The Cincinnati Bearcats sit at 6-2 after they dispatched of the Syracuse Orange like a rotting pumpkin the weekend after Halloween. I really wish I thought of that on Saturday instead of Monday. It seems it would have been better then. It would have been better than the pun headline I came up with and now subsequently don't like. What I did like was the 35-24 victory for the Bearcats over Syracuse. Let's start talking about it.
Butch Jones made the move to Brandon Kay on Saturday. He said today that he won't announce a QB for the Temple game until this coming Saturday. I don't like that. I had a little debate with Chris from Bearcats Nation about this on twitter. His point is that you can keep Temple in the dark all week and give yourself a competitive advantage. I absolutely see where he is coming from. If this was Rutgers coming up, I would agree. It's not Rutgers. It is Temple. They are one of the 3 worst teams in the league. They have lost each of the last 3 games by more than 20 points. I see it like it's not announcing a QB before the Miami game. You are playing Miami, what does it matter? You should kick their ass. Upping the percentage of winning from 75% to 78% isn't that big. The QB question will follow the team all week. The last time a QB question followed the team all week, the QB didn't play well. *coughI'mBetterThanTeddyBridgewatercough* I think you just name Brendon Kay the starter and get on with it. I don't think you can make a move like this without keeping Kay the starter. That's a discussion for another day.
Let's start the actual game talk with the Big East Offensive Player of the Week George Winn. 30 carries for 165 yards and 3 TDs. Career highs in every category. George Winn was thought of to be a bruiser type of back. But he is much more than that. He's run for 290 yards the last 2 weeks. Temple is very bad at defense. Winn could hit 3 straight 100 yard rushing games. He's been under 75 yards 0 times this season. Such a revelation. I end up saying that about him every week, but that doesn't change the fact that he's been such a revelation. He's the MVP of the offense. No matter who starts at QB this week, Winn will be the backbone of the offense.
The Winn jump pass TD was gorgeous. What a play call. Great execution.
There was a lot of talking of getting Ralph David Abernathy IV the ball more. He got 10 touches, which was right on his season average. I'm a fan of his. A big fan. But this needs to be said. If he's not getting a huge gain, he has not been that great a running back. Look at his game log
- Pitt – 20 yards – 5 carries, long of 13
- DSU 0 52 yards – 7 carries, long of 23
- Va Tech – -3 yards – 3 carries, long of 1
- Miami – 27 yards – 8 carries, long of 17
- Fordham – 51 yards -5 carries, long of 36
- Toledo – 98 yards, 9 carries – long of 52
- Louisville – 39 yards, 10 carries – long of 14
- Syracuse – 17 yards, 6 carries – long of 15
171 of his 301 yards are off 8 carries. That leaves 2.9 yards a carry for the 45 carries. I don't know if it's the plays, he runs a lot of sweeps, or what. But if he's not going deep, he's getting nothing.
I liked seeing RDA IV get the ball as a receiver. He had 4 catches for 30 yards. Getting him the ball in space and letting him make plays works out for him. There were a couple of passes towards him that Munchie couldn't connect with him on, so the potential for RDA as a receiver could have been more.
Speaking of the receivers, welcome to 2012 Anthony McClung! 5 catches for 75 yards. He had a 35 yard reception. McClung has had some injury trouble this year but he was finally able to put together a performance we all looked for in August. Glad to see #6 showing up.
Travis Kelce is getting himself in an NFL training camp next year. He had 77 yards to lead the team. He's probably wrestled the leading receiver reigns back from KT. Guys constantly try to take him down with shoulder hits, looking at you #3 on Syracuse, but they never do. That allows Travis to run down the field. He sold the fake on the Winn jump pass TD like a boss.
Travis needs to chill out on the personal fouls though. He had as many personal fouls as he did TD catches. He has been called for at least 3, maybe 4 personal fouls this season. Playing with passion is one thing, but losing your head is another. He got so out of control that he did the Angle Slam on Munchie.
