Rough Week Two For Big East

The Big East got off to an 8-0 start during week one but things went south quickly for the league in week two.   Conference teams went 0-3 against opponents from BCS leagues.   A hand full of other teams struggled against FCS competition. 

There are five more big non-league match ups this week as WVU visits Maryland, Syracuse plays at USC, Pitt visits Iowa,  UConn hosts Iowa State and Louisville plays at Kentucky. 


Mixed Bag for Pitt on Offense

The Panthers have the nation’s leading rusher in Ray Graham through two games.  Graham has averaged 161 yards per contest so far.   But the Pitt offensive line allowed seven sacks to Maine last week.   Quarterback Tino Sunseri also threw a pair of interceptions including one in the end zone. 

"To be quiet honest we haven’t played very well at quarterback," admitted Pitt coach Todd Graham.   "We have great potential and I have great belief in Tino, but there is a lot of pressure on that position and we have to be more disciplined and continue to learn there."  

"We’ve got the makings of a really good football team," Todd Graham said.  "We just have to improve and we have to do it in a hurry this week.   We’ll find out were we stand this week."

Pitt will be heading to Iowa City for the first time in 60 years.  The last trip there was a 34-17 loss in 1951.     Iowa is 1-1 on the year and this may be an advantageous match up for the Panthers because the Hawkeyes  allowed 194 yards rushing in a triple overtime loss to Iowa State last week. 


UConn Also Plagued by QB Issues.

The Huskies were held to just 193 yards of total offense during a 24-21 loss at Vanderbilt.   

"We were not consistent and productive enough," Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni said.  

The issue is at quarterback as UConn coach  Pasqualoni says he is preparing three qb’s–Johhny McEntee, Michael Nebrich and Scott McCummings–to take snaps Friday night against a 2-0 Iowa State team. 

The quarterback that played the most last week 24-21 loss at Vanderbilt was Johnny McEntee who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. 

"We just have to finish plays and finish blocks," Pasqualoni said.  "We are very close on a number of things.

"We started to run the ball well against Vanderbilt.   We just can’t turn the ball over.  We can’t miss a protection and we have to avoid the minus yardage play.

"Those minus yardage plays down by the goal line has really hurt us two weeks in a row," Pasqualoni said. 

UConn does have the league’s top breakout performer in freshman running back Lyle McCombs who has averaged 130 yards per game rushing through the first two weeks.  That total is second in the conference and 12th in the nation currently. 

UConn will host an Iowa State team that beat rival Iowa 44-41 in triple overtime last week. 


 Louisville Sent Reeling by Hilton

Cardinals coach Charlie Strong knew his team had to find a way to stop all-purpose star T. Y Hilton when Florida International came to town.   Louisville didn’t have the answer as Hilton rolled up 268 yards and two touchdowns. 

The thing about it is we are just not a very good football team," lamented Louisville coach Charlie Strong.  "Our players have to compete and they have to stay focused and locked in for a 60 minute game. 

"We get into these games and for a half we play well and then we don’t play well for the second half. 

"We have to be able to score when we get into the red zone," Strong said.  "And then there is the total awareness on defense.  (Florida International) had three big plays in the game that beat us and two of them were made by a very talented young man."

A bright spot was quarterback Will Stein.   Despite some breakdowns along the offensive line, Stein threw for a career high 249 yards and two touchdowns.  

But Strong is concerned about falling under .500 for the season as his team will make a trip to play rival Kentucky Saturday night.

"They return ten starters on defense and they have an offensive line were they return all of their starters," Strong said.  "They’ve come from behind in two of their wins  and they are playing with a lot of confidence which our guys are not right now."


Syracuse with Significant Injuries on Defense

 The Orange will be without standout defensive lineman Chandler Jones and senior safety Orlando Fisher for the trip to USC coming up Saturday night.  

Jones will miss his second consecutive game due to an undisclosed lower body injury. 

USC is 2-0 after spoiling Utah’s Pac-12 debut last weekend.  The final score of that game was in question for several hours. 

USC’s Matt Kalil blocked a field-goal try on the final play of the game.  USC cornerback Torin Harris scooped up the ball and raced 68 yards into the end zone.   Harris was mobbed in the end zone by his teammates including several who came off the bench.   The play was flagged for excessive celebration and none of the officials ever signaled touchdown.   As the fans left the stadium, it was believed the final score was 17-14, but the Pac-12 office issued a statement Sunday saying the final touchdown did count and the final score was officially 23-14. 

The USC offense was led last week by senior running back Marc Tyler.  Tyler, the Trojans leading rusher last year, had been suspended for the opener last week.   He returned with a 113 yard performance.   

USC remains on probation and is not elidible for a bowl game.   The Trojans received votes in the Associated Press poll this week and are ranked 27th. 

The last time a current Big East team won at USC was Pitt in 1957. 


Cincinnati Burned in Pass Game

Cincinnati was hoping for big improvements on defense this year particularly in the passing game.   But Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray had his way in the first half Saturday as he completed 21-27 attempts for 281 yards and three touchdowns.   Bray finished with 405 passing with just six incompletions.   He threw four touchdowns and had no interceptions.   

"We didn’t play very well Saturday," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said.   "It’s a number of things.  They threw the ball 40 times and we hit the quarterback a total of three times.   It’s a combination of a lot of things including being able to apply pressure to the quarterback.  

"It’s all about us and working on the fundamentals and the small details not just this week and every week,"  Jones said.   


No Letdown for South Florida

South Florida’s coaches and players came down quickly from the high of beating Notre Dame in the opener as they returned to Tampa to learn of the death of program founder Lee Roy Selmon.  After attending the funeral on Friday, the players went out Saturday and rolled 37-7 over Ball State. 

Bulls quarterback B. J. Daniels was named Big East Conference offensive player of the week as he threw for 359 yards.  Daniels, statistically, had the best day of his career as he was 28-39 passing.   

"This is the first time he’s been in the same offense two years in a row," South Florida coach Skip Holtz said.    "His first three years in college he had three different offenses to learn.  

"I am really proud of the way he has grabbed hold of this," Holtz said.   "He is playing with confidence and with poise.  We all know he is a great athlete and can throw the ball.  But what he is doing right now is  he is playing quarterback with his reads and his accuracy.    He is progressing along very nicely."   

The Bulls play at home again Saturday night against Florida A&M. 


Rutgers Misses an Opportunity at UNC

Rutgers was held to one yard rushing as they lost 24-22 to North Carolina on the road.   The Scarlet Knights forced five turnovers and got a 243 yard passing performance from Chas Dodd in the loss.   Mohamed Sanu had career highs with 13 catches and 119 yards.    But the focus after the game was on an offensive line that starts three converted defensive linemen.  

l"We didn’t get into this position overnight," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.  In 2006 and 2007 we had Ray Rice but we were also good at protecting the passer.    We had some very good offensive linemen. 

"It gradually declined and bottomed out last year.   We are going to have to work our way through this.

"Some of it is young players developing," Schiano said.   "The other part of it is our more experienced guys getting better."

 Rutgers if off this week prior to a home game vs. Ohio University on Sept. 24.

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