The Cincinnati Bearcats finally put together a complete performance Saturday blowing out Connecticut 37-13 on homecoming night.
With an offense that put up 612 total yards and defense that held Bryant Shirreffs in check only allowing 266 yards. The game was pretty much decided by the third quarter. But was head coach Tommy Tuberville satisfied?
Positive signs for the Bearcats was the play of their defense that has seen it’s share of struggles all season long. Going up against a Huskies team not known for their offense, defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale’s group practically played their best game of the season.
“Defensively we played well, we played hard, we played consistent,” said Tuberville at his weekly Tuesday press conference. “We only gave up I believe 2 of 11 third down conversions which is huge compared to what we have done in the pass.”
Winning third down conversions was key for the defense as they were able to get the ball back for Gunner Kiel and the offense.
For Kiel, it was his best performance of the season as he threw for 327 yards completing 74-percent of his throws after missing the past two games. Kiel showed no signs of rush and was in rhythm early in the game. More importantly, he had zero turnovers.
As the Bearcats prepare for Central Florida, Tuberville has already made the decision to keep an open competition between Kiel and redshirt freshman Hayden Moore.
”There will be a quarterback competition with Moore and Kiel this week and it will start in practice today at three o'clock,” said Tuberville. “We’ve got the best of both worlds as we’ve got two guys who can play, two guys that are friends and two guys who are trying to do the best on every play they take a snap. It’s only going to make them better.”
Tuberville spoke about different situations that favor each quarterback and feels Kiel throws the football better in the rain than Moore. That most likely is the reason Kiel got the start over Moore Saturday.
“Gunner throws the ball really well when it’s wet which was important Saturday,” said Tuberville. ”He shows his benefit in a certain situation,but I still rather have both instead of one.”
It’s important for Tuberville to make a decision and stick with it for the offense to have some continuity and familiarity at the quarterback position. It can also send the wrong message to your football team when you waver back and forth on who your starting quarterback will be week to week.
As the Bearcats prepare for Saturday it will be important to remember the motivating factor the Knights will have coming into the game. They are 0-8 on the season and 12 year head coach George O’Leary stepped down Sunday.
Rather it be in the pros with the Miami Dolphins or at the collegiate level with USC, for whatever reason teams that lose their head coach come out and play more motivated and free. The Knights, despite being winless on the season have competed in many games this season.
“They have been unlucky in some situations and lost their quarterback most of the year,” said Tuberville. “He’s back so we expect to see a much improved football team Saturday.”
With the Knights looking for their first victory on the season they will be playing with a nothing to lose mentality, so the home team must get off to a fast start and not let them hang around.
The Bearcats have to make sure the Knights don’t gain any confidence to steal a game from them on the road. With five games to play it’s time for this Bearcats football team to make a statement and put together some wins for a bowl game opportunity. In a game where they will be highly favored, they must play good football and make up some ground in the American Athletic Conference. A lost would crush the hopes of Bearcat fans of getting back in contention for an AAC crown. So Saturday will be huge for the Bearcats moving forward this season.