The loss to Louisville was a hard pill to swallow but I was able to get over that rather quickly with the hopes that the Cats would rebound and take it to Pittsburgh the next week and go into the bye week feeling good at 7-1 and preparing for the showdown with South Florida on November 3rd.
But life has dealt us all a bad hand of cards as Pittsburgh handed UC a 24-17 defeat. Before I wrote this article I had to really gather my thoughts and emotions. Losing to a last place team in the Big East was one thing but how it happened was another. The Cats were doing some of the same things that loss the game against Louisville. Crucial fumbles, numerous false start penalties and crucial 3rd down conversions were not completed.
But the Cats were also doing some very puzzling things as well, many missed tackles, blown assignments, late hit penalties that weren't even questionable, and the killer was UC gave up over 200 yards rushing.
At that point, I realized that somehow I had slipped into a time warp and I was back watching those horrible UC teams I played for in 1990, 91, and 92. We couldn't stop anyone from rushing for over 200 yards per game, the sprint draw was everyone's favorite play, we got late hit penalties constantly, we missed plenty of tackles and our safeties not our linebackers led the team in tackles.
Watching that game Leshaun McCoy looked like Tony Dorsett in the 70's, weaving and spinning through the UC defense as if they weren't there and it looked as if Pittsburgh was the ranked team not UC. I for one was glad that game happened two weeks ago and we can get back to business.
So what have we learned about this team?
Well for one, UC obviously couldn't handle the pressure that they were under nationally and internally. When you are ranked, there is an invisible bulls eye on your back. Everyone will play their best game against you no matter what their record. It will make their season to spoil yours and to win the Big East.
Wins against the bottom are just as important as wins against the top. In the future, UC has to learn how to maintain that intensity every week if they want to be one of the upper echelon teams. Two, I'm kind of puzzled that with the amount of veteran leadership UC has, it should have been able to bring the Cats through adversity in the Pitt game.
Coaches cannot police the team at all times so it is the job of the upperclassmen to enforce the mentality and morale of the squad. Players listen to other players more than coaches because the players are going through the physical part not the coaches.
Third, this team is talented enough to win the conference. We have seen flashes of brilliance from this UC team and if they can just get a sustained effort, they can accomplish their goals. Will the Cats bounce back? We shall see, USF is no easy game especially in hot and humid Tampa this time of year. By the way, for all those people outside of UC fans who thought that the Oregon State win was a fluke and that OSU wasn't good, think again. They are in the hunt for the Pac-10 title, they may not win it but they are going to make it hard for whoever does the rest of the way. I for one told everyone that OSU is a good team and that UC just made them look pretty bad, guess I can say "I told you so".
The goal is down to four games left in the regular season. If UC wins out, it will finish 10-2 with a chance at winning the conference depending on what UL and UConn does the rest of the way. They hold the tiebreaker against Rutgers, and if they win out, they would also hold it over USF, West Virginia, and Connecticut. The only thing that would stand in the way is that UConn has to lose two games which is possible considering their schedule doesn't get easier. One more loss, the conference title is out and UC is just playing for bowl placement but let's stay positive. Anything less than thinking that the Cats will run the table would be uncivilized!
Let's go Cats! Let's Beat South Florida!!!!
What Have We Discovered About The Cats?
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