Here are the many thoughts from the Insider from the 47-45 victory.
For the first time in the five years of covering the Bearcats the crowd got into their seats in time to enjoy pregame. This made a serious impression on several of the recruits taking in the game as they took notice. It also made for good television as the stadium looked as advertised "Sold Out" and a major football venue.
The crowd noise for the early part of the game was the loudest I've heard since covering the team in the 2005 season. No other game has been as loud and I fully expect it to be even louder Friday night when West Virginia comes to town in the next big test for the undefeated Bearcats.
ZACH COLLAROS & GREG COOK
In the third quarter some of the media thought Zach Collaros had to be getting close to the all-time single game passing yards mark. Then word came that former Bearcats great Greg Cook held the mark with 554-yards. In the end Collaros was 107 yards short of the mark and made many ask just how good Cook was.
TONY PIKE & ZACH COLLAROS
Many are pushing that Zach should remain the starter when Tony Pike is back fully healthy. While Zach has enjoyed a magical run, Pike had the team running at a high pace as well and should come back as the starter unless there is more to his injury then what is being let on. Tony Pike has beaten West Virginia and Pittsburgh and will not feel the pressure that Zach may in the two remaining Big East battles ahead. But I do fully expect Brian Kelly will find a way to use Zach in the offensive game plan.
HOW MANY PLAYS?
There were a total of 143 offensive plays between the two teams and in the game and 1,173 yards of total offense. The 711 yards of offense for the Bearcats is a new school record beating the previous record set in 1968 (684 yards) against Ohio. The mark is now second all-time in Big East history behind the 729 yards set by Louisville against Middle Tennessee in 2007.
WHAT HAPPEN TO SPECIAL TEAMS?
The biggest change in special teams play was the loss of Collin McCafferty early in the game. McCafferty went down and we didn't see him again and the rest is history on what may be the worst special team's performance in the Brian Kelly era.
Scout.com 3-star prospect Tejay Johnson (Egg Harbor Township, NJ) was on his official visit this weekend and was seen enjoying the big-time game atmosphere and the Bearcats offense. He also got a chance to meet with a couple of verbal commitments before and after the game. While listed as a cornerback by Scout, it's believed the Bearcats staff sees Tejay as the next Mardy Gilyard in their offensive scheme. It's believed that Johnson and Dyjuan Lewis are the two targets for the last scholarship for a wide receiver the Bearcats staff wants in this class and that Matt James would be icing on the cake in the recruiting class.
I hate to say this but something must be done with a few of the field ushers at the games. One of the biggest fears for fans is the loss of Brian Kelly and his staff to another program, while one Bearcat usher seems to enjoy giving wives of the coaches a hard time while getting on the field after the game. On Saturday night one of the coaches' wives was grabbed by said usher trying to make sure she couldn't get on the field while she had a UC official working to get her on the field to see her husband. This is not the first time we've witnessed such behavior as it's even been done to prospects and their families. But physically grabbing one of the coaches' wives to get your point across really crosses the line. In this game of keeping a top-notch coach UC must get a hold of and make ushers understand they play just as big a part of the Nippert Stadium experience.
BLACK VS. SHEPHERD PART TWO
One night after Jibreel Black and Clint Shepherd battled each other on the field, each was seen hanging out and praising how good each other played. Bearcat Insider was on hand for the game and will have more on these two future Bearcats battle that saw Jibreel and his Wyoming teammates advance to the next round of the playoffs.
WHERE IS THE DEFENSE
While the Bearcats offense was full speed ahead, the defense found the fourth quarter to be one to forget. While the pundits will be sure to make good use of this performance they also haven't been watching the Bearcats the whole season. I can almost guarantee that any goal the defense set for the game was not achieved. This may have been one of the worst defensive performances since Brian Kelly took over the reigns but it also might serve to help Kelly and his staff to bring home the point that the target on the Bearcats back keeps getting bigger as the team gets ready to battle their three hardest test. The next three games bring teams that like to run the football and the Bearcats better be ready.
DEFENSE DIDN'T MATCH UP
So what made for such a difference in the defenses performance against UConn? Match-up in Brian Kelly's system are key and the Bearcats defensive front seven just doesn't match-up with the Huskies offensive front. Across the Huskies front line you have 324, 333, 288, 315, and 323 pounds who do a great job of run blocking and getting their pad level low. This is an old-style offensive line from the older days of the Big East and something Randy Edsall takes pride in.
WHO NEEDS A 1,000 YARD RUSHER?
Not the Bearcats, while many feel Isaiah Pead will become on in the near future, this year looks like another year without one. But if you look at the rushing output of senior Jacob Ramsey and Pead combined you see the Bearcats already have one. After nine games the duo has combined for 984 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. The more impressive part in the numbers is they average over 6 yards per carry. CINCINNATI = WIDE RECEIVER "U" & QUARTERBACK "U"
Schools are often given a label as linebacker U or running back U, could UC be Wide Receiver U and Quarterback U? Look at the numbers and ask yourself. If you were a quarterback or a wide receiver would you want to play at UC?
The numbers after nine games.
QB: 9 Games – QB Effic: 171.83, Comp-att-int: 211-309-4, Pct: 68.3, Yards: 2922, TD: 25, Avg/G: 324.7
WR: The Bearcats have 8 players with double-digit receptions. Both Jacob Ramsey and Isaiah Pead have combined for 30 catches while the six receivers/tight ends have the following numbers.
Catches: 165, Yards: 2,371, TD: 19
LET THE TALK START
There is no sense hiding from what is going to start to be a subject for the next few weeks. Brian Kelly to Notre Dame is going to pick up some steam with the Irish dropping their game Saturday to Navy. While Kelly will be a name talked about until all jobs are full, Bearcat fans need to know they will play a huge role in the Bearcats successful coach staying in Cincinnati. Sold out games, support for the new practice facilities and future work to expand Nippert Stadium are all things Kelly is looking at when it comes to where he'll be coaching in the future. So keep the talk low and hope that Kelly and his family have found a home for the long run.
OVERALL A WIN IS A WIN
Make no mistake a win is a win and Brian Kelly and his staff know when your working towards a perfect season you're going to have a game where things don't go the way you wanted them. Overall the Bearcats did a great job for 3 quarters only to see the final quarter be the worst of the year. Kelly and his staff will use this to keep the team focused and get them back on track for the final three games. So sit back and enjoy the ride of the next two home games and then make sure you travel to Pittsburgh in the final week of the season to cheer on a Big East Champion for the second year in a row.