Second, the Cats looked very sharp in situational drills. One thing that Coach Jones does is that he seems to pay attention to every detail. Music was playing the entire practice, no doubt that he is trying to get his team to focus in hostile environments during the season regardless of the situation. The scrimmage wasn't long and they did not go the entire scrimmage in a pure game scenario. I like that from some coaches because the ones that win know that the key is to get work done while keeping your players fresh.
Lastly, there are alot of new faces on the defense. That is not a bad thing but a lot of these guys have waited for their opportunity so let's hope that they take advantage of that this season. The switch to the 4-3 is going to be good because you don't have to do too much thinking when you are in attack mode. When you have too much to think about, it takes away from being aggressive. Stopping the run will be the key to the defensive success this season.
Now to the upcoming opponent, Fresno State. Okay, we know this team pretty good after our matchup with them last season. If you remember, BK took away the pass in order to protect Marcus Barnett playing CB which left us vulnerable to the run and Fresno took full advantage. They dominated T.O.P and Ryan Mathews shredded the defense up almost pulling off the upset.
The good news for this year is that Mathews is playing for the Chargers and there is no hope that he is going to show up to run the ball for the Bulldogs this year. I still think this will be a tough game for the Bearcats. Fresno returns a lot of their offense from last year including QB Ryan Colburn so this will still be an exciting offense that can score. Offense is not the concern for them, defense is. The defense was a major disappointment to them last season and if they are going to be good, the defense will hold the key.
So here is a great matchup between two good offenses that can score and two defenses that have something to prove. Hopefully it will be UC's defense that is able to shut down the Fresno attack.
UC does have a couple of advantages in this game. Even though Fresno is at home, UC has been a very good road team the last three years and they also have won three road games traveling to the west coast beating Hawaii, San Diego State and last season, Oregon State.
The second advantage UC has is that Fresno doesn't know exactly what the Cats are going to do. On offense, Butch Jones runs a different offense from BK. While similar, they are different in plays, variations, formations and tempo. The only thing that Fresno's staff can do is watch Central Michigan games from last year in order to look at something. On defense, with the switch back to the 4-3 Fresno can't use the same attack on offense they used last season against the Cats. Not knowing what the tendencies are of the defense can drive an offensive coordinator crazy because trying to game plan is going to be hard. In-game adjustments are going to be very important in this one.
In the end, I think that UC's offense with Zach Collaros at the helm will be too much for Fresno to handle. The defense will be able to stop the run and will force Fresno to throw it more than they want to and force mistakes. Should be a good test and game for the Cats but they will go to 1-0 winning this one 28-14.