Since January of 2005 people have come to expect an honest opinion from BearcatInsider.com when it comes to UC Football. I've been telling many the Bearcats have been doing a better job recruiting and that these players were capable of winning a Big East title. But Saturday was a major setback on and off the field and here is why things have to change this week or the Bearcats could find themselves out of the hunt for a Big East title game and possible BCS Game.
OFF THE FIELD
Fan support is a major factor in the current and future success of University of Cincinnati football. The lack of support over the course of many years has placed the football program behind the 8-ball as compared to the teams many expect them to battle on a weekly basis. It's not just practice fields, indoor facilities or stadium expansions were talking about. Butts in the seats of Nippert Stadium are a major factor in the perception of the program by recruits and the coaching staff.
Since the Bearcats win against Rutgers in 2006 and the buzz created by the media savoy Brian Kelly the Bearcats have slowly built a bigger fan base in a city that lacks a team they know can compete and win. The Reds and Bengals are a long way off from the look of things but the Bearcats have been the one thing to show continued improvement for a city looking for a winner.
Those who watched the game at home, traveled to a local sports bar, or made the trip to the East Coast to catch the game will all agree this was not what any Bearcat fan expected. Not from this team or this staff. Can Bearcat fans accept this loss? Yes! But to lose in the fashion the Bearcats did on Saturday left many fans questioning just what is going on.
Since being named the head coach of the Bearcats, Brian Kelly has talked about how fans can expect a high powered explosive and innovated offense. Until the past two weeks Kelly and the Bearcats have delivered. But Saturday someone forgot to turn on the power source as the Bearcats sputtered failing for a second game to convert any 3-rd down conversions. Heading into South Florida the Bearcats are 0-25 in this category in the past two games.
But Bearcat fans have just started to come around. While we know many of the die hard fans since the site started, we must keep in mind many new fans have jumped on the Bearcats bandwagon looking for a winner. Saturday they didn't see a team that resembled the one many of us expected.
On The Field
Don't get me wrong. Brian Kelly has done a great job considering he lost two starting quarterbacks in the first four games of the season. But with Tony Pike back much more was expected.
The coaching staff makes the play calls but the players are expected to perform and make the play. On Saturday there were way too many missed assignments in all areas of the game. I can say having been to practice every fine detail was covered and the staff stressed the importance of winning this game.
But the way the Bearcats played on Saturday would cost any team a game even against a lesser opponent. As fans saw there were many reasons the Bearcats lost a game that could have set them up as a team to beat in the Big East.
A victory Saturday would have the Bearcats sitting at 2-0 in the conference with a great chance of getting a third victory on what looks like a possible chilly night in Nippert Stadium for a team that struggles in the cold.
As many of you know I've always been pro-player and coaches since this site started and don't want to change the way I see things now. But I would be lying if I didn't have a few questions about what happened Saturday.
After watching hours of practice how can some of the best players on the team look to bring down one of the best running backs in the country by tackling his shoulder pads?
When did Tony Pike tell the Cincinnati medical staff he was having problems? Tony is a tough player but if he was having problems that saw him start to struggle he should have taken himself out sooner.
When will the penalties start going away?
With pressure on the quarterbacks all day the Bearcats were forced into having ten 3-rd and long plays on offense. But just looking at the following stats say a lot about the game. Compare UC to Uconn and you'll see a lack of balance on offense. The Bearcats ran the ball only 22% of the time while Connecticut ran it just under 45% of the time.
And how can a veteran wide receiver get a case of “Gator Arms” at this point of the season and this part of his career?
Should fans run away? No!
The Big East has always been a conference that a team with one or two losses can finish in the top spot. But Connecticut was a game the Bearcats should have won pushing the Huskies to the back of the pack. And while it would be easy to accept a loss in a tight game things on Saturday looked far from a team you'd feel confident with talking about running the table or winning the conference.
I will say this... Brian Kelly is sure to have the troops working hard the next couple of days as there is no time to think about what is now in the past. Don't be surprised if there are a few changes as Kelly is always one telling his players if they can't get the job done he'll find someone that will. But if the Bearcats struggle on Thursday night even more questions will be rasied.