Just two days remain until Bearcats fans can finally wash the bad taste of the Tennessee debacle out of their mouths. There’s not much more I can say about the Akron Zips that I haven’t already covered so let’s just get to the things to look for out of your Bearcats this Saturday.
- Come Out of the Gates Hot - The Bearcats need to bounce back after their peformance in Knoxville. The real test of the maturity of a team is how they rebound the week after a disappointing loss. Cincinnati had little of that last season as each loss seemed to piled on top of themselves. We’ve been told there is more leadership this season and we’ll find out on Saturday. If the Bearcats score a few quick touchdowns or force a turnover/three-and-outs in the first quarter, we can successfully say that this team can weather the bad games.
- Get Isaiah Pead Going – This is going to be a common theme this season. Pead’s been on fire in his first two games and there’s no reason Coach Jones shouldn’t continue to go to his playmaker early and often. Allowing him to get his yardage will also create more balance in the offense, which will allow Zach and his receivers to connect for big plays as the defense gets drawn in to stop Pead.
- Dictate the Game on Defense – Many times, Coach Jones’ offense is going to steal the show and force the tempo in the game. This week, after all the yardage they gave up to Tennessee, the Bearcats’ defensive line and linebackers need to get to Clayton Moore and not allow him to get in a rythme. This also means that the coaches need to call blitzes moreso than they did against the Volunteers. When an offensive line is inexperienced (Tennessee) or not very talented (Akron), confusing them with stunts and blitzes will only work in your favor throughout the game. I want the coaches to allow the front seven to play aggressive.
- Tighten up the Secondary – Kerry Coombs and Drew Frey did nothing to increase our confidence in them last weekend. Both should look better this week if the defense blitzes more allowing for more pressure on the quarterback. Akron shouldn’t (I hope) put up the same numbers Tyler Bray and the Volunteers did but if the Zips put up somewhere in the range of 300 yards passing with a couple of touchdowns, the secondary will continue to get the brunt of my heat.
- Continued Offensive Line Play – This unit had numerous questions coming into this season but so far through two games, and especially against Tennessee, they’ve played very well. Hooey and Hoffman have locked down the edge while Martinez and Davis have performed very well in the middle. Austin Bujnoch, who was splitting time with Andre Cureton during fall camp, is unquestionably the starter this season and looks to be the right guard of the future. Akron’s defense is a little banged up so Cincinnati’s offensive line should push them around with ease to give Pead plenty of running lanes and Zach enough time to get the ball to his playmakers.
Let’s get to the rest of the games in the Big East this week. Rutgers has a bye:
UConn vs. Iowa State – The Cyclones beat instate rival Iowa last weekend to stay undefeated. Meanwhile, UConn is still looking for a starting quarterback after losing to Vanderbilt late in the game last Saturday. Just from a momentum standpoint, one looks like they’re on the rise, the other looks like they’re sputtering. Iowa State: 27, UConn: 17
Pitt vs. Iowa – A second Big East takes on an Iowa school as the Panthers are the visitors this week. Iowa looks to rebound from a loss to Iowa State and the Panthers are still adjusting from the pro-style to Todd Graham’s spread offense. I knew that transition would be tough. Iowa: 30, Pitt: 23
West Virginia vs. Maryland – The Terrapins are looking very tough this year under former Huskies coach Randy Edsall. But West Virginia appears to be hitting their stride on offense and you know the Mountaineers’ defense is always stout. WVU: 38, Maryland: 27
South Florida vs. Florida A&M – The Bulls look good. Like Big East champs good. And no offense to the Rattlers but they’re an FCS school and are simply overmatched here. South Florida: 42, Florida A&M: 6
Louisville vs. Kentucky – These might be the worst teams ever to play in this rivalry since it began so many years ago. It’s a real shame because I love this game both because I like to see UK lose and because it’ll come at the hands of a Big East school. Both the Cardinals and Wildcats are struggling to find anything on offense and their defenses will likely dictate this game. Louisville: 17, Kentucky: 14
Syracuse vs. USC – This is such a tough matchup for the Orange especially considering they have to travel all the way to Los Angeles for this game. Syracuse is mired by injuries and lost a lot of senior talent last season while the Trojans are putting up great numbers with Matt Barkley at quarterback. USC: 35, Syracuse: 18
Topics: Akron, Anthony McClung, Bearcats, Bearcats Football, Big East, Cincinnati, Coach Butch Jones, Coach Jones, Connecticut, D.J. Woods, Derek Wolfe, Isaiah Pead, J.K. Schaffer, Kenbrell Thompkins, Louisville, Louisville Cardinals, Maalik Bomar, Munchie Legaux, Nation, Pitt, Pitt Panthers, RU, Rutgers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, South Florida Bulls, SU, Syracuse, Syracuse Orange, Tennessee, UC Athletics, UConn, USF, West Virginia, West Virginia Mountaineers, WVU, Zach Collaros, Zips