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Know Your Opponent: Houston Cougars

The Cincinnati Bearcats head on the road for the final time in the 2013 season as they get set to face the Houston Cougars. The game will be played at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium after Rice raised a stink and had the game moved last week. The next Cincinnati trip could be to the BBVA Compass Bowl. That is too many BBVA Compasses for this guy. It's looking unlikely that Cincinnati will be playing for a conference title after Central Florida destroyed Rutgers last night. On the flip side, Cincinnati losing tomorrow will make UCF losing once not mean anything. Winning tomorrow is of the utmost importance.

The most important thing about Saturday's game is that it takes place on my birthday. Last season Cincinnati won in football and basketball to make a pretty great day. A 2 year winning streak would be pretty great. Be sure to wish me a happy birthday on twitter or so help me god I will do nothing except be pretty sad that no one acknowledged my birthday. This has been a pretty good year for me with some ups and downs. The same goes for Cincinnati. This is the start of the second season. Getting both off to a good start would be great.

Spread: Houston -3

Game Time: Noon

TV: ESPNews

Series: Houston 13-8

Last Meeting: Cincinnati 47-14, November 16, 2002

Record: 8-2, 5-1

Coach: Tommy Tuberville 8-2 (139-79)

Quarterback: UC signal caller Brendon Kay has been on fire lately. He's 196-270, 72.6%, on the season for 2,411 yards, 20 TDs and 7 INTs. Kay is second in the nation to Johnny Manziel in completion percentage and 8th in passing efficiency. He's coming off a career high 405 yard outing. Kay has another suspect passing defense. He hasn't completed under 70.8% of his passes during the UC win streak. Let's hope his hot streak continues.

Running Backs: The top Cat on the ground is Hosey Williams, despite playing in less games and getting 22 less carries. He's run for 491 yards and 4 TDs. He's got the longest UC run at 77 yards. I think we see him get a bigger role tomorrow. Ralph David Abernathy IV has 106 carries for 409 yards and 3 TDs. Keep running him up the middle, Eddie. Tion Green has 75 rushes for 351 yards and a team best 7 TDs. Jordan Luallen, the Show Off,  has 196 yards and 3 TDs. The run game has not been strong lately despite Williams' 90 yards against SMU. None of the backs are passing catching threats. Abernathy is the best of the group with 15-118.

Receivers: I'm looking for another huge week for the receivers. Shaq Washington leads the team with 64 receptions. He has 604 yards and 1 touchdown. Feels good to type that. Anthony McClung leads the team in yards with 674 on 52 receptions. He has 5 TDs. Chris Moore and Mekale McKay are tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. Moore has 32-435 and McKay has 13-402. Yeah, Mekale McKay is the 4th leading receiver now. Max Morrison has been a bit of a non-factor lately. He's got 24-349-3 TDs. Blake Annen is the only other receiver over 100 yards with 14-173-2 TDs. You have two guys who catch damn near everything and two guys who you can throw it long and say go get it. It works pretty well.

Offensive Line: Eric Lefeld – Austen Bujnoch – Deyshawn Bond – Sam Longo – Parker Ehinger consist of the Bearcats line. Bujnoch didn't make the trip last week and hasn't played 3 of the last 4 games.

Cincinnati averages 6.5 yards a play. They get 9 per pass and 4.3 yards a rush. The line has given up 9 sacks this season. That's pretty good. Cincinnati has 247 first downs. They are 73-140, 52% on 3rd downs. They are 6-13, 46% on 4th. Cincinnati is 32-43, 74% in the red zone.

Defensive Line: The leader on the line is Jordan Stepp with 31 tackles. He's made 7 of them for loss. Stepp is second with 6 sacks. Silverberry Mouhon has 26 tackles and leads the team with 6.5 sacks. He also leads the team with 7 hurries. Adam Dempsey has made 7 TFL with 3.5 sacks. Brad Harrah is second on UC with 7.5 TFL. He's recorded 2 sacks.

Linebackers: Cincinnati's leading tackler is Greg Blair with 71. 6 of his tackles have been for loss, including 1 sack. He's recorded 2 broken up passes, 3 hurries and has forced a fumble. He's damn good. Nick Temple has 56 tackles and a team high 8.5 TFL. He's got 4 sacks. Temple has also picked off a pass and forced a fumble. Jeff Luc hasn't gotten a ton of run lately. He's at 33 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks. He's forced 2 fumbles.

