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Few teams have as much to replace as Cincinnati, which graduates running back Isaiah Pead (the Big East's offensive player of the year), linebacker J.K. Schaffer (at least 100 tackles in three straight seasons) and quarterback Zach Collaros (6,270 passing yards since 2009). The losses deprive Butch Jones of critical veteran leadership, and while Munchie Legaux seems the heir apparent under center -- he threw for 688 yards and five touchdowns during Collaros' four-game absence -- the other voids may be tougher to fill. Backup tailback George Winn boasts just 78 career carries, and no returning linebacker tallied more than 60 tackles in 2011.
Cincinnati is a logical candidate to supplant West Virginia as the Big East's alpha dog, as it's won at least a share of the conference crown in three of the past four seasons. But to build off recent success, a discernibly raw roster with just 11 returning starters will have to skip expected growing pains. That means significant maturation from Legaux, wideout Anthony McClung, running back Jameel Poteat and linebacker Dwight Jackson, among others, this spring.
The latest realignment shuffle left the Big East on the brink of irrelevance, with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and expected new member TCU all signing with other leagues. But in the face of eradication, commissioner John Marinatto restocked his dwindling stable. He added Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU for 2013 and Navy as a football-only member for 2015. It's the dawn of a new era -- and with change comes opportunity.
Uh, if we won at least a share of th Big East crown in three of the last four seasons, wouldn't that make us the alpha dog?
Exactly, I saw us as the alpha dog before WVU left.
Since we joined the conference in 2005
WVU has 1 outright title and 2 shared titles
Louisville has 1 outright title and 1 shared title
UConn has 2 shared titles
Pitt has 1 shared title (only has 2 in its entire history and zero outright titles)
Cincinnati has 2 outright titles and 1 shared title.
Overall record goes to WVU though:
Big East records since 2005:
Yes Syracuse has been that bad. (Good riddance?)
Fight Cincinnati: the victory's ours again, The bonfire's light will flare tonight, The Red and Black shall reign!
@J_Rok4 on Twitter
" overall record goes to WVU " , yes but it"s all about titles!
I agree, just wanted to include as much info as I could.
The main reason I think we can overcome a lot of inexperience is because most of it is on offense. I believe we return 7 or 8 starters on defense. We lose Wolfe, Hughes, and Schaeffer, but we return everyone else. We had a pretty solid defense last year and we return a lot. A strong defense can overcome a poor offense. Alabama and OSU have proven that in recent years. OSU always had an awful offense and had a great defense and they would get 10+ wins every year. I think we'll see that next year with UC when we have a lot of two year starters returning. We'll have a lot of veterans on that defense. I think we could have a slow start on offense next year and still win all our games with that defense.
The 4-8 schedule hurt UC's chances of being considered alpha dog. Had UC gone even 7-5 (with a bowl bid) then it would not even be a question. A lot of people saw the BK teams as smoke and mirrors and automatically assumed UC could not sustain the result The 4-8 season empowered those beliefs. Last years result mixed with the new found physicality that this team plays with is starting to change the perception that UC cannot sustain success (although many are still hard to convince).
As for next year, I am looking to see how the QB race unfolds. The WRs will need to step up their game from last season (saw what you want about Munchie's throwing technique, but they didn't help him any) and a few guys we have been waiting anxiously to see play for the last year or two will need to step up as well.
This year is going to be huge for the growth of the program, if UC can continue to battle for a big east title after losing all of those great players it says we are "Reloading" and not "Rebuilding".
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