds tend to wander to the next major sport on the docket, and look with new hope and anticipation at a new football squad looking to take the field in the Carrier Dome. But, you may ask, “How the hell are we gonna do in the Big East this year?” Good question. Let us wonder down the path of pontification and analysis at this year’s Big East Football Conference.
Preview - New Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly (and by new I mean was thrown into the job last season after their coach bolted for Michigan State) takes the helm for his first full season. This guy likes to throw the ball so he’s going to be looking for big things from returning QB Dustin Grutza. Having a decent year last year (137/225, 1632yds, 9 TD, 13 INT, sacked 23 times), the team had a nice win in the International Bowl over Western Michigan. Spread Offense is the system that this coach is trying to install, so a lot depends on the team adjusting to this new system. If the team grasps it quickly and competently, and they manage to open the playbook, this team could have moderate success and match their 2006 record of 8-5. However, their leading receiver, TE Brent Celek, has graduated, leaving the big mystery as to who will step up and catch the football in this new system, which will greatly increase the number of times the ball will be thrown. They have a talented receiver core, but have failed to show consistency in the last few seasons. Their defense, which was top five in total defense in the Big East last season, has a lot of players returning.
Key Returning Players - QB Dustin Grutza, RB Greg Moore, WR Dominick Goodman.
Key Losses - K Kevin Lovell, TE Brent Celek, C Jeff Reinstatler.
My Thoughts – This team is going to be middle of the pack in the Big East at best. With a fairly experienced running game that Coach Dantonio used a lot last year, this team could open the pass up nicely. Grasping the system will be the key question. If they fail to progress quickly this could be a problem. I have a feeling the defense will be winning the games for the Bearcats next season at best.
Will We Beat Them? – I think this is a very possible win for the Orange. Look for us to pass early after the snap with a three step drop on some slants, and when they least expect it… the long ball to Taj Smith. It is also the last home game of the season, so the “back against the wall” mentality to get a sixth win or save face could be a big factor for the Orange in the Dome.