Bearcats Defense Rings Bells

No one has been too worried about what the University of Cincinnati has to offer on the offensive side of the football in 2009. But Saturdays showing by the teams defense in the annual family scrimmage opened a lot of eyes.

Camp Higher Ground became Camp Family Ground on Saturday as many of the parents, brothers, sisters and other family and friends of the Bearcats made the trek to West Harrison, Indiana for the teams annual family get together and scrimmage.

In years past this scrimmage has been proven to leave many asking questions about one side of the ball or the other. This year will be no different as those in attendance must be scratching their heads asking where the Bearcats offense went.

The stage was set early as the defense forced a turnover with a fumble. More was to come as tipped balls from receivers fell into the hands of defenders with some going for big returns and even scores.

But what left the most impression was the speed and willingness of the hitting by the defense on the day.

Name the Bearcats defender and there is a very good chance he laid a lick on someone before the day was over.

While Kelly was quick to give some praise to his defense he also let it be known the offensive side of the ball better get back to the basics and play the way they are capable of playing.

Not only did the offensive line have problems opening up holes for the running game, but it also struggled to give protection off the right side on the edge. The next week will be full of players fighting for jobs and Bearcat Insider feels only three spots on the line are safe after today.

But the defense came ready to hit and pay like it was opening week against Rutgers. Just ask those on the offense who got decleated on the day or got their bell rung how good their teammates on the defensive side of the ball were on the day.

While the hits brought some noise from family members watching; it left Coach Kelly making sure his defense understood they were taking out their own teammates and he wasn't going to stand for it.

Two hits that really stood out even made some worry. Wesley Richardson laid a lick on Mardy Gilyard that left the senior receiver on his knees and shacking out the cobwebs. But biggest hit of the day and maybe of any practice ever held at Higher Ground found Curtis Young taking it to offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach on an interception.

Camerron Cheatham picked off a pass and look to take it to the house for a score. Just as Cheatham hit the corner Linkenbach made the turn to pursue only to find Young coming full speed making a textbook hit that lifted the Bearcats offensive lineman into the air and right down to the ground.

But veterans weren't the only ones looking to lay the wood to the offense. Freshman Romel Dismuke laid a lick to Adrien Robinson that left the Bearcats tight end with some body aches.

Speed was the name of the game for the Bearcats defense as they showed an intense desire to make every play on the day. Shifting players in and out the Bearcats defensive staff kept the defense strong and there was no shortage of players making plays.

Screen plays were snuffed out with very little gain. The running game was kept in check and pass plays were few and far between.

Brian Kelly made sure players knew he wasn't happy after practice with a long speech in one endzone.

So should Bearcat fans panic at the thought of an offensive meltdown? No!

The Bearcats defense has some advantage as they've only seen their offense in practice the past week and a half. Work is needed and positions need to be decided this coming week before the team heads back to campus and prepares for Week One and Big East rival Rutgers on the road.

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