The Cincinnati Bearcats football team had a open week last week to hit the reset button on a season that has had it’s ups and downs so far.
The Bearcats got a season changing 34-23 victory over Miami at Nippert Stadium on October 1st., a win Tommy Tuberville called a huge one for the program.
“That was a big win for us and the program,” said Tuberville. “I think we built some confidence heading into the rest of the season.”
Tuberville is correct from a confidence standpoint for the Bearcats. After falling to 2-2 the Bearcats season prior to the Miami game was heading in the wrong direction, but after a great defensive performance in the second half, the Bearcats now have confidence as they prepare for the 4-2 BYU Cougars.
They certainly will be refreshed after the bye week and Tuberville will have an interesting decision to make at the quarterback position as quarterback Gunner Kiel has been cleared to practice.
Tuberville indicated after the Miami game there would be a quarterback competition once Kiel returned from injury and he stood by that decision Tuesday as he spoke at his weekly press conference.
“Gunner was cleared on Sunday and they (Hayden Moore) will compete for the starting job,” he said. “It’s a good situation as we have two guys we feel good about taking us to the next level.”
Tuberville made it clear there won’t be a decision on who starts at quarterback until game time.
The Bearcats have an interesting situation at quarterback now. Do you ride the hot arm of Hayden Moore or insert back Kiel who has proven he can lead this team despite the turnovers the early part of the season?
That’s the big question for Tuberville and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will have to make Friday night..
Boone, a sophomore out of Macclenny,Florida, led the Bearcats last season in rushing with 650 yards and nine touchdowns. He brings a different element to the Bearcats offense than Hosey Williams and Tion Greene. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make defenders miss is key for the offense. Boone can also take the ball the distance as he proved in his best game so far this season against the Miami RedHawks with only four carries but for 118 yards.
“Mike Boone is great in the open field and yards after contact,” said Tuberville. “He brings our offense to another level because he can do a lot in certain situations and he is fresh after the week off.”
Boone may be looked to contribute more this week due to Williams and Greene carrying much of the load since he’s been injured. He proved last season he is more than capable of the bigger responsibilities.
One of the biggest advantages BYU may have over the Bearcats is the fact they haven’t had any time off.
The Bearcats will have to adjust back to the speed of the game after the week off. However, getting the extra week off is an advantage as the Bearcats needed the time to get players healthy for a strong stretch run to finish up the season.
Tuberville spoke about the disadvantage of the week off heading into a game against a team who has momentum from playing all six games so far this season.
“You have to get back into a routine when it comes to the speed of the game,” he said. “It’s hard to get that edge back when you been off for a week but if we play hard, play fast, and play smart, if do those three things, the lay off won’t hurt us as much.”
Tuberville knows his team must play smart to beat the Cougars. One of the biggest positives from the Miami victory was the fact the Bearcats only had one turnover which helped the offense get into a nice rhythm in the first half.
We’ve talked about the weapons this team has offensively which has them ranked fifth in the NCAA overall and the defense showed signs of improvement in the second half against Miami.
With the week off the Bearcats are getting healthy. So now is the time for this team to live up to the expectations they had coming into the season. Everything is in place for UC to put together some wins and get to a bowl game. They showed they can eliminate turnovers on offense and get timely stops on defense when needed. With a healthy team the second half may be more what Bearcat Nation expected when the season starts.
The new season starts Friday night at BYU.