Not cool, Travis.
Let's jump to Munchie. He wasn't outright bad on Saturday. He wasn't great either. He was 11-22, 124 yards, 1 INT. He ran for 39 yards. The problem with him is the same thing that's always the problem with him. He tries to make plays that aren't there. His INT was a bad decision. He threw 2 that were dropped that would have been INTs. The pass that got him pulled from the game was 5 feet over McClung's head. It should have been a touchdown to put Syracuse up 31-21. It wasn't though. I hope getting pulled only fuels him and doesn't shoot his confidence.
I don't like when people boo college kids. Boo the coaches, boo the administration, don't boo the kids.
Brendon Kay didn't do a ton offensively, 3-3, 32 yards, 1 TD, 19 rushing yards, but it seemed like the team perked up when he came in the game. The play on his first career TD pass, congrats Brendon!, was a great play call. Manage the game and this team can win out.
Jordan Luallen ran 6 times for 32 yards and actually threw a pass out of the LuallenCat!!!!!!! Of course there was a penalty on the LuallenCat the first time UC ran it. I don't really like that formation, but the coaches do so it doesn't matter what I think.
The offensive line continues to play well. UC averaged 5 yards a rush, 7.7 yards a pass attempt for 5.9 yards a play. This group is very good.
The only bad thing about the line play was the amount of penalties. 4 holding penalties on the offensive line. They haven't been that sloppy all season.
I couldn't decide if the overall defense deserved a clapping Jones or an angry Jones, but looking back at the game, it's angry. You can see that because you have eyes. They made some plays late, but it's hard to shake the feeling that Cincinnati could have easily lost this game if a couple of touchdown passes weren't dropped. 2 weeks in a row the defense has let down. Thank god that Temple is next on the schedule.
The rush defense was awful. Syracuse's line bullied Cincinnati's front whenever they wanted. Jerome Smith had 116 yards. Prince-Tyson Gulley had 61. Those guys lost a combined 3 yards on 34 carries. They lost fewer yards than RDA on 5 times the carries. Not good.
The secondary and pass defense in general is banged up and boy is it showing. Cameron Cheatham was the only starter that played the whole game. Deven Drane and Arryn Chenault sat out due to injury. Drane did play a couple of plays when UC was in a bind. Drew Frey didn't play a majority of the first half due to injury. The guys filling in are either young or not that great. Nassib and Bridgewater are the 2 best QBs in the league. South Florida, UConn and Temple don't have much in the way of a passing game. The rough waters may be over. But the fact remains that Cincinnati has the worst pass defense in the league.
The defense did step up with a huge play when it mattered most. Chris Williams nearly forced a fumble on Nassib in the first quarter, but a was a fraction too late. In the 3rd quarter, he got him. That set up the go ahead TD pass.
The pass defense may have just made enough of a play to stop Syracuse for dropping 2 sure touchdowns. Since I was so hard on them above, I'll give this a positive.
The special teams changed the game. Cincinnati's first score came on a short field after the kickoff team forced a fumble. Later in the first half, Brandon Mills blocked a field goal. 10 point swing just from the special teams. Wouldn't you know that was the margin of victory? The special teams were great last week. They were great this week.
Greg Blair added another 10 tackles to his ledger. He was partially responsible for the dropped TD pass that led to the blocked field goal. So glad he is coming back for another season.
Trenier Orr made his first start. On the plus side, he had 9 tackles. On the minus side, he had 9 tackles because Nassib picked on him a lot. He made 1 good play and 1 bad play. He'll be a player in a couple years, but he's young.
Shamarko Thomas on Syracuse had 14 tackles and he forced a fumble. He was everywhere. When he hit someone, you could hear it. It was nice watching a player of his talent level play.
This game was 7 hours long. I complained about this on Saturday, but it bears repeating. The officials were not good. The review booth was not good. It was all bad. And George Winn fumbled inside the 10.
Photos via Cincinnati.com