Previously we took a look at the returning offensive firepower in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the SEC. Now it's time to look at the Big East and find out who has the most ammunition coming back from last year.
% Yardage Returning
*TPY= 2010 total passing yards
*RPY= Passing Yards from 2010 for players returning in 2011
First let's start with the good news. Out of the six BCS conferences the Big East returns the most percentage of their passing yards by a pretty wide margin (the Pac-12 is second). Only two teams, Louisville and UConn, will be returning less than 3/4 of their passing yardage. The bad news is that the quarterbacking wasn't that good in the Big East last year. The top QB last year (and he returns this year) in terms of passer rating was Geno Smith of West Virginia. He ranked 27th in the Nation last year in Passer Ranking. After him the top guy was Zach Collaros of Cincy, he ranked 39th. Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe it's not, but those are the first and second teamers on our Pre-Spring All Big East team. This years crop of QBs will still be relatively young in the Big East as Collaros and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse are the only returning seniors.
% Yardage Returning
*TRY= 2010 Total Rushing Yards
*RRY= Rushing Yards from 2010 for players returning in 2011
From a rushing standpoint five of the top six Big East rushers from 2010 are gone. Only Isaiah Pead of Cincy returns, he was 4th in the league last year at 1,029 yards. In fact, the Big East is the only major conference to not return at least half of their rushing yards from last year. Look for a lot of new names at the top of the board for the Big East. The top returning rushers outside of Pead are Ray Graham of Pitt, Demetris Murray of USF, and Antwon Bailey of Syracuse. Those are the only three guys in the league that rushed for more than 500 yards last year besides Pead.
% Receptions Returning
*TotRec= Total 2010 Receptions
*RetRec= Receptions from 2010 for players returning in 2011
An interesting note here is that the teams that return the top two QBs (WVU and Cincy) are in the bottom four of the conference in terms of receptions returning. Louisville is the only team in the bottom two of all three categories. Rutgers, UConn and Syracuse all return a good bit of their receiving production from last year and that should help them out from the get-go although Rutgers and UConn will be inexperienced at QB. Syracuse has a good chance to come out of the gate strong as they return a good bit of their passing and receiving and have one of the top returning rushers in the league in Bailey.
RETURNING OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER RANKING:
Taking into account the three metrics above (passing yards returning, rushing yards returning and receptions returning) as well as the overall percentage of the metric the team returned I have compiled a "firepower" ranking which tells us which teams have the most offensive statistics returning from last year. What does this mean? I think it means different things for different teams but for consistency sake it means a lot for teams that have guys coming back. This is an interesting tool to use in conjunction with who teams having coming to challenge for playing time.
In the Big East we can break the returning offensive stats down into three tiers. The top tier is Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. These were also three of the top four teams in terms of total offense last year. Pitt will have a new coach, Cincinnati will be in the second year under a new coach and WVU is bringing in Dana Holgerson to kick ass and take names. The second tier is made up of Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn and USF. Rutgers and Syracuse are on top of this tier with UConn and USF bringing up the rear but all are very close in terms of total offense returning. Louisville is alone in the third tier as they clearly have the least amount of offense returning as they continue to re-build on offense under Charlie Strong.
2. West Virginia
7. South Florida