Bearcats Close 2005 Season at Rutgers
The University of Cincinnati will close out the 2005 football season on Saturday, visiting Rutgers for a 1 p.m. EST contest.
The Bearcats, 4-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play, will be out to snap a two-game losing skid and end the season on a high note in Saturday's finale. UC is coming of losses to No. 13 West Virginia, which leads the BIG EAST Conference, and USF, which is challenging the Mountaineers for the league's BCS berth.
Rutgers will also be out to end a two-game losing streak while building credentials for its bowl berth. The Scarlet Knights became bowl eligible for the first time since the 1992 season with a win over Navy on Oct. 29. They have since dropped decisions to USF and Louisville to fall to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the BIG EAST.
The Bearcats will face a Rutgers defense that is ranked fourth nationally in sacks (3.80 per game) and fifth in tackles for loss (9.0). The Scarlet Knight rush is led by defensive ends Val Barnaby and Ryan Neill, who rank second and third in the BIG EAST Conference is sacks.
Mike Mickens, the Bearcats' first-year freshman cornerback, continues to rank among the nation's leaders in passes defended. Mickens, who continues to add to his credentials for conference and national all-freshman honors, has 14 pass breakups and an interception, giving him an average of 1.50 passes defended per game.
The game matches two of the oldest football programs in college football. Rutgers, which inaugurated the sport with their game vs. Princeton on Nov. 6, 1869, is the oldest while Cincinnati, which began play in 1888, is the fifth oldest. Michigan (1879), Navy (1880) and Minnesota (1883) round out the top five oldest Division I-A football programs.
The Bearcats will be looking for their first victory in New Jersey. Cincinnati has lost all five previous games at Rutgers Stadium, and are on the short end of a 6-3-1 series record. The teams last played in 1994.
The game will be the final contest for 10 seniors: OG Ryan Brown, OT Steve Eastlake, P Chet Ervin, CB Walter Dudley, DE Donald Germany, DE Adam Roberts, WR Derick Ross, C Matt Webster, C Joel Yakovac, and LB Jonny Zwitt.
The Scarlet Knights, with a 6-4 ledger, are bowl eligible for the first time since the 1992 season. Freshman defensive back Courtney Green is second in the BIG EAST and 20th nationally in tackles, averaging 10.2 per game. The Scarlet Knights are second to Louisville in the BIG EAST Conference in passing offense (220.7 yards per game) and total offense (365.9). Rutgers has lost the fewest fumbles (3) of any Division I-A team this season.
UC vs. Rutgers
Saturday's game will be the 11th meeting between Cincinnati and Rutgers, and the first since 1994. The Scarlet Knights hold a 6-3-1 lead in the series, and are a perfect 5-0 in games played in Rutgers Stadium.
Ray Lucas tossed a pair of second quarter touchdowns and Rutgers held off a late Cincinnati rally for a 14-9 win in New Brunswick on Oct. 15, 1994. Cincinnati scored first on a Tom Dallen 29-yard field goal, before Lucas went to work. The Bearcats closed the gap on a 49-yard Eric Vibberts touchdown pass to James Scott with 1:12 remaining in the game.
Two members of the Rutgers coaching staff previously served at Cincinnati. Defensive line coach Cary Godette held the same position at Cincinnati from 1983-89. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Craig Ver Steeg was at UC from 1990-93 and wide receivers tutor and later quarterbacks coach. Additionally, a pair of former Bearcats also serve on the Scarlet Knight football staff. Chris Hewitt, a defensive back on the 1993-96 UC teams, is speed and skills development coach while Tony Smikle, who played running back and receiver on the 1997-2000 UC teams, is a physical development assistant. Rutgers running backs coach Robert Jackson and Cincinnati offensive line coach Dan Roushar coached together at Illinois from 2003-04.
