Since the 2005 football season, Bearcat Insider has written about University of Cincinnati football. Thursday night returned many memories from that first season as the Bearcats never seemed to get on track against North Carolina State.
Say what you want, but things have changed with University of Cincinnati football. Not since early in the 2005 season have I seen the Bearcats look as bad as they have so far this season. Take away a win over a lousy Indiana State team, and the Bearcats have been beaten on both sides of the football while showing a lack of confidence, leadership, and discipline.
While you expect things to be different with a new head coach and possible growing pains, you have to start questioning what has happen to a team that had gone 33-7 over the past three seasons.
Yes, Brian Kelly and all but one of his coaches are gone. Tony Pike, Mardy Gilyard, and a few others have graduated. Nevertheless, the cupboard was not left empty and there was not a major rebuilding needed for this season.
With the coaching change, fans were told to expect a spread attack at an even faster pace than Kelly's did. What we have witnessed is an offense that looks lost, and without a direction. Do not look at the stat sheet and say the Bearcats posted 385 yards of total offense, look deeper and see that the final two drives accounted for 158 of those yards.
The Bearcats had the football for 14 drives against North Carolina State. Out of the first twelve, the Bearcats had a missed field goal, the long touchdown to D.J. Woods for 68 yards, a lost fumble, a loss on downs, the end of the half, and 7 punts.
Butch Jones has stressed he wants a physical and running attack for his offense. The Bearcats gained 123 yards on the ground but lost 48 due to the number of sacks given up. Zach Collaros was give control of the ball 22 times while John Goebel and Darrin Williams got a total of nine carries. On those nine carries, Goebel and Williams averaged over 4 yards each while Collaros ended up with an average of 1.5 yards.
As for the passing game, the Bearcats lack of protection is not one player breaking down. Four different State players recorded sacks with one getting two on the night. Again, just like in the Fresno State game, C.J. Cobb looked to either not be healthy, or lacking the skills to control the edge.
If not for shooting itself in the foot, North Carolina State would have pushed the score even higher than the end results. Take away the two late Bearcat touchdowns when the Wolfpack went into a prevent defense, and the Bearcats would have only placed 7 points on the board or at best 14.
Mental mistakes, penalties, lack of adjustments, and the lack of protection by the offensive line all played a role in this loss. The blame can go from the top to the bottom. However, it is easy to see some fundamentals have been loss from the previous several seasons.
The identity built by Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly looks to have been washed away. Players are seen yelling at each other, throwing punches at opponents and losing their cool when it matters most.
The 2010 Bearcats entered the season with much promise, as Zach Collaros was set to add to his outstanding season of a year ago. Instead, Collaros looks like a shell of the quarterback Bearcat fans watched last season.
Coach Butch Jones said during Thursday's game that Zach needed to learn how to manage the game, the problem is that in the past three seasons, Brian Kelly managed the game as players did the things they were told to do without much questions.
Not since the 2005 season when Mark Dantonio played a majority of true freshmen has the Bearcats looked this sloppy and unorganized. It was easy then to give the Bearcats excuses as no one expects true freshmen to step up and perform at their highest level.
Thursday's game has exposed the Bearcats and the rest of the season looks to be shaping up as one that will be hit and miss. We all know there is talent on this roster. While we keep hearing about how young this team is, we keep forgetting that the majority of the players taking the field have seen major game experience and made plays when it mattered and not just in mop up playing time.
Next weekend the Bearcats have Oklahoma coming to Cincinnati. Let's hope this team finds itself and the ship is righted or next Saturday's score could be even worse than what we saw on Thursday night.