Note: If you buy the new Card Chronicle parental editor then the word "hate" in the headline will be replaced with the words "strongly dislike." Also, the word "their" will be replaced with the word "fuck."
The majority of Big East teams held their final scrimmage before the regular season over the weekend, and the prevailing theme coming out of just about all of them seemed to be, "thank God this wasn't week one." Keeping that in mind, your trip around the conference begins noowwww (cheesy 80's spinning fadeout graphic...I'm thinking early Reading Rainbow years).
Rich Rodriguez was one of the more moderately displeased head coaches over the weekend, referring to West Virginia's Saturday afternoon scrimmage as "OK."
It shouldn't come as much surprise that the high-powered Mountaineer offense produced five touchdowns and a pair of field goals during the one-hour, 45 minute practice game, but what should come as a surprise is that the usually sure handed O surrendered four interceptions, a safety, a handful of sacks, and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown (flashback).
"The most disappointing part was what I call the unforced errors and unforced turnovers on offense," Rodriguez said. "There probably was a little better execution defensively than offensively. We had some guys make some plays."
Freshman Noel Devine led WVU in rushing, scampering for 83 yards on just eight carries, but it was his fumble that was returned for a touchdown by safety Quinton Andrews. Heisman hopeful Steve Slaton managed to gain just 26 yards on nine carries.
Pat White completed 10 of 17 passes for 79 yards, and did not throw any of the four interceptions, while backup QB and Louisville savior Jarrett Brown hit just 5 of 11 passes for 30 yards, and was picked off twice.
The bad news was two-fold in Piscataway on Saturday where the Scarlet Knights performed poorly during a two-hour and 20 minute scrimmage, and lost wide receiver Tim Brown for four to six weeks with a broken hand.
"We were sloppy," Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said of his 16th ranked squad. "We need to get our act straightened out or we're going to be disappointed."
There were very few offensive highlights, the special teams were shaky, and Schiano said the defense hasn't been playing with the same swagger it had last season.
"We're off schedule right now," said Schiano, who doubles as the defensive coordinator. "I look back at my notes (through the years) trying to see. Sometimes when you're in it you think it's worse than it is. This time, I don't think (that's the case). We're not where we need to be as a program."
"This is the furthest we've been behind at this point since I've been here," safety Courtney Greene added. "I don't know what the reason is."
Quarterback Mike Teel failed to move the ball consistently, and said after the scrimmage that the offense's struggles are more mental than physical.
"We're really far away (from being ready for the season)," he said. "A lot further away than I thought we were. It's everything (on offense) -- the whole operation, from me to the offensive line to the receivers. We've just got to put it together, and we need to do it now. We can't wait on it."
The loss of Brown, a sophomore, certainly isn't going to help that. In limited action as a freshman he caught three touchdown passes and was widely considered to be the Scarlet Knights' best deep threat heading into the season.
At first glance it seemed as if Dustin Grutza had come up with an impressive response to Ben Mauk's solid play last weekend, as he tossed touchdown passes of 38 and 66 yards during Cincinnati's intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. But the junior from Maysville still didn't show new head coach Brian Kelly what he was looking for.
"They weren't within the realm of the offense," Kelly said of Grutza's TD passes. "He's a great kid out of the pocket, and he can throw the football down the field. I don't like running my offense on having to count on somebody running out of the pocket and finding a receiver down the field. I like that as an addition to your offense. If that's the best you can do offensively, that scares me."
We're far beyond it being official that Kelly wans Mauk to be the starting quarterback on his team, but it's getting to the point now where I think he'd rather have Kenny Satterfield taking snaps that Grutza.
As most would predict, the defense dominated the offense for most of the time the first-teamers were on the field. UC quarterbacks were sacked nearly ten times, five of which were recorded by All-Conference tackle Terrill Byrd.
"You can resign yourself to the fact that: 'We're not going to block anybody. Play Grutza,'" Kelly said of the QB situation. "That's not the way I want to go. I want to be able to make a decision based upon how we're operating our offense right. We struggled operating it right."
It was also a struggle in Tampa Saturday afternoon as Jim Leavitt watched his Bulls put on a scrimmage chock-full of turnovers and bad penalties.
"I would say both groups got a lot of work to do," Leavitt said. "We're not ready today, no. The guys came out and played hard and did a few things here and there, but we're not where we need to be. But then again, we do have some time."
Leavitt was pleased with the play of sophomore quarterback Matt Grothe, who he said "handled the offense well and made good decisions," despite a fumbled exchange with running back Moise Plancher. Freshman running back Mike Ford was one of four Bulls to find the endzone, though offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said no one stood out on the offense.
Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham was less critical of his unit, saying the D could be a little bit further ahead, but that it was hard to gage since the team had only scrimmaged once. Burnham also said that Tyrone McKenzie, who started at the Sam linebacker positon in place of injured sophomore Chris Robinson, would start USF's opener against Elon.
More bad news for the Bulls came off the field where defensive end Woody George may be forced to miss time after being arrested and charged with a felony count of grand theft earlier this week after he removed a parking boot from his car and kept it.
And that, my friends, is the story of how Woody George became my favorite South Florida Bull ever.
True freshman LaSean McCoy continued his push to unseat LaRod Stephens-Howling as Pitt's #1 running back by rushing for a dazzling 78 yards on ten carries in the Panthers' second scrimmage of the summer.
Stephens-Howling, on the other hand, rushed for four yards on five carries.
When asked if McCoy was making a push for a starting position, The Wannstache said: "We have to figure it out. ... We're going to need them all. If you're going to run the football, which we are going to do, we're going to need them all. Kevin Collier, Conredge Collins, Sharif Harris ... I was pleased with all of the backs."
Prodigal freshman Pat Bostick made his scrimmage debut and performed admirably, connecting on 10 of 13 throws for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Sadly, because of his leave of absence, Bostick has at least temporarily handed the starting position to the less inspiring Bill Stull. Stull, for his part, was 9 of 15 for 58 yards with a touchdown and an interception that was returned for a score.
"It's Billy's job," Wannstedt said. "We'll see what happens. I know we can win with Billy Stull. I have the confidence in him and I know his teammates have confidence in him."
I'd say it's Billy's job until after his third consecutive unimpressive performance at Virginia on Sept. 29, and then it's Patty's job, and Patty, though he doesn't lead the Panthers to a bowl, gives Pitt fans cause to be optimistic heading into 2008.
There wasn't too much news coming out of Storrs on Saturday, where the UConn football team ran a whopping 115-play scrimmage.
"We got a lot of good work in today in terms of the number of plays," head coach Randy Edsall said. "We didn't have the production that we were looking for from the offensive point of view but I thought the defense did a good job. We just have to make sure that we keep working. We have three more practices before our final scrimmage on Wednesday at the stadium and then we get ready to go for Duke."
And, uh, I guess that's it. Get up Tyler Lorenzen.
Syracuse didn't need a scrimmage to produce bad news over the weekend, as it was announced on Saturday that freshman linebacker Jermaine Pierce is suffering from a life-threatening blod-clotting issue that is forcing him to give up football. Considered by many to be the the crown jewel of the freshman class, Pierce was expected to see some immediate playing time in '07.