Bob Goin, who will retire from the University of Cincinnati director of athletics position on Dec. 1, will be the honorary captain for Saturday's game. Goin, who will become AD Emeritus upon retirement, will complete eight years at Cincinnati, during which he put together a plan for over $100 million of facilities renovation and construction and steered Cincinnati into membership in the BIG EAST Conference. Head coach Mark Dantonio began recognizing former UC players and coaches by naming them honorary game captains last season. The honorary captains participate with the elected captains in the pregame meal with the team as well as the pregame as coin toss.
On This Date Cincinnati is 4-3-1 in games played on Nov. 26. The opponent for all of these games was Miami (Ohio), a traditional season-ending foe for the Bearcats.
1966 Miami (Ohio)................... L, 28-8
1959 Miami (Ohio)................. W, 14-7
1953 Miami (Ohio)................. W, 14-0
1942 Miami (Ohio)................ W, 21-12
1936 Miami (Ohio..................... T, 0-0
1931 Miami (Ohio)................. W, 20-0
1925 Miami (Ohio)................... L, 33-0
1914 Miami (Ohio)................. L, 20-13
Three seniors and a junior have taken on the leadership role as team captains. The four, who were elected by their teammates, are offensive tackle Steve Eastlake (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson), defensive end Adam Roberts (Brooklyn, N.Y./Milford (Conn.) Academy), wide receiver Derick Ross (Marion, Ohio/Harding), all seniors, and junior tight end Brent Celek (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle).
Bearcats Earn BIG EAST Honors
Six Bearcats have earned BIG EAST weekly awards for their game performances this season.
Kevin McCullough was named Defensive Player of the Week following Cincinnati's win over Syracuse on Oct. 29. McCullough scooped up a fumble and returned it 17 yards for what proved to be the winning touchdown, and recorded five tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.
Chet Ervin earned Special Teams Player of the Week following the Syracuse win, in which he punted six times for a 46.0-yard average, twice pinning the Orange on their 1-yard line.
Dustin Grutza was named BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Week after passing for two touchdowns and running for a third in the Bearcats' 28-26 victory over Eastern Michigan in the season opener. The redshirt freshman from Maysville, Ky., completed 17 of 26 passes for 176 yards and ran for 49 yards, including a 21-yard TD.
Dominick Goodman earned BIG EAST Honor Roll recognition for catching a touchdown pass and completing a pass which set up another TD in the Nov. 19 game vs. USF.
Bill Poland was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll after his performance in the Nov. 19 game vs. USF, in which he established career highs with six receptions for 124 yards.
Dominic Ross was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll for his performance in the Bearcats' 7-3 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 17. Ross entered the game in the fourth quarter and made two key interceptions to stop WCU.
Adam Roberts was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll twice this season. He was recognized after posting three tackles for loss in the Oct. 29 win over Syracuse, and repeated honors with his 9-tackle, 2.5 TFL performance vs. USF on Nov. 19.
Mickens Tops in Pass Defense
First-year freshman cornerback Mike Mickens is ranked third nationally in passes defended. Mickens has 14 breakups and one interception in 10 games this season, giving him an average of 1.50 passes defended.
Mickens continues to add to his impressive resume as a first-year defensive back. The Greater Dayton area product (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne High) had four tackles and a pass breakup in the Nov. 19 loss at USF. He had three pass breakups in back-to-back games vs. Connecticut (Oct. 15) and Louisville (Oct. 22). His interception in the closing minutes of UC's win over Connecticut ended the Huskies final scoring threat and preserved the 28-17 victory. Mickens, who also had a career-high 11 tackles vs. Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 28, is sixth on the team in tackling with 51 stops.
Other Defensive Dandies
Junior linebacker Kevin McCullough is tied for No. 62 nationally in tackles for loss with 1.17.
Senior defensive end Adam Roberts is 64th nationally in tackles for loss (1.15) and 83rd in sacks (.50).
Sophomore linebacker Anthony Hoke is 27th nationally in forced fumbles, averaging .30.
