by Chaz Bolte for Football Nation
Here’s a look at the top pass-catch tandems in the Big East for 2011.
Geno Smith/Tavon Austin – West Virginia University Mountaineers
Dana Holgorsen is taking over in Morgantown after leading the explosive Oklahoma State offense as OC. WVU already has the weapons to play in the spread offense and this year could see some huge stats for Smith and Austin. Smith,once labeled as a “dual-threat” back has never looked like the second coming of Pat White but his 2,763 yards passing and 24 TD’s last season show he is an explosive talent at quarterback. His main target this season will be Tavon Austin, who spent the off-season learning the inner working of Holgorsen’s offense and hitting the weight room hard. He wants to be the next in a line of Holgorsen wide receivers with 100 receptions and 1,000 yards in a season. Smith and Austin are on the Pony Express Award watch list, which will go to the top two- or three-player tandem in the nation. Smith is on the O’Brien Award watch list and Austin is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the 2011 season.
Tino Sunseri/Mike Shanahan – University of Pittsburgh Panthers
New Head Coach Todd Graham brings his pass happy spread offense to the Steel City this fall and Tino Sunseri couldn’t be more excited. The Pittsburgh Central Catholic alumni and son of Alabama Assistant Head Coach Sal Sunseri passed for 2572 yards and 16 TD’s leading the run first Pitt offense in 2010, his first year as a starter. In 2011, Sunseri can expect at least 40 pass attempts per game and will probably regularly hit 400 yards a game. He is on the 2011 Davey O’Brien award watch list and spent his summer teaching at The Manning Family’s OB camp. His main target will be the 6’5, 225 pound junior. Mike Shanahan. Playing second fiddle to 2011 First-Round Draft pick Jon Baldwin in 2010, Shanahan managed to snag 43 catches for 589 yards. This year, as Sunseri’s main target, Shanahan looks to challenge Larry Fitzgerald’s single season receiving record of 1,672 yards. He has been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for 2011.
Chas Dodd/Mark Harrison – Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Sophomore Chas Dodd will enjoy his second season as the Scarlet Knights starter in 2011 looking to improve on his 1,637 yard 11 TD freshman campaign. His main target will be the 6’3 230 pound Sophomore Mark Harrison. Harrison caught 44 balls last season, gaining 829 yards and 9 TD’s while averaging 18.8 yards a catch. The Scarlet Knights have a weak non-conference schedule in 2011 playing North Carolina Central and Ohio at home early in the season. Expect to see this duo put up some big numbers in those games
Zach Collaros/ D.J. Woods – University of Cincinnati Bearcats
Zach Collaros passed for 2,902 yards and 26 TD’s in 2010 playing part of the season injured after a blank injury in the Syracuse game. He enters 2011 on both the Maxwell and O’Brien Award watch lists. The Stuebenville, Ohio native will look to put up over 3,000 yards this season as he tried to place the Bearcats back in the national spotlight. The receiver position is slightly weak for the Bearcats this season meaning 2010 second-team all Big East selection D.J. Woods will be the main target for Collaros. Woods is on the 2011 Biletnikoff Award watch list and looks to take the place of Armon Binns, the Bearcats leading receiver from 2010, who had 1,101 yards and 10 TD’s last season. Woods had 57 receptions for 898 yards and 10 TD’s in 2010.
B.J. Daniels/ A.J. Love – University of South Florida Bulls
B.J. Daniels enters the 2011 as one of the more exciting prospects in the Big East. This will be his second full year as a starter and the Redshirt Junior looks to take USF to new levels of winning. However he will need help from an inexperienced receiving corps that will be led by senior A.J. Love who will return for his Senior season after missing 2010 with an ACL tear. If the 6’2 205 pound Love can return from injury he will be a key to the Bulls passing success in 2011.
Read more: A.J. Love, Armon Binns, B.J. Daniels, Chas Dodd, Cincinnati Bearcats, D.J. Woods, Dana Holgorsen, Davey O’Brien, Geno Smith, Jon Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Harrison, Mike Shanahan, NCAA, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Pittsburgh Panthers, Preseason, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Sal Sunseri, South Florida Bulls, Tavon Austin, Tino Sunseri, Todd Graham, West Virginia Mountaineers, Zach Colarros