How good will the Cincinnati Bearcats be in 2014 under head coach Tommy Tuberville? Bearcat Insider looks at five questions on the offensive side of the ball the Bearcats head coach will look to answer when he takes his team to Camp Higher Ground this weekend.
The last time Kiel was under center for a game that counted for something was his senior year at Columbus (IN) East High School in 2011. Kiel, who was at Notre Dame in 2012 left the Irish program in April of 2013 and has become very comfortable as a Bearcat since arriving on campus. His performance in the Bearcats spring game have the Bearcat faithful excited as to what he’ll be able to do with a full stable of talented receivers. But he’s yet to see a pass rush like he’ll see when the Bearcats open the season. If not, Tuberville will need to hope junior college transfer Jarred Evans is ready or Munchie Legaux proves he’s fully recovered from his horrific injury suffered last season.
The loss of three senior offensive linemen who combined to 24 start games last season at left and right guard is a major loss. No one from last season’s roster has started a game at the two positions meaning this will be the biggest battle to watch in preseason camp.
Is the Cincinnati receiving corps as good as many feel it has the potential to become?
Headlined by Shaquille Washington (78 catches – 783 yards) and Chris Moore (45 catches – 645 yards – 9 TDs), the Bearcats could have one of the best group of wide receivers in all of college football if MeKale McKay continues his growth and others step forward to help replace the production of Anthony McClung (72 catches – 939 yards – 5 TDs).
Will a workhorse back emerge in camp that offensive coordinator Eddie Gran can count on?
There is not a depth concern at the running back position as the Bearcats return both Hosey Williams (669 yards – 5.7 Avg) and Ralph Abernathy who the staff would love to see come out of the backfield more to catch passes or play out in space as a slot.
Ralph David Abernathy IV.Tion Green has the talent but has yet to find the consistency needed to give the staff a comfort level. E.J. Junior had a solid spring and will listed as a fullback, is fully capable of being a power back who can carry the ball more than once or twice a game. Bearcat Insider will be watching to see who steps forward.
Can the offense as a whole be as potent as last season’s group?
The Bearcats posted some great offensive numbers last season on the stat sheet with a total of 6,137 yards and 56 total touchdowns (471 points, 2,190 yards rushing and 3,947 yard passing) under offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. However, take away the Northwestern State game where they scored 66 points and posted 669 yards of total offense and you found a team that struggled a few times (Miami Ohio, Illinois).
Improvements should be expected in year two of the Bearcats offensive under Gran as the players returning to the system should be even more comfortable in the scheme and able to improve on areas that proved to be weak points a season ago. As we asked in each of our first four questions, quarterback play, protection along the offensive line, solid play from receivers and running back are a must if the Bearcats are to win the American Athletic Conference as many feel they are capable of doing.