Senior defensive end Adam Roberts played a large role in Cincinnati's last two victories. Roberts keyed UC's defensive dominance in the Bearcats' 28-17 win over Connecticut on Oct. 15 by recording five tackles, all solo, and had a pair of sacks and a pass breakup. In the 22-16 win over Syracuse on Oct. 29, Roberts had three TFLs among four tackles. With Syracuse 3rd-and-goal on the UC 2, Roberts threw Orange running back Damian Rhodes for an 8-yard loss to force Syracuse into a field goal in the third quarter. Roberts leads UC in TFLs with 11.0 and is tops on the team in sacks with 5.0.
Double Digit Tacklers
Kevin McCullough turned in the seventh double figure tackling performance by a Bearcat this season when he made 10 total tackles in Saturday's game vs. USF. McCullough has twice reached the double digit tackling total, having made 10 stops vs. Pittsburgh on Oct. 8.
Freshman Corey Smith set the team season high for tackles when he posted 13 stops vs. Western Carolina (Sept. 17). Classmate Mike Mickens had 11 tackles vs. Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 28.
By comparison, last year's team had five double digit tackling efforts.
Poland on the Prowl
Bill Poland has become Cincinnati's hottest receivers in recent games. The junior wide receiver, who had only one catch for 11 yards in UC's first six games, has 12 receptions for 177 yards and two TDs over the last four contests. Poland recorded career highs with six catches for 124 yards in last Saturday's game vs. USF, becoming the first UC receiver to top the century mark in receiving yards this season.
Corey's Season, But Not Honors Quest, Ends
Corey Smith had his first season as a Bearcat cut short by a shoulder injury, but the true freshman linebacker still hopes to remain in consideration for conference and national all-freshman honors. The 6-1, 215-pound outside linebacker was Cincinnati's leading tackler with 64 stops at the time his season was ended, and was third on the squad with 7.0 tackles for loss. Smith recorded 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops, vs. Western Carolina—a season high by a Bearcat defender. He is 10th in the BIG EAST Conference in tackles.
Glatthaar Would Like to Start Another Streak
Bradley Glatthaar has been known for scoring touchdowns in bunches. The sophomore running back tallied seven TDs in the Bearcats' first six games. Going back to the 2004 season, Glatthaar put together a streak in which he had scored a touchdown in 10 games over a 12-game stretch. Glatthaar has been held out of the endzone since, his last TDs—a pair of them—tallied in the Oct. 15 win over Connecticut.
Glatthaar turned in the second century rushing performance of his career when he gained a personal-best 123 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns in the Oct. 15 win over Connecticut. He scored on runs of 9 and 72 yards, the latter a career long.
Glatthaar became the first Bearcat to rush for over 100 yards this season when he recorded 107 yards in a career-high 18 rushing attempts in the Sept. 17 win over Western Carolina.
Good Efforts from Goodman
Freshman Dominick Goodman is finding numerous ways of contributing to the Bearcats. The Nov. 19 game vs. USF is the latest example of his versatility. Goodman caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Grutza in the second quarter, then in the fourth quarter threw a 32-yard pass off a lateral to Bill Poland which set up UC's second TD. Though he did not return a kick, Goodman, continues to lead the Bearcats with 348 kickoff return yards. His efforts as a receiver, return specialist and occasional rusher has put him second on the team in all-purpose yards, even though he has played in only eight of the 10 games. Goodman has amassed 529 all-purpose yards, 22 as a rusher, 159 as a receiver and 348 via kickoff returns.
Goodman was one of the bright spots for the Cincinnati offense in the Sept. 28 loss at Miami (Ohio), piling up 141 all-purpose yards, gaining 64 yards on five pass receptions and returning four kickoffs for 77 yards. Goodman snagged a 24-yard pass from Dustin Grutza in the second quarter, UC's longest pass play of the night. He then hooked up with Nick Davila four times for 50 yards on the Bearcats' final scoring drive, and scored when he made a leaping catch of a deflected pass on a four-yard TD.
Tight Ends are Top Targets
The Bearcat tight ends have been the big play performers in the Cincinnati passing attack to date. Junior starter Brent Celek is second on the team in receptions with 27 and third in receiving yardage with 307. Celek caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Grutza in the Oct. 8 game vs. Pittsburgh, the longest reception of Celek's career. Freshman backup Connor Barwin leads the team in yards per reception, averaging 19.9 yards per catch.
