Big East mailbag

Every Big East team is practicing. Let's get back in practice of talking real-life football in the ol' mailbag:

Ken from Philly writes: Hey, Brian, I know that UConn has some concerns, especially in the secondary and replacing Andre Dixon as you have pointed out. But wouldn't you rather have a green secondary than have to replace QBs like Pitt and WVU have to do? Also UConn and the Big East in general keeps replacing very productive RBs without missing a beat -- just look at Lewis, Devine, and Todman and who they took over for.

Brian Bennett: I'm not too worried about Connecticut's running game; with that O-line, they'll move the ball on the ground. As to to whether I'd rather have a green secondary or a new quarterback, well, that's a tough question. The thing with Pitt and West Virginia is they have so many weapons around their young quarterbacks that I think they'll be just fine. The Huskies have to be able to stop people through the air in order to have the kind of year they're capable of having. One good thing: that first game against Michigan probably won't test the safeties too much because the Wolverines are not a huge passing team.

Luke from Louisville writes: Can you actually defend why you are ranking Syracuse above Louisville? Or is it just arbitrary since someone has to be at the bottom, and everyone just feels sorry for the Orange at this point? UofL did, after all, win the Bottom of the Barrel Bowl last year.

Brian Bennett: First off, I wouldn't use last year's 10-9 win by Louisville as a way to defend the Cardinals; that was truly one of the ugliest games I have ever seen. I just think Louisville has some serious talent issues on the defense, particularly up front and in the secondary, and is going through a coaching change. I like Syracuse to improve this year in the second season under Doug Marrone. The Orange defense was pretty good last year, and I think the offense has potential to build upon the way it played late last season against Rutgers and Syracuse.

Newman from Cincinnati writes: Interesting note on Kenbrell Thompkins: He'll be elligible in 2011; doesn't Cincinnati open the season against Tennesee in 2011?

Brian Bennett: Hello, Newman. Actually, my understanding is that the Bearcats open with Albany and then travel to Tennessee. But an excellent observation on your part nonetheless. Newman!

Chris from Orlando writes: I'm having a difficult time understanding the Maxwell Watch list. Seven BE players made the list, but I'm curious to how Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead, who rushed for a modest 806 yards and nine touchdowns, made the list while USF's BJ Daniels, by comparison, rushing for 772 yards and nine touchdowns (not to mention 1,983 passing yards and 14 TDS), did not. I mean that's 2755 yards and 23 TDS (1949 yrds and 14TDS more than Pead). Can you explain Pead's selection over Daniels to this list?

Brian Bennett: I can't explain it with any logic, either. Maybe voters just have a hard time remembering there's a program in Tampa. The Unitas Golden Arm Award left Matt Grothe off its watch list last preseason until I pointed it out.

Tom from NYC writes: Just something regarding that 2006 Rutger -Louisville game. If I recall correctly, Clarke Harris (the longsnapper) said in an interview that he snapped the ball early, before Ito was ready, because [William] Gay jumped offside. I'm sure that could easily be revisionist on his part, but it's worth noting before we blame Gay for the loss. Great work as always.

Brian Bennett: I was at that game and I think you make a great point. My observation while watching it live was that Jeremy Ito and Rutgers knew there was an offsides penalty on the play and therefore didn't put full focus on the kick. Still, the penalty did give Ito an extra five yards. We'll never know how much difference that would have made.

Jim from Highland Park, N.J., writes: How tall are you? You were standing next to a few players and the commish for interviews. For fun I wanted to see how tall they actually were. And don't stretch it an inch or two like they do.

Brian Bennett: If you were listing me in the media guide, I'd probably be 5-foot-11. But I'm actually just a hair over 5-9. Makes me look tall when I'm interviewing Dion Lewis and Noel Devine. Not so much later this week when you see my video with Louisville's 6-foot-9 tight end Josh Chichester.