KEYS TO VICTORY OVER EASTERN MICHIGAN

Tonight the Bearcats open the 2005 season against MAC foe Eastern Michigan at Nippert Stadium. Bearcat Insider takes a deep look and gives you the keys to a Bearcats victory. Each week before the Bearcats play their next game, Dave Berk will give you the "KEYS TO THE GAME" In the future we'll look to also add a guest analyst.

IT'S THURSDAY AND THAT MEANS GAME DAY!

LISTED BELOW IS THE KEY INFORMATION AND BEARCAT INSIDERS KEYS TO THE GAME.

GAME ONE: EASTERN MICHIGAN - MAC

7:00 P.M. EDT NIPPERT STADIUM (CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI)

TV: NONE      RADIO: 1360 HOMER AM             WEB: www.ucbearcats.com

TICKETS: STILL AVAILABLE WHEN PUBLISHED

WEATHER: SUNNY HIGH IN THE LOW 80'S

EVENTS: BEARCATS BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT ( FIRST 5,000)

2005 RECORD: BOTH TEAMS ARE 0-0

The Bearcats enter the 2005 season opener with many questions to be answered. Will Dustin Grutza carry the torch and power the Bearcats offense into a successful first season in the Big East? Will the youth on defense rise to the occasion and provide the depth needed to sustain a winning season and bowl berth? Are the Bearcats in over their head? This and many other questions will be answered each week in the Bearcat Insider Key's to the Game.

KEY'S ON OFFENSE

This week's key will be the Bearcats offensive line. With Steve Eastlake back to anchor the left tackle position things look to have a solid foundation. But the key will be on the right side with Digger Bujnoch taking over the right tackle position. I expect a solid game from Matt Webster and have been impressed with the play of Jeff Reinstatler and Ryan Brown. While most would say Dustin Grutza is the key, it all starts up front. If Grutza gets time in the pocket and the line can open holes for the running backs the Bearcats will be able to run a balanced attack to start the season.

DEFENSE

Many questions remain on the defensive side of the ball. Will Anderson and Bryd feel they got in over their heads? But while we could look at any of the on field positions as a key there is only one that really stands out. The play of the Bearcats defensive backs will be the KEY to a victory over Eastern Michigan on Thursday night. While we can expect solid play from Antoine Horton, it will be the play of Mike Mickens, John Bowie and Haruki Nakamura that will be the difference in a Bearcats victory or one long night of watching footballs fly all over Nippert. With Eastern Michigan's passing attack ready to spread the field the Bearcats defensive backs will need to be ready. Don't be surprised to see several players get into the game tonight.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Dave Berk: Often overlooked by some teams, special teams can mean the difference in a victory in a tight game. But while most people only see the results of the place kicker as a key, the Bearcats don't have such concerns since they have one of the best in the business. But while Kevin Lovell may be called upon to pull out a victory, it will be the kickoff and punting game that I see as the key to a victory over Eastern Michigan. The battle between Kevin Huber and Chet Ervin is still on-going and may not be settled until the Bearcats finish warm-ups Thursday night. I feel Ervin will win the battle but will need to perform to keep off a charging Huber in the coming weeks. Any slip in this area could mean a big difference in field position and points put on the board by Eastern Michigan.

OVERALL

Dave Berk: I expect the Bearcats to come out and have a shaky start against Eastern Michigan. But look for the coaches to settle them down and get them to perform the game plan. While I do expect Eastern Michigan to be able to throw the ball for yardage, I don't expect them to get into the end zone on a consistent basis. Look for Brent Celek to have a big game along with Mike Daniels as the Bearcats hit several passes over the middle and in the flats. Bradley Glatthaar shows why he will be the main back in the Bearcats offense and rushes for over 100 yards. Dustin Grutza will be a dual threat and pass for 180 yards and rush for 45 yards with a score. Bearcats win the season opener 31 -17 before a very excited crowd.


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