Celek Upping Numbers and Credentials
Brent Celek has eclipsed the numbers he piled up last season as a receiver from the tight end position. Celek, who is second on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards, has made 27 catches for 307 yards. A year ago, he amassed 22 receptions for 254 yards. The one statistical category in which he trails last year's pace is in touchdown receptions. In 2004, Celek set a UC record for TD catches by a tight end with eight. The junior has two this season.
Celek is compiling the third-best season by a Cincinnati tight end. Joe Koynock caught 44 passes for 496 yards in 1990, which stand as UC records for a tight end. Kris Bjorson had 40 receptions for 409 yards in 1991.
Ervin Tops Career Punting Marks
Senior Chet Ervin has become Cincinnati's all-time punting leader in career punts and punting yards. The senior moved into sole possession of the lead in career punting yards with 9,286, surpassing Shawn Burdick (9,244 in 1983-86) in last Saturday's game at USF. Ervin moved into a tie for career punts with Jeff Blaylock (1991-94), both with 236. Ervin is ranked fifth in attempts and eighth in punting yards among the NCAA national active career leaders.
Eastlake Builds on Streak
Steve Eastlake will try to extend a personal streak in Saturday's contest vs.Rutgers. The 6-6, 305-pound senior will be making his 35th consecutive start at left tackle, a position at which he has been a fixture since the beginning of the 2003 season. For a point of comparison, all other offensive linemen have a combined total of 41 games of starting experience.
Freshmen Lead Bearcat Defense
Cincinnati has the youngest defensive unit in the nation. The Bearcats have started six first-year freshmen, and as many as five at a time. Those true frosh starters are tackles Terrill Byrd and Thomas Claggett, end Trevor Anderson, outside linebacker Corey Smith, cornerback Mike Mickens and safety Cedric Tolbert. Northern Illinois, which has started up to four true frosh, is the only Division I-A team which comes close.
Byrd and Mickens have been starters all season, as was Smith before an injury sidelined him after nine games. Anderson has made seven starts and Claggett has had three starts. Tolbert started the Western Carolina game.
Those freshmen are holding their own. Despite missing a game, Smith leads the team in tackles (64) and is fourth in tackles for loss (7.0). Mickens is sixth in tackles (51) and leads the team in passes broken up (14). Claggett is second at UC in forced fumbles (2) and with 18 tackles is climbing that list. Byrd, who has likely logged the most playing time of the group, has 17 tackles and 5.0 TFLs.
Nakamura Gets Them By The Dozen
Sophomore Haruki Nakamura turned in his third 12-tackle performance of the season in the Nov. 9 West Virginia game. Nakamura, who had five solo stops, posted a sack and was credited with a quarterback hurry. The Bearcat free safety set a career high with 12 tackles in the Sept. 10 game at Penn State, and matched that total on Sept. 28 vs. Miami (Ohio). Nakamura leads the team in tackling with 71 total stops.
Dominic Ross Makes Key Plays
Junior Dominic Ross put together the two best performances of his college career during Cincinnati's games vs. Western Carolina and Miami. Ross, who did not start the Western Carolina game, replaced the injured Cedric Tolbert in the fourth quarter and made two interceptions, one on the 2-yard line to stop WCU's go-ahead scoring drive with 5:46 to play. His second pick, in the final minute, clinched the 7-3 victory. In UC's Sept. 28 contest at Miami (Ohio), Ross made a career-high 13 tackles, six of them solos, and had a tackle for loss.
Derick Ross Reaches Millennium Mark
Cincinnati senior wide receiver Derick Ross has topped the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yardage. The senior enters his final game game as a Bearcat with 1,067 yards on 77 career catches. He is the Bearcats' leading receiver this season with 32 receptions for 330 yards.
Pressuring the quarterback has been a key to Cincinnati's defensive success. The Bearcats have recorded 11 sacks in their past two victories over Connecticut and Syracuse. UC has made 15 sacks in its four victories.
