Bearcat Insider Talks to Coach Quinn

After Wednesday's practice, Bearcat Insider spoke with Cincinnati offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, Jeff Quinn.

The Bearcat offense is averaging 46.5 points a game, but despite the gaudy average, Coach Quinn knows the team needs to continue to work on the center/quarterback exchange since there were a few foul ups against Oregon State.  That can't happen again this week against Miami of Ohio.  "Those things are totally unacceptable," Quinn said.     "The first one was a high snap.  When you've got a lot on your mind, a player can lose focus on the mechanics of getting the ball to the quarterback.  From my standpoint, it's a matter of going back and addressing the mechanics so we can get the ball back to the quarterback in a consistent manner."


The battle at the center position has been between redshirt sophomore Chris Jurek and redshirt freshman Jason Kelce, but Jurek has gained the starting nod along with the bulk of playing time.  Even though there was a problem with some shotgun snaps last Thursday, Jurek is expected to remain as Quinn's starter at the position.  "Chris has certainly proven to be a guy we can rely upon.  He's been very consistent in his blocking although that one snap was mismanaged on his part.  The other one was a communication issue.  We're a fast paced, quick huddle team, and sometimes the center can get a bit anxious to get the ball out when the quarterback is actually changing the play.  Through the course of time, those things will eliminate themselves."


There were also some personnel changes on the offensive line last week.  One spot that saw a switch was right tackle where junior Khalil El-Amin started in place of sophomore Jeff Linkenbach.  Coach Quinn explained the status of the spot.  "Link was held back a little last week because of the ankle, but we don't have a 1 and a 2.  We have a 1A and a 1B at a lot of spots.  I think that's a healthy situation.  If Link's not ready to go, El-Amin is in.  With Link it's day to day with his ankle."  El-Amin was getting first team reps on Wednesday.


Senior Ken Rodriguez started both games at left guard for the Bearcats, but Thursday's game saw senior Chris Flores get the majority of snaps.  Quinn explained why.  "It's always nice to see a young man step in.  It's another of those 1A and 1B issues.  Both are seniors and have invested a lot of time in our program.  I've been blessed with a good group of guys.  We don't have a set five but rather seven or eight that can step in and help us win."  Quinn continued, "I felt there was some blocking that hurt our execution a little at that position so I made a change.  It's what I tell my guys, if I guy goes in and we start scoring, he's not coming out.  Chris gave us a boost.  This week is another battle."


Back-up true freshman left tackle Sam Griffin played against SEMO so he cannot redshirt at this point.  Sam did not see any game action against the Beavers last week, but Coach Guinn indicated that will probably be the exception and not the rule.  "Sam has played and will continue to play, but we had Digger and El-Amin in there, and we were moving the ball.  Sometimes I'm reluctant to make changes if the guys out there are doing the job.  That's why he didn't get in last week."


The offensive linemen must communicate among themselves, and Saturday will be their first game away from the friendly crowds of Nippert Stadium.  Coach Quinn feels their communication system is ready to be tested.  "If the crowd noise is loud, we have a system in place to handle that situation without any problems.  We have the ability to communicate with the quarterback or in a silent snap."


Even though it's Miami week, the goal for Coach Quinn is always the same.  "The goal is always executing what you call.  The yardage isn't that important, but you want to be efficient.  If it's third and one and you get two yards, that's an efficient play.  The most important thing is scoring points, but you always want 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing.  Normally, that'll be a good day, but I've seen teams have over 500 or even 600 yards of offense and lose the game.  The goal is always to get the ball into the endzone, and keep them out of the endzone."


The Bearcat offense has been the beneficiary of thirteen turnovers in two games while committing only four of their own for a +9 rating.  Coach Quinn knows his offense's success is closely tied to holding onto the football.  "Let's face it.  If you take care of the football and can make some big plays, you're going to win football games.  We take a great deal of pride in not turning the ball over, and that's got to continue."


If the Bearcats continue to take care of the football on Saturday in Oxford, expect to hear the Victory Bell ringing all the way back to Cincinnati's campus.


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