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August 11, 2009
Big East preseason unit rankings
7. Connecticut: Zach Frazer and Cody Endres, who are vying to be the new starting quarterback, combined to throw nine picks in 167 attempts last season. Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon will try to replace TB Donald Brown.
1. Cincinnati: WR Mardy Gilyard headlines a deep group.
7. Syracuse: Mike Williams (60 catches, 837 yards, 10 touchdowns in 2007) returns after missing last season for academic reasons. He gives the offense big-play potential.
8. Connecticut: Blame the quarterbacks for the passing-game struggles if you want, but the Huskies' receivers haven't been world-beaters, either.
1. Rutgers: All five starters are back, including potential All-America T Anthony Davis.
4. Connecticut: The Huskies lose T Will Beatty and G Moe Petrus is moving to center, but the line should be the strength of the offense.
7. Louisville: The Cardinals are counting on redshirt freshman Mario Benavides to take over for first-round pick Eric Wood at center. The first-string line will be solid, but the unit lacks depth.
8. Syracuse: The line has been a problem for several seasons. New coach Doug Marrone - a former Syracuse lineman - needs to focus his efforts on this position.
8. Louisville: Three line starters are gone from a team that had the fewest sacks in the Big East.
5. USF: With 66 tackles last season, Kion Wilson leads a pedestrian group of linebackers. He is the only proven college player among the group.
1. Pittsburgh: Led by CB Aaron Berry, three starters return in the secondary. The Panthers intercepted 16 passes last season.
6. Cincinnati: FS Aaron Webster is the only returning defensive starter. The secondary must replace stalwarts Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith.
7. Louisville: Johnny Patrick is one of the league's best cover corners, but he needs help.
3. Pittsburgh: The Panthers must replace their kicker and their punter, but they were one of the best teams in the league in kickoff and punt coverage. They also blocked a nation-leading 10 kicks and punts.
6. West Virginia: K/P Pat McAfee is gone, and the Mountaineers were awful on kickoff coverage last season.
7. Louisville: The return units will be fine, as will P Cory Goettsche, but the kicking game and coverage units struggled last season.
8. Syracuse: Rob Long's punting (37.4 yards net) was one of the few areas where Syracuse didn't rank seventh or eighth in the Big East.
1. Cincinnati: Other programs will seek Brian Kelly's services as long as he's winning Big East titles at Cincinnati.
3. Rutgers: Greg Schiano's success is no fluke. Rutgers has won three consecutive bowl games and has the second-best record in the Big East since 2005.
David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.