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Preseason conference predictions

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As some readers may know, the Big East football media day is next week. One of its annual traditions is a preseason media poll, ranking the eight conference teams by order of predicted finish. Over the past few days, I have attempted to survey my fellow Big East bloggers for a similar poll. It was an ad hoc process, so I don't know if everything will come together in time, but here's my public ballot, submitted for customary criticism and ridicule.

By the way, the plan was also to vote for a preseason all-conference team, and to predict the conference award winners.

Predicted order of finish

1. Cincinnati (6-1)
2. West Virginia (5-2)
3. Rutgers (5-2)
4. Pittsburgh (4-3)
5. UConn (4-3)
6. USF (3-4)
7. Louisville (1-6)
8. Syracuse (0-7)

Commentary and other stuff after the jump.

Here's how I see it on paper. Weird stuff tends to happen in small sample sizes, and teams eventually do regress to the mean, so getting even a few of these right is a victory in itself.

1. Cincinnati - I don't think their defense will be very good, even if Bob Diaco is a find at DC. They're losing a lot, there's no cumulative affect left over from the last coaching staff (Kelly's specialty is offense), and switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 inevitably requires a transition period. It won't matter though; Kelly is that good. Not having a defense hasn't stopped the likes of Texas Tech in the past from making the top 25. The only reason Cincy isn't in the preseason 25 polls is pure bias and prejudice.

2. West Virginia - On paper, they deserve to be here, or even above Cincinnati. OL and coaching are concerns, but the defense will be great. No Pat White means no National Championship run, but they still will score points in bunches. Curious to see how the new passing attack looks.

3. Rutgers - Offense will be vanilla boring. One of several fantastic league defenses. Four of my top five teams qualify in that department. Favorable schedule gives them a chance to win it all.

4. Pittsburgh - Defensive line will be so good it'll make your head spin, and Jonathan Baldwin is ready to explode. New offensive coordinator is a wild card, and offensive line may have regressed in offseason. Will both win and lose a game that you wouldn't expect.

5. UConn - Implementing a new spread offense, but I doubt that Edsall gets away from the ball control mindset. Have shown an ability to reload on defense and in the backfield, but passing game still likely to hold them back. Most underrated team in conference, and will win games they couldn't by lulling teams to death with boring play and winning turnover battle.

6. USF - The anti-UConn. Will lose two to three games they shouldn't because of penalties and mental mistakes. Replacing awful former OC a plus, but Arizona fans not too thrilled with replacement. Grothe and Selvie are coming off down years, and they lost an awful lot of their other '08 contributors. People are getting caught up in the hype of two big names - don't buy it. Worst BE team in second half of season the past few years.

7. Louisville - Does have some talent at the offensive skill positions. JUCO influx is a wild card, but odds are that only a few will pan out. Team has long since quit on Kragthorpe.

8. Syracuse - Might have worst offensive line in FBS, which has to drive a former lineman like Doug Marrone bonkers. Defense will actually be worse than last year owing to mass defections during the offseason. Marrone will have growing pains as a first year HC but finally has the program moving in the right direction. They will have to throw redshirts out the window, and play the kids (untainted by GRob's failure essence) over the next two years. They'll take their lumps now, and be competitive in 2011.

Now, here's your obligatory popularity contest with my 1st team All-Conference predictions:

QB: Tony Pike (UC)
RB: Victor Anderson (UL)
RB: Noel Devine (WV)
WR: Jonathan Baldwin (Pitt)
WR: Marshawn Gilyard (UC)
TE: Nate Byham (Pitt)
OT: Anthony Davis (RU)
OT: Mike Hicks (UConn)
OG: Josh Jenkins (WV)
OG: Zach Hermann (USF)
C: Jim McKenzie (SU)
K: Dave Teggart (UConn)
KR/PR: Mardy Gilyard (UC)

DL: Greg Romeus (Pitt)
DL: Arthur Jones (SU)
DL: Lindsey Witten (UConn)
DL: Scooter Berry (WV)
LB: Ryan D'Imperio (RU)
LB: Scott Lutrus (UConn)
LB: Reed Williams (WV)
CB: Jasper Howard (UConn)
CB: Johnny Patrick (UL)
S: Nate Allen (USF)
S: Robert Vaughn (UConn)
P: Rob Long (SU)

2nd team

QB: Matt Grothe (USF)
RB: Mike Ford (USF)
RB: Joe Martinek (RU)
WR: Mike Williams (SU)
WR: Doug Beaumont (UL)
TE: Kazeem Alli (UC)
OT: Greg Tomczyk (UL)
OT: Jeff Linkenbach (UC)
OG: Lucas Nix (Pitt)
OG: Art Forst (RU)
C: Ryan Blaszczyk (RU)
K: Jake Rogers (UC) - pretty sorry group, ain't it?
KR/PR: Mike Holmes (SU)

DL: Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)
DL: George Selvie (USF)
DL: Mick Williams (Pitt)
DL: Alex Silvestro (RU)
LB: Kion Wilson (USF)
LB: Jon Dempsey (UL)
LB: Adam Gunn (Pitt)
CB: Brandon Hogan (WV)
CB: Aaron Berry (Pitt)
S: Aaron Webster (UC)
S: Boogie Allen (WV)
P: Cory Goettsche (UL)

Total:

UC: 7
RU: 6
WV: 6
Pitt: 8
UConn: 6
USF: 6
UL: 6
SU: 5

As far as other RU guys go, I think that Timmy Brown, Shamar Graves, George Johnson, Devin McCourty, and Joe Lefeged deserve to be in the discussion for second team honors. Antonio Lowery and Eric LeGrand could be there by the end of the year.

Individual honors

Preseason Big East Offensive Player of the Year: Victor Anderson
Preseason Big East Defensive Player of the Year: Greg Romeus
Preseason Big East Special Teams Player of the Year: Rob Long
Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year: Tavon Austin
Preseason Big East Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly