Tomorrow at noon, Cincinnati hosts Senior Day as they bring Southern Methodist into town. The ceremony is slated to start at 11:43 am or 25 minutes before game time according to the countdown clock. This is the final Saturday home game, so it makes a bit of sense to do this. Easier for the families and you don't have to celebrate the seniors in a stadium half full of Louisville fans. I've been a lot more focused on the start of basketball season than I have this game. I'm sure the game will be great though.
TV: ESPN Regional / ESPN3 / 12 WKRC
Spread: Cincinnati -8.5
History: First Meeting
Record: 6-2, 3-1
Coach: Tommy Tuberville 6-2 (136-79)
Quarterback: Brendon Kay has been on fire lately, more on that in the paw points, tease tease, which has coincided with wins. He's 145-200, 72.5% on the season. He's thrown for 1,707 yards, with 14 TDs against 5 INTs. He hasn't thrown an INT at home this season. He has a chance of hitting 2,000 yards, which would be a pretty nice milestone. Kay has rushed for 92 yards, but his 3 TDs are tied for third on the team.
Running Backs: The leading rusher is now Ralph David Abernathy IV. He's run for 387 yards and 3 scores. He's up to 4.2 yards a carry. He's averaging 3 fewer yards per game than Hosey Williams and two more than Tion Green. Williams has 362 yards and 4 TDs. Green has 278 yards with a team best 6 TDs. When UC has it close, it's Green time. The rusher to watch lately has been the Show Off Jordan Luallen. He's racked up 149 yards, most over the last two games. He punched in a TD last week. Hopefully he didn't let the crushing awfulness of Impact put him in a funk yesterday. None of the backs are truly a threat to catch passes, RDA's 32 yard grab last week excepted.
Receivers: Cincinnati's first 50 reception receiver of the season was Shaq Washington. He has exactly 50 catches for 430 yards. He still hasn't scored. I still want him to get one in. Anthony McClung is the top yardage man. He's produced 462 yards on 37 catches. He leads the lead with 5 receiving touchdowns. Chris Moore and Max Morrison have nearly identical stats. Moore has 23-323-4 TDs, Morrison 20-322-3 TDs. The long ball threat Mekale McKay has 8 catches, but 209 yards and 3 TDs. Blake Annen has chipped in 13 grabs for 168 yards and a pair of scores.
Offensive Line: Eric Lefeld – Austin Bujnoch – Deyshawn Bond – Sam Longo – Parker Ehinger is slated to be the starting line, but Andre Cureton has started in place of Bujnoch the past two games. Bujnoch is considered to be a game time decision.
Cincinnati averages 6.2 yards a play. They get 8.5 per pass and 4.4 yards a rush. UC has 192 first downs. UC is 58-112, 52% on 3rd downs. They've tried 10 4th down conversions, but only 4 have been successful. Cincinnati has allowed only 7 sacks this season. They are 26-36, 72% in the red zone.
Defensive Line: The team leader in sacks is Silverberry Mouhon with 5.5 Those account for all of his tackles for loss. He's made 24 tackles overall. He leads the team with 6 hurries. Adam Dempsey is second on the Cats in tackles for loss with 6.5. He's third with 3.5 sacks. He's had a tremendous senior season. Jordan Stepp is tied for second in sacks with 4. He's got an additional tackle for loss added on to that. All Brad Harrah has done is make tackles in the backfield. He's got 5.5. Terrell Hartsfield has 3, 1.5 of which are sacks. Mitch Meador has added in 2.5 TFL as well.
Linebackers: The leading tackler is Greg Blair, who cleared the 50 tackle hurdler last week. He's made 51 stops, 5.5 for loss with 1 sack. He's forced a fumble, broken up 2 passes and is responsible for 3 hurries. He's followed by Nick Temple with 42 tackles. Temple still leads the team in TFL with 8. He's tied with Stepp at 4 sacks. He's picked off a pass as well. Jeff Luc rounds out the linebacker stats with 29 tackles. He's made 5.5 for loss as well. He's got 1.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He forced one last week.
