For three straight weeks the Cincinnati Bearcats were looking like a team that many fans haven’t seen in years, giving up over 500 yards of total offense against Ohio State, Miami (FL) and Memphis but now they seem like they have found themselves.
Three solid outings against SMU, South Florida and Tulane now have the Cats back in the hunt for an American Athletic Conference title. Now I know many people might say that SMU is terrible, South Florida not much better and Tulane falls in the same category. However, at least the defense resembles something we all saw a year ago.
The key to any good defense is solid tackling, creating turnovers and stopping the run. Well the Cats did a great job against South Florida, holding the Bulls to a mere 42 yards rushing. No matter who you are, if you can hold a team under 50 yards rushing I would say that you have a very good shot at winning. The Cats did give up a few big plays in the passing game but those came when the game was really out of reach.
The big surprise of the game for me was the emergence of a running game led by freshman running back Mike Boone. Boone’s 212 yards rushing is the first 200 yard game since Isaiah Pead accomplished it a few years ago. With a running game, the offense can finally have a balanced attack and protect Gunner Kiel or Munchie Legaux a little longer in the pocket.
Now comes the tough part! The competition looks as if it’s about to get tougher as the Bearcats get ready to face their toughest opponent offensively this season in the East Carolina Pirates. While the Pirates are coming off an embarrassing 20-10 loss on the road at Temple, I stated in my preseason review that this team is very potent offensively and it’s also a team that is capable of putting up 50 plus points on UC if they do not come to play.
The motivation should be there for the Cats as they and the Pirates will enter the game each with 3-1 conference records and the fact it is a night home game at PBS.
Hopefully, this glimpse of life the defense has shown is one that carries the Cats the rest of the season because this team needs defense to win games.