Secondary: The top tacklers in the secondary are the safeties. Zach Edwards leads the unit with 54 tackles, 2 for loss. He's second on the team with 2 INTs.  He's forced a fumble and recovered one. Arryn Chenault is 4th on the Bearcats with 45 tackles. Chenault leads the team in passes broken up at 4 and has 1 INT. Adrian Witty has 36 stops, 2 for loss. He's broken up 3 passes. Witty had the INT in the season opener. He's played a lot more lately. Howard Wilder is the leading tackler at corner with 26. He's picked off a pass while breaking up 3 and forcing a fumble. Deven Drane didn't play last week. He leads the team with 3 INTs. Leviticus Payne started in his place and made his first career INT. Mike Tyson picked off his second pass of the year last week against Rutgers as well. Andre Jones has made 22 tackles.

Kicker: The Golden Toe Tony Miliano is 4-10 on the season, 46-48 on extra points. He went 1-2 last week, missing from 51 and hitting from 30. He's missed 6 of his last 8 kicks after starting 2-2. 2 have been blocked. His made field goal last week was his first since Temple. If you are wondering how long that had been, it was over a month.

Holder: Brendon Kay

Long Snapper: Kirk Willis

Punter: The primary punter is John Lloyd. He's punted 23 times for a 44 yard average. 7 of his 23 punts have been inside the 20. 3 have been touchbacks. His season long is 61. Brendon Kay has punted 11 times. He's put 6 inside the 20 with 3 touchbacks. Houston better watch the pressure or Lloyd will take off again.

Kick Returns: Ralph David Abernathy IV has returned 15 kicks for a 22.5 yard average. His long is 38. Let's see a big one tomorrow, RDA. You've got one in you.

Punt Returns: Anthony McClung has gotten most of the punt return action lately. He's returned 15 for 53 yards, a 3.5 yard average. Shaq Washington has returned 11 for 109 yards, a 9.9 yard average. UC sends them both back and teams are kicking away from Washington.

 

Record: 7-3, 4-2

Coach: Tony Levine 13-10

Quarterback: Quarterback John O'Korn got his first start after David Piland has his career shortened due to concussions. He's stepped in and been one of the best freshmen QBs in the country. He's second in the league in TDs with 23. O'Korn is 201-328, 61.3% for 2,473 yards, 23 TDs and 6 INTs. He won't make a lot of mistakes. His accuracy can come and go. He's a freshman after all. He was only 16-35 against Louisville and 24-46 against UCF. That was after back to back weeks of completion percentages of 80% or better. 3 of his picks came against BYU, 2 were against UCF. O'Korn can run a little bit. He's gained 248 yards, which puts him 3rd on Houston. He's ran for a TD as well.

Running Backs: The top ball carrier is Ryan Jackson. He's run 123 times for 589 yards and 5 TDs. Kenneth Farrow is listed as the starter. He's run 77 times for 423 yards, 5.5 a carry, and 5 TDs. He's played two less games than Jackson. Greg Ward Jr has played 7 games, rushing for 183 yards and 2 scores. Justin Hicks has also run for 2 scores.  They spread the running TD wealth.

Jackson is the 4th leading receiver with 22 catches for 253 yards and 2 TDs. Farrow has 20 catches for just 94 yards, but that does include a TD. You have to watch the backs in the passing game. They are a large part of it.

Receivers: The biggest news of the week is the status of Deontay Greenberry. The sophomore receiver has 70 receptions for 1,042 yards and 9 TDs. All of those lead Houston by a lot. The talented receiver is a game time decision after receiving a concussion on the opening series against Louisville. He practiced on Tuesday. It's a big deal if he plays or not. O'Korn and the offense really struggled without him. Daniel Spencer has 38 receptions for 598 yards and 5 TDs. He's rushed for a TD as well.  Xavier Maxwell had 26-352-4 TDs and after that, the production for receivers falls off a cliff. It's take your pick. Larry McDuffey has 15-102, Markeith Ambles 10-139. Aaron Johnson, Demarcus Ayers and Wayne Beadle have all scored.

Offensive Line: The Cougar line is DeAnthony Sims – Rowdy Harper – Bryce Redman – Kevin Forsch – Zach Johnson. Sims has started since the Memphis game, as has Rowdy Harper. The two switched positions after three games. Redman, Forsh and Johnson have been there all year.

Houston averages 6 yards a play. They get 7.6 yards a pass and 4.3 yards a rush. The line has given up 20 sacks. They have produced 236 first downs. The Cougars are 56-140 on 3rd down, 40%. They are just 2-10 on 4th. Houston is 40-48, 83%, in the red zone. Their best scoring quarter this year has been the second. That's where they got all their points last week.

Defensive Line: End Trevor Harris has 38 tackles, 5 for loss and 3 sacks to lead the Cougs up front. He's had 4 hurries while forcing a fumble. He's blocked a kick. Tackle Joey Mbu has 3.5 TFL which includes a sack. He's had 5 hurries and has batted down 3 passes so he does get pressure. Tyrus Bowser is second on the team with 5 sacks. He leads the team with 8 hurries and has picked off a pass. Jeremiah Farley is the top tackle for loss man, 3rd on the team, on the line with 7. 2 are sacks. He's forced a pair of fumbles. Tomme Mark has a sack and an INT. Why does the Houston line have so many INTs? BJ Singleton has 1 sack and 1 INT. I swear. He's batted down 2 passes. He's batted down 3 kicks. Watch out for that man.

