With limited access to spring practice for the media this spring Brian Kelly and his defending Big East Champions have been hard at work getting ready to wrap up the spring session and look towards defending their conference title and make a return trip to a Bowl Championship Game.
But with so many losses can Bearcat fans expect their team to really compete for their second title in as many years? Yes! The taks won't be an easy one but this team is better than many will expect and again could be a surprise to those who don't pay attention to what Kelly is doing in the
OFFENSE = FIREPOWER
There is no shortage of weapons at the disposal of Brian Kelly and it starts with Tony Pike at quarterback. Pike has grown and despite his teammates jokes about him having tenure at the university or about him drawing retirement the wait has been a good one for Pike and Bearcat fans.
Pike will be backed up by Chazz Anderson who continues to learn the offense and has taken a hold of the second spot by a commanding lead. Zach Collaros held off the push from the remaining quarterbacks and will enter fall camp as the number three signal caller.
One change is Travis Kelce looks to be headed to the tight end position after he suffered another injury to his foot this spring. This leaves Brendon Kay and Demetrius Richardson as the other quarterbacks.
Make no mistake the Bearcats will and should be a team that can light up a scoreboard with anyone in the country. While it's still unknown what the status of USC transfer Vidal Hazelton will be, sources feel he's got a chance to be eligible this fall after the NCAA received information from his former school.
With or without Hazelton the Bearcats have a lot of skill weapons at wide receiver and also have great depth at running back as Darrin Williams and Scott Johnson have both taken great strides this spring pushing Jacob Ramsey, John Goebel and Isaiah Pead.
With the addition of Kelce as a tight end the Bearcats know what they've got going into camp is very solid. Kazeem Alli and Ben Guidugli are both very good and as many know Adrien Robinson has all the talent in the world.
The offensive line continues to get better and will be the main question mark going into the season for the offense. Jeff Linkenbach is showing the skills to be a member of next years NFL Draft class and young players like Alex Hoffman have shown their ability as well. A two-deep is coming together and by the time camp opens in August fans should see several battles take place.
SENIORS COULD LEAD THE WAY ON DEFENSE
Much has been said about the loss of ten seniors from last year's squad. But the Bearcats have several seniors on this years team that have playing experience and have been fighting their way to the top over the past couple of years.
Marcus Waugh, Andre Revels, Brad Jones, Curtis Young, Craig Carey, Ricardo Mathews, Alex Daniels and Aaron Webster have all shown what they can do this spring and each could be called upon to be a starter.
Waugh may be the biggest surprise of the spring on defense as he is showing his love to bang heads in his final spring as a Bearcat.
With Revels missing the spring many would question if he's fallen behind but the former Colerain product is a student of the game and is helping Waugh and sophomore J.K. Schafer learn the new 3-4 scheme.
If you felt the Bearcats defense couldn't get any better than the past couple of years you may be surprised as this defense is even faster that last years group.
The returning player who has made the biggest leap is Camerron Cheatham. The
Another player who is really surprising many is Demetrius Jones and his play at linebacker.
During Saturday's scrimmage the defense made sure the offense knew they were ready to attack on every play and showed their depth with the play of Dan Giordano who made several key plays.
The Bearcats look different in Bob Diaco's 3-4 scheme and the players have taken well to his high energy style this spring. Many may be surprised by how well this group plays next Saturday.
If you have the chance to come out to Nippert next Saturday to watch the Big East Champions you better be ready to be surprised. While no one is ready to say the Bearcats will match their win total of a year ago, to say they have the talent to be Big East Champions is not a stretch.