The scoreboard showed the Bearcats had dropped their seventh game of the 2005 as Coach Dantonio walked off the turf in Piscataway, N.J. 44-9. Embarrassed by his team's performance, the Bearcats Head Coach keep his comments short and to the point. But what can Bearcat fans take from Coach Dantonio's comments? How about the players who return during winter workouts and spring ball better be ready? The performance the team displayed against Rutgers will not be tolerated in the future by this head coach or his staff.
After entering the Big East from Conference USA, the Bearcats were not expected to compete let alone win a Big East game when the media gathered back in August. But Saturday could allow the Bearcats to make a statement and win a fifth game and beat a team already looking towards their bowl game.
But while Bearcat fans held out hope, the Scarlet Knights wasted little time in showing this season is no fluke. Having been at the bottom of the Big East for many years, the Knights have shaken off the poor play and missed victories of yesteryear and seen the rebirth of a program whose history is deeper than any in college football.
But with bowl representatives on hand, (Insight Bowl) the Knights would take a 10-0 advantage in the first quarter and never look back. Mistakes and the lack of protection proved costly for the Bearcats on this day. And while there are many questions to be asked as the thoughts and expectations of Camp Higher Ground get buried under the snow flakes of the upcoming winter, there is still hope for the future for a team so young.
But what went wrong today? That is the question being asked by many following such a poor showing. While Coach Dantonio will fall on the sword, (as any great leader would) it's the players who take the field that need to look harder in the mirror between now and the start of the 2006 season. Forever more this group of players must never forget the feeling of ending a season on such a bad note.
While we could breakdown all aspects of this loss, it would be pointless. The Bearcats were terrible on this day and no phase of the game should be accepted.
As many have heard during the course of the past four months this team is young. While coaches don't stress this aspect after 4 or 5 games, it's still a fact and one that can't be ignored. Today this team looked younger then at anytime this season. Did the loss of Mike Mickens, Doug Jones, Greg Moore and a few others create this problem? Maybe! But to compete in the Big East depth must prevail in the long run.
Just look at the numbers on the final stat sheet and you can see many things didn't go well.
Leading Tackler: David Wess
2nd Leading Tackler: Dominic Ross
Rushing Yards: -23
Dustin Grutza sacked: 9 times
4th Qt Time of Possession: 2:38
3rd Down Conversions: 2 of 12
Rutgers 3rd down Conversions: 9 of 14
Total Offensive Yards: UC-146 / RU-574
Just looking at these few stats give you the idea of how short the Bearcats came up today. The leading tacklers were both out of the defensive backfield and the offense never got on track.
But while 2005 didn't go as planned, 2006 is just around the corner and the Bearcats coaching staff will work to recruit players that will fit the system and style of play needed to compete in the Big East. Having spent the amount of time around this team and staff, I'm sure things will get turned around and headed in the right direction.
But while 2005 could be considered a total loss, you have to look at the many positive things to come out of it. Here are a few of the things this program learned this year that will help them in the years to come.
Corey Smith will become an All-Big East player before he leaved the UC campus. This kid is a major player and only injury slowed him down this year. Keep in mind he's got three more seasons to play.
Mike Mickens is another true freshman who will earn All-Big East before his playing days are over. While I've watched "Mick" since his high school days, I never expected him to have the type of freshman year he had.
Both of these young men played big roles in the Bearcats success from this season. But also remember these two weren't the only "True Freshmen" to take the field this season.
Keep in mind, I've told many people that Big East football is very hard. The teams that make up this conference will beat the crap out of each other just like teams in the Big Ten do. UC came into this season with a big minus in terms of veteran players. If the Bearcats from 2004 would have played this schedule the results would have been different.
While I felt this team had a chance to earn a bowl berth, I also knew the going would be tough. The lack of seniors or even juniors with playing experience was very low. Stay with Bearcat Insider as we start next week with our breakdown of the Bearcats football program. All phases will be looked at just like the coaches will do this winter. You will also want to look at becoming a member so you can learn all about the players who will sign on National Letter of Intent Day come February.