Defensive Backs: The reigning American DPOTW Zach Edwards anchors the secondary. He's made 38 tackles, 1.5 for loss. He's second on the team with 2 INTs. He's forced and recovered a fumble. Arryn Chenault has picked up 36 tackles, 1 for loss. He's one of three players who have broken up 3 passes. Howard Wilder, 19 tackles, 1 INT is the second. The team leader in INTs at 3 and the third man in that tie is Deven Drane. Adrian Witty has made 25 tackles, 1 for loss.He's got 1 INT and 2 passes broken up. These 5 men will be challenged.
Kicker: The Golden Toe Tony Miliano hasn't been so golden lately. He's 3-7 on field goals and 31-33 on extra points. He missed one of both last week. Keep your head up, Tony, we need you.
Holder: John Lloyd
Long Snapper: Kirk Willis
Punter: John Lloyd is averaging 43.7 yards a punt on 20 attempts. He's put 5 inside the 20 with a long of 60. Brendon Kay has also put 5 inside the 20 in just 9 punts. Kay dropped one at the Memphis 4 last week. Lloyd hit one to the 9. He also hit a terrible punt of 26 yards.
Kick Returns: RDA IV has averaged 23.7 yards a kick return. The only return UC had last week was by Rod Moore. It went for 33 yards and was huge in icing the game. This unit has not done a lot this season. Maybe against another shaky unit UC could have some success.
Punt Returns: Shaq Washington broke a 35 yard punt return last week. He's averaging a pretty nice distance. This part of the stat sheet is not updated in the game notes. So that's fun.
Record: 3-4, 2-1
Coach: June Jones 34-38 (110-79)
Quarterback: Garrett Gilbert has been on fire this season, especially lately. He's averaging 501 yards total offense the last 3 games. He's thrown 11 TDs to 1 INT. The Mustangs should be 3-0 in those games, but blew the Rutgers game in overtime.
For the season, Gilbert is 245-382 for 2,634 yards, with 15 TDs against 6 INTs. He's averaging 376 yards a game. Cincinnati is giving up 280 yards a game. Total. Gilbert is also the leading rusher for the Mustangs. He's picked up 224 yards. His 5 rushing TDs also lead the team. There are no two ways about it, to beat SMU, you have to slow down his right arm.
Running Backs: With Gilbert leading the team in rushing, the running backs can probably easily be dismissed. Traylon Shead has 197 yards on 3.9 yards a carry with 3 TDs. His longest run of the year was 16. Prescott Line has 152 yards and 2 TDs with a long of 21. He's averaging 3.8 yards a carry. KC Nlemchi is the only back over 4 yards, getting 4.9 a pop. He's rushed for 128 yards with 1 score. Oh yeah, Gilbert also has the longest run of the season for the Mustangs. None of the backs are a threat in the pass game really. Nlemchi has 11 catches for 59 yards, Shead 6-26.
Receivers: Get in your pass defense stances now, UC defensive backs who are reading this. SMU goes to the air a lot , especially to three men. Jeremy Johnson has 64 receptions for 752 yards and 4 TDs on the season. Johnson already owns the SMU record for games with 10+ receptions. He's done it 4 times this year alone. He's a major threat. Darius Joseph also has 64 receptions. He's amassed 561 yards with 3 TDs. His longest reception is 31. Think of him as Shaq Washington if you want. Keenan Holman has 42 receptions for 665 yards. He's a major home run threat. He leads the team with 6 TDs. Der'rikk Thompson is the 4th and final threat. He's got 19 grabs for 239 yards with 1 TD. They have a receiver named Deion Sanders, who is the son of football Hall of Famer Bart Starr. I wish he played more.
Offensive Line: Ben Gottschalk – Sam Rice – Taylor Lasecki – Ben Hughes – Kris Weeks make up the Mustang line.
The Mustangs average 5.9 yards a play. They get 6.9 per pass attempt and 3.9 a rush. They have picked up 173 first downs. The line has given up 22 sacks. SMU converts 42% on third down. They've gone for it 12 times on 4th, picking up 7. They aren't really great in the red zone. The Mustangs have only scored on 79% of possessions. Their opponents have scored on 91%.
