Opponent Preview - Cincinnati Bearcats

When Mark Dantonio left Cincinnati for his home at Michigan State, the Bearcats went again to the state of Michigan connection to get their man Brian Kelly from Central Michigan University. That is bad news for fullbacks and good news for wide receivers. Once Cincinnati settles on a quarterback, the ball will spend a lot more time in the air this year.

Cincinnati Bearcats
Big East

2006 Record: (8-5, 4-3)
Coach: Brian Kelly (1st year at Cincinnati, 138-51-2 overall)
 

Starters Returning: 14 (7 offense, 7 defense, 0 specialists)

Offensive Starters Lost: WR Bill Poland, TE Brent Celek, OL Frank Straub, OL Jeff Reinstatler

Offensive Starters Returning: QB Dustni Grutza, RB Greg Moore, FB Doug Jones, WR Dominick Goodman, OL Digger Bujnoch, OL Trevor Canfield, OL Jeff Linkenbach

Defensive Starters Lost: DE Trevor Anderson, LB Kevin McCullough, CB John Bowie, S Dominic Ross

Defensive Starters Returning: DT Terrill Byrd, DT Adam Hoppel, DE Anthony Hoke, LB Leo Morgan, LB Corey Smith, CB Mike Mickens, S Haruki Nakmura

Starting Specialists Lost: K Kevin Lovell, P Brian Steel

Starting Specialists Returning: None

 

For starters: When Mark Dantonio left Cincinnati for his home at Michigan State, the Bearcats went again to the state of Michigan connection to get their man Brian Kelly from Central Michigan University. That is bad news for fullbacks and good news for wide receivers. Once Cincinnati settles on a quarterback, the ball will spend a lot more time in the air this year.

 

Offense:  Dustin Grutza is the retuning signal caller, but was anything but effective and consistent. The 6-2 junior performed well during the spring, but he will find some competition from Ben Mauk, a transfer from Wake Forest, in the fall. Whoever fits better into the spread scheme should be the starter, but at the least the Bearcats have a couple of experienced quarterbacks to choose from. And with a talented group of receivers, both quarterbacks have the potential to succeed in the new offense. Dominick Goodman led the team in receptions and is a legitimate all-conference player. Earnest Jackson and Jared Maritn have some experience, but will be asked to drastically increase their production, especially with the ineligibility of expected returning receiver Derrick Stewart. Doug Jones will move from his starting fullback position to tight end, since the word fullback will only be uttered in Cincinnati on fourth and goal from one. Jones is a solid receiver and will join Connor Barwin, if healthy, at the tight end position.

The Bearcats will throw a little more than last year, but that does not mean they will still not depend on a trio of quality rushers. With Greg Moore, Butler Benton and Bradley Glatthaar, Coach Kelly has a nice mix of backs to choose from. Moore was the featured back last year, rushing for 709 yards and four touchdowns, but anybody could excel in the spread look. With the return of three starting linemen, most notably Trevor Canfield and Jeff Linkenback, and a deep group of experienced players who spent last year coming off the bench, the line will be a strength for the offense.

 

Defense:  The Bearcats finished 25th in the nation in rushing defense and much of the front seven returns. Tackle Terrill Byrd could be the best in the conference and with Adam Hoppel and Anthony Hoke joining him on the line, nobody will have much of a successful rushing attack against Cincinnati. Trevor Anderson, a would-be junior who tallied six sacks in 2006, has opted to transfer leaving the only hole up front. The big loss on defense is Kevin McCullough. The linebacker led the team in tackles and tackles for loss, but returning starters Leo Morgan and Corey Smith have enough talent to replace the production.

The secondary has a big replacement of its own. Strong safety Dominic Ross topped the team with four interceptions and was a big part of the successful run stopping defense last season. Hard hitting free safety Haruki Nakamura is the leading returning tackler and will be the new leader of the unit. At the corners Cincinnati has one of the best in the Big East in two-time all-conference honoree Mike Mickens. The other corner will have a new starter, but DeAngelo Smith has plenty of experience as the primary backup in 2006.

 

The Bottom Line:  With a little offense, the Bearcats can stick around with the big boys of the Big East. But picking up the spread system in one year is asking a little too much. Still, there is a slew of playmakers on offense and as long as somebody can get them the ball, the offense will move the chains. There are some big losses on the defensive side of the ball, especially the unexpected loss of Anderson, but the frontline has enough depth make his absence matter less than it initially appears.

 

Schedule:

08/30SE Missouri State
09/06Oregon State
09/15at Miami (OH)
09/22Marshall
09/29at SDSU
10/06at Rutgers
10/13Louisville
10/20at Pittsburgh
11/03at South Florida
11/10UConn
11/17West Virginia
11/24at Syracuse

 

Links: GoBearcats.com (official) | BearCatInsider.comBearCatNews.com | Message Board | BigEast.org

Media: Cinncinnatti Enquirer | Cinncinatti.com Blog | Cincinnati Post

 


DT Terrill Byrd is a big reason why the Bearcats finished 25th in the nation against the rush.


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