Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
With the season thankfully bearing down upon us, it's time to look at each Big East team's positional groups and -- as we like to do around here from time to time -- rank them. Let's start with the most-watched position on the field: quarterback. These rankings reflect the position group as a whole, not just the starters, so depth matters.
1. Cincinnati: Really close call between No. 1 and No. 2 on this list. I give the slight edge to the Bearcats because of overall experience. Tony Pike, of course, should be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His two backups, Zach Collaros and Chazz Anderson, both contributed key plays in tough situations last year.
Mark Zerof/US Presswire
Tony Pike gives the Bearcats a solid starter at quarterback.
Collaros mopped up a victory on the road at Akron and took late snaps against Pitt, while Anderson started and won games against Marshall and Rutgers. And Brian Kelly has shown he's one of the best at developing quarterbacks.
2. South Florida: On a pure talent level, the Bulls might deserve the top spot. Matt Grothe is as valuable a player as there is in the league, a four-year starter who almost never misses a snap. Coaches have been raving about freshmen backups Evan Landi and B.J. Daniels, both of whom figure to play this season. Landi will likely see time at receiver, while Daniels will get snaps as Grothe's backup and perhaps in some special packages. The lack of experience for those two is the only thing keeping this ranking down.
3. West Virginia: There are three Big East teams that enter the season feeling entirely comfortable and confident about their starting quarterbacks. Though Jarrett Brown has only started two career games, he's a fifth-year senior with a vast amount of ability. The only concern is keeping him healthy. The play of true freshman Geno Smith i
n training camp has eased worries about depth. Having Coley White as a No. 3 is a nice luxury to have, as well.
4. Rutgers: The drop-off between No. 3 and the Nos. 4-8 in this league is substantial. Rutgers doesn't lack for candidates under center, with seniors Dom Natale and Jabu Lovelace and freshmen D.C. Jefferson and Tom Savage all in the mix. Natale looks like he'll start to open the season, though Greg Schiano has said Lovelace will play in certain packages. And Jefferson and Savage are making strong pushes in practice. None of the four has looked like the second coming of Mike Teel yet, but perhaps one will emerge.
5. Pittsburgh: As badly as Pitt fans beat up Bill Stull, he did lead the team to eight wins last season. But it's true that he played very poorly down the stretch and has been less than impressive in training camp. Redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri has made a move in practice and could eventually supplant Stull, while Pat Bostick seems to be the odd man out. The Panthers aren't going to have a star at quarterback, but at least they have three players they can plug in who can give them a chance to win.
6. Connecticut: Zach Frazer has pretty clearly established himself as the starter, and he has a strong arm and good leadership skills. But he's still unproven and struggled with his accuracy and decision-making last year. Cody Endres has a similar skill set as Frazer and could take over without much of a problem. Freshman Mike Box has looked good in practice. The key will be how Frazer and the rest pick up the new offense.
7. Louisville: Steve Kragthorpe should name his starter this week between Justin Burke and Adam Froman, who have run neck and neck all spring. Burke is a little more accurate and cerebral, while Froman has better wheels and is more fiery. Froman has been slowed recently by a shoulder injury. Expect both to play this year. Third-stringer Zack Stoudt might have more natural ability than either of them, but he still needs to learn the finer points of the game.
8. Syracuse: Greg Paulus won the starting job after four years off and just a week of practice, but it wasn't like he had to beat out Donovan McNabb. The Orange's other options were a redshirt freshman in Ryan Nassib and a former walk-on in Cam Dantley. I still have serious doubts about how effective Paulus can be with so little college football experience. So until he proves otherwise, Syracuse gets the lowest spot on this list.
How would you rank the Big East quarterbacks?