Defensive Line: Left end Beau Barnes is the guy to watch. He's tops on the Mustangs with 9 tackles for loss. He leads the team with 5 sacks. He's forced a fumble. He's even dropped back into coverage to pick off a pass. Barnes is going to be a tough challenge for someone. The right end is Zach Wood, 28 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack. Wood has blocked a kick, something which has been an issue for UC.
Linebackers: The leading tackler for SMU is Randall Joyner with 51. He's made 3.5 for loss with 1 sack. He's broken up 2 passes in coverage. Joyner has been very disruptive. He leads SMU with 3 forced fumbles. Stephon Sanders is right on his heels with 49 tackles. He's third on the team with 7 tackles for loss. He's 4th with 1.4 sacks. He leads the team with 3 hurries. One of his tackles was responsible for a safety. The MIKE backer is Kevin Pope. He's made 47 tackles. Pope is second on the team with 8 tackles for loss and second with 2.5 sacks. SMU plays a 3-4. The 4th linebacker is Jonathan Yenga. I'm sure he's never heard a jenga joke. He's made 31 tackles. More impressively, 5 have been for loss. He's tied for third on the team with two sacks. Robert Seals is a rusher. He's got 2 tackles and 2 hurries.
Defensive Backs: Strong safety Jay Scott leads this unit in tackles with 37. He's made 3 TFL. He's second on the team with 4 passes broken up. The team leader is one of the better corners in the league, Kenneth Acker. He's broken up 10 passes to go with is 1 INT. He's made 29 tackles, 27 of them solo. He's got 2.5 TFL and a sack. Corner Chris Parks has 3 TFL and 1 pass broken up. He's forced a fumble but has recovered a pair of them. Around the ball, he is. Shakiel Randolph has 17 tackles at safety after being plugged in due to injury.
Kicker: The SMU kicker is Chase Hover. He's hit 13-14 with a long of 51. Hover is 24-25 on extra points. He leads the American with 13 made field goals, and is thought of as the best kicker in the league. His only miss this season was from 20-29. He's 6-6 from 30-39, 4-4 from 40-49.
Holder: Cody Rademacher
Long Snapper: Jordan Tobolka
Punter: Mike Loftus handles the punts. He's hit 30 for an average of 41.1 yards. His long is 58. 4 punts have been fair caught. 3 have landed inside the 20. 4 of his punts have gone for touchbacks. He's had a punt blocked.
Kick Returns: SMU has two primary return men. JaBryce Taylor has taken the majority of kicks for an 18.4 yard average with a long of 40. Deion Sanders, he does play more!, has taken 10 for 215 yards with a long of 87. Aaron Stafford has averaged 21.8 yards on 5 returns.
Punt Returns: JaBryce Taylor has returned 5 of the 10 punts SMU has fielded. He's picked up 88 yards, a 17.6 yard average. He has taken one for a score. That is worth noting.
The losing coach tomorrow afternoon will lose their 80th career game. That's a fun fact if ever a fun fact existed.
SMU is 18-1 in their last 35 games when scoring first.
They are 0-16 when they don't in that span.
Cincinnati gives up 177.8 yards passing per game. That's going to be challenged.
Since the second half of the USF game, Kay has completed 76.3% of his passes for 1,038 yards and 10 TDs. That's a good game notes stat.
SMU has one the worst turnover ratios nationally at -10. They've forced 11 fumbles while only recovering 4. They fumbled 17 times, losing 11.
Why do I list the holder and long snapper when I already post the depth chart? To get their name mentioned. That's why.
SMU hasn't won a game where they've scored under 20 points. That has happened twice. Both games were on the road, at Texas A&M and Texas Christian.
SMU throws a lot but that doesn't mean their games can't be boring. Anyone who watched them open the season against Texas Tech can attest to that.
SMU has given up a kick return TD. Ahem, RDA IV.
Please show up early to support the seniors. UC is expecting 30,000. Be there. You don't have to stay the whole time, lord knows many of you students won't, but give the seniors some love. They have earned it.
Tommy Tuberville opened his Texas Tech career by leading the Red Raiders over SMU 35-27. I'm going with that for my final.
Cincinnati 35 Southern Methodist 27