Linebackers: The Cougars leading tackler is Efrem Oliphant with 98. He's made 10.5 TFL with 3 sacks. He's forced a pair of fumbles. Oliphant has five double digit tackle games on the season. He's pretty damn good. Middle linebacker Derick Mathews has 90 tackles, including a team high 11 for loss. He leads the Cougs with 6 sacks. Mathews has picked off a pass as well as forced 2 fumbles. Steven Taylor is the 3rd linebacker. He's made 67 tackles, 6 for loss with 4 sacks. He's broken up 5 passes.

Secondary: Free safety Trevon Stewart is one of the best safeties in the league on the stat sheet. He's made 83 tackles which feature 5 double digit tackle games as well. He has a team high 4 INTs, he's recovered 5 fumbles while forcing a pair. He is number 23. He will be around the ball a lot tomorrow. Stewart's safety mate is Adrian McDonald. He's made 67 tackles, 1.5 for loss. He's second on the team with 3 INTs. He's broken up 3 passes. 7 INTs between the safeties. They are some bad boys. Zach McMillian is a corner who has 46 tackles. He's picked off 2 passes, broken up 4 and has forced a fumble. The other corner is Thomas Bates, who has 43 tackles, 2 INTs and a team best 8 passes broken up. William Jackson has 31 tackles and a 96 yard INT return. He's broken up 3 passes. Turon Walker has 2 INTs.

Kicker: Houston just went through a kicking change. Kyle Bullard took over the kicking duties last week. He was 2-2 on field goals, hitting from 46 and 22. He's hit all 11 of his extra point tries. Houston's kicking game is in a shaky situation. Forcing them to kick is huge. As a team, Houston has had 3 kicks blocked.

Holder: Dylan Seibert

Long Snapper: Nolan Frese

Punter: Richie Leone is one of the best punters in the nation. He's been a Ray Guy semifinalist three straight years. He's punted 49 times for a 42.7 yard average. 24 of his 49 punts have gone inside the 20. That's really damn good. He's hit 3 punts over 60 yards and has 10 over 50 this season. He's only kicked 3 touchbacks. 21 of his punts have been fair caught. Hidden yards are big in games like these. He certainly flips the field.

Kick Returns: The return man is Demarcus Ayers, who has a 27.5 yard average. He's taken a kick 95 yards for a touchdown. This makes me worry a little bit.

Punt Returns: Damian Payne takes the punts. He's returned 15 for 64 yards with a long of 31. That's a 4.3 yard average, nothing special.

 

PAW POINTS

BBVA Compass Stadium is home to the Houston Dynamo of the MLS. Just an FYI. I don't really care either. Why is that a note if no one cares? I already typed it is why.

Houston has never lost at BBVA Compass Stadium.

They've played 1 game there but you got a little worried about that trick note.

Cincinnati has 23 straight games of 340 yards of total offense. Houston held Louisville to 332 last week. Houston has pulled that trick against Temple as well.

Houston also gave up nearly 700 yards to BYU and almost 500 to UT-San Antonio.

The Cougars rank 111th against the pass having given up over 2,700 yards through the air. Only 11 passing TDs though. Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles combined for 0 passing TDs against them.

Houston is 39th against the run.

Houston leads the nation in turnover margin at +22. Their linebackers force a ton of fumbles. Protect the ball.

Will we see a lot of Tion Green? Fumbling has been an issue with him in the past. He had the one against SMU. Maybe we see more Luallen.

Houston scored in every quarter of the season until the UCF game. Since then, they have scored in just 3 of 8 quarters against the top teams in the league, according to the rankings.

Storm Johnson ran for 127 yards. Dominique Brown ran for 137 yards. Will someone on UC run for 147 yards? No, they won't. Spoiler alert.

Houston has had at least 6 receivers make a catch every game this season. They've had at least 8 men catch a ball the last 4 games.

Houston has blocked 4 kicks. That has been an issue for UC. Houston has had 3 kicks blocked. That has been an issue for Houston.

I would bet the house that we see a fake field goal now that Brendon Kay is the holder. It's coming. Just you wait.

I thought Houston would lose the last two weeks and still thought they would beat Cincinnati. My opinion on that matter has changed. Cincinnati has played so well lately. They are focused on a singular goal, winning out. They are playing some damn good ball. That's not to say Houston hasn't, playing UCF and Louisville to one score games on the road is impressive in it's own right. I believe in the boys. Bring back the dub.

Cincinnati 35 Houston 31

Scott

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on the Student Section.

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