When the whistle blew to end Saturday afternoons spring game, that didn't mean the questions ended. Bearcat Insiders Tim Adams has the "TWELVE BIG QUESTIONS" Bearcat fans are asking.


1. Where will Anthony Hoke play?

We know he's going to be on the field somewhere. He was extremely active as a linebacker on defense, but he has a lot to learn since he played there only a week. If UC uses him at linebacker in Coach Narduzzi's system, he could really help in pressuring the QB. Plus, he goes from being an undersized DE to a good sized LB but can he pass cover? The answer to some of these questions could lie with an incoming freshmen. If Curtis Smith is eligible, he could provide more depth at DE and allow Hoke to play more LB.


2. Who will play cornerback opposite Antoine Horton?

John Bowie is the most logical answer since he has the most experience, but this spring saw a three person rotation at that spot with K.L. Smith and Walter Dudley joining Bowie with 1st team reps. Once again, could the answer lie with the incoming players? Would Brad Jones, Mike Mickens or Cedric Tolbert figure into the plans?


3. What's going to happen at DT?

The spring saw no clear cut winners at those positions. Four guys got meaningful reps including D'arrell Brown, Jon Newton, Jordan Roth, and Jamie Wimmer. Plus, Adam Hoppel looked good in the spring game. Does that mean there is depth or are the Bearcat coaches looking for someone else to claim those spots? There is a wild card. This recruiting class has maybe the best collection of talent UC has ever gotten at those positions. Both Carey Coombs of Colerain and Doug Ramsey of Elder believe Terrill Byrd will play immediately, and several people close to the program believe Thomas Claggett and Patrick Mimms are capable of playing as true freshmen. There may be more questions than answers at this point for these positions.

4. What's going to happen at LB?

Carpenter is a given. He's a bright guy, and he'll continue to improve. He led the defense in tackles in the spring game. Leo Morgan provides some maturity, but he was slowed a bit by injuries in the spring. Kevin McCullough had a good spring, but I really didn't notice him much in the spring game. Lamonte Nelms and Tyjuan Jones are trying to make the switch from DB to LB, and they each missed significant time in the spring due to injuries. I really like McCullough which mean absolutely nothing in the big picture. Hoke looked good at LB, but he's never played the position in a game. Can Andre Revels or Corey Smith help? There are still many more questions than answers at this position.



5. What happens at safety?

Haruki Nakamura and Dom Ross were the clear starters, but Ross was injured in the spring game, and Haruki had some health problems last season in limited action. JaJuan Hall has experience, but he's coming off knee surgery. Terry Arnold has been learning the positions and has good size. Will he be ready to make a push this summer? What about Brad Jones and Cedric Tolbert as true freshmen? I think there's a decent chance one of these freshmen DB's will be in the rotation next year.


6. Who's the other DE?

There's no surprise that Adam Roberts is the stud of the D-line, but if Hoke goes to LB, then what happens? Michael Brown was highly touted by Coach Minter a couple years ago, but fans haven't seen much of Michael. Brown showed a lot of heart, hustle and determination this spring and even ended up with the #1 unit after Hoke moved to LB. Tony Carvitti and Donald Germany continue to plug away, and Carvitti had a good spring game, but do the coaches see them as "tweeners" at DE? People are very high on Curtis Smith, but will he be eligible? There's still a lot to be settled at this position too.



1. Who's the #2 QB?

There's no doubt Dustin Grutza is #1, but who's #2? Coach Enos has already said they cannot give more than 2 of the 4 spring QB's reps next August. With Craig Carey, David Wess and Dominick Goodman adding to the competition next summer, there isn't enough time to work with seven quarterbacks. In fact, they probably have to whittle the field quickly to three or even two shortly after practice starts. Coach Coombs has said Dominick Goodman can play QB in college since he threw 150 passes every practice last year, but throwing in a high school practice and throwing in a college game are very different. I don't see Goodman being a factor at QB next year. David Wess has already sat out a season with his transfer from Minnesota. He'll want to get on the field next year. He's already been identified by Coach Dantonio as one of his ten best athletes on the team so I see Wess changing positions unless he just totally impresses Coach Enos at QB. I see at least one of the QB's transferring for a better opportunity to play.

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2. What about that O-line?

They gave up 12 or 13 sacks in the spring game. That's a lot. But Coach Narduzzi's defensive schemes are tough to defend, and these O-linemen played very little last year. Also remember the one returner, Steve Eastlake, sat out. On the plus side, they did a nice job with the running game. I believe these guys will continue to get better with Coach Staten and Coach Roushar's help.

3. Is receiver a concern?

I thought Derick Ross had the best spring, but even he dropped a ball in the spring game. I love Bill Poland. He's a great student, a hard worker, a loyal Bearcat, but he needs to take the next step with his game. He has to show those great hands he displayed in high school. Earnest Jackson is the top returnee, but he missed much of spring due to nagging injuries. Jackson's an ex-QB and could still have some big plays in his right arm. Could David Wess end up here? Is Charlie Vample or Carlos Simpson ready to grab playing time? Until these position players consistently catch the football, Bearcat fans will be concerned.



4. What are the offensive positions of strength?

Every Bearcat fan knows running back has depth and talent. Coach Dantonio himself has called it the deepest position on the team. I'm a Glatthaar fan because he's capable of getting the tough yardage and doesn't fumble, but Delbert Ferguson has certainly entered the picture for playing time, especially with Butler Benton being hurt. Mike Daniels looks even faster and better, but he needs to hang onto the football. Tight end is also solid. Celek is a top TE, and Hank Davis continues to improve. Add newcomers Connor Baldwin and Kazeem Alli to the mix and a fan feels confident at TE.



5. What happens if Doug Jones gets hurt at FB?

I think this could be a real problem. The staff moved Marcus Winston from LB to FB to add some depth, but he's still learning the position. Jones' back-up last year, Carpenter, looks to be one of the stalwarts at LB so it's unlikely he'd return. Brad Bury was nicked up much of spring. I see depth as a problem at this position. Maybe Marcus Waugh sees playing time as a true freshman.

6. What about the kicking game?

Lovell is a good kicker, and Ervin returns for his final year as the punter. The "young legs" were a surprise to me. Local walk-ons Brandon Yingling and Kevin Huber are just waiting for an opportunity to show what they can do, and both can kick. Del Greco's no slouch either.


There are a lot of questions still to be answered. Will everyone stay? Who's going to hit the weight room the hardest and come back in August ready to claim a position? Which recruits are ready to step up to Division IA college football as true freshmen? What recruits will commit to UC this summer? Bearcat Insider's growing staff will be on hand to answer those questions and many more.



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