UC notched six sacks in the Oct. 15 win over Connecticut, the most since UC had six vs. East Carolina last season (Sept. 25, 2004). Senior Adam Roberts and freshman Trevor Anderson each recorded two sacks, with Thomas Claggett and Anthony Hoke contributing one each. The Bearcats had five sacks, with linebacker Kevin McCullough leading the way with 1.5, in the Oct. 29 win over Syracuse.
Many Happy Returns
The Bearcats enjoyed one of their most productive games in terms of kickoff returns vs. Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 28.
Marshwan Gilyard nearly broke off a return for a touchdown. The first-year freshman was dragged down after a 60-yard return, the longest since Tedric Harwell took a kick back 71 yards vs. West Virginia in 2002. Gilyard is averaging a team-high 27.8 yards on five returns.
Dominick Goodman returned four kickoffs for a total of 77 yards, which featured a 27-yard return. Goodman is averaging 19.1 yards on 11 returns this season.
In the punt return department, Mike Daniels tied a UC single game record when he returned seven punts in the Sept. 17 game vs. Western Carolina. He compiled 47 yards on those seven returns.
Haruki Nakamura, who took over the punt return duties when Daniels was sidelined by injury, is averaging 9.3 yards on nine returns.
How Young Are Those Cats
Cincinnati began the season as one of the nation's youngest teams, in terms of returning starters, in terms of projected senior starters and in terms of lettermen on its two-deep chart. UC had starters returning at eight positions—tackle Steve Eastlake, tight end Brent Celek and fullback Doug Jones on offense; end Adam Roberts, cornerback Antoine Horton and Dominic Ross and JaJuan Hall, who shared the strong safety position on defense; along with punter Chet Ervin and kicker Kevin Lovell. Only two schools have fewer returning starters, Navy with six and Marshall with seven.
UC projected five senior starters on offense and defense, entering the 2005 season, second fewest to Rice which has three projected senior starters.
Young Bearcats See First Action
Over the first nine games, a total of 30 Bearcats have seen their first college game action. Ten are first-year freshmen and 12 others are redshirt freshmen. Nine of those frosh have been starters: true freshmen Trevor Anderson (Detroit, MI/Crockett Tech) at defensive end, Terrill Byrd (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain) and Thomas Claggett (Temple Hills, MD/Frederick Douglas), at defensive tackle, Corey Smith (Salem, NJ/Salem) at outside linebacker, Mike Mickens (Huber Heights, OH/Wayne) at cornerback, Cedric Tolbert (Xenia, OH/Xenia) at safety, and redshirt freshmen Dustin Grutza (Maysville, KY/Mason County) at quarterback, Trevor Canfield (Cincinnati, OH/Western Hills) at offensive guard, and Ryan Manalac (Pickerington, OH/Pickerington) at middle linebacker.
1st-Year Freshmen Redshirt Freshmen Upperclassmen
Trevor Anderson, DE Brad Bury, FB D'arrell Brown, DT
Connor Barwin, TE Trevor Canfield, OG Nick Davila, QB
Terrill Byrd, DT Khalil El-Amin, OT Derrik Haithcock, DE
Thomas Claggett, DT Dustin Grutza, QB Tyjuan Jones, LB
Marshwan Gilyard, CB Adam Hoppel, DT Leo Morgan, LB
Dominick Goodman, WR Kevin Huber, P J.P. Simon, OG
Mike Mickens, CB Ryan Manalac, LB Jon Tobin, OG
Patrick Mimms, DT Lamonte Nelms, DE David Wess, SS
Corey Smith, LB Carlos Simpson, WR Jamie Wimmer, DT
Cedric Tolbert, FS DeAngelo Smith, FS
K.L. Smith, CB
For only the second time in the past five seasons, Cincinnati will not be going to a postseason bowl. The Bearcats will begin preparations for the 2006 campaign in the ensuing weeks and months following Saturday's season-ending contest at Rutgers. The team's postseason awards banquet will be held on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall on the UC campus.