The trap game has come to fruition. Maybe it was a factor of Cincinnati playing a team that is 4 – 1 (now 5 – 1) against BCS teams at home. Maybe it was a factor of the Bearcats looking ahead to a huge Keg of Nails matchup on Friday against the Louisville Cardinals. Maybe it was a factor of UC basking the light of the unbeatened and ranked playing a team that was 6 – 1 with an explosive, experienced offense.
But what really brought the Bearcats down were the Bearcats themselves. Let me be clear. The Toledo Rockets outright won this game. They outplayed Cincinnati on offense, defense, and special teams. But UC’s warts were exposed tonight. In five wins they’ve managed to overcome slow starts, the limitations of Munchie Legaux, below-average play by the front 7, and untimely penalties.
Tonight the Bearcats again got off the blocks slowly, scoring just 13 points against a Toledo defense gives up 28 per game. Munchie Legaux also got off to a slow start. He threw a pick-6 along with another interception to end the game and completed just 42% of his passes. He made some solid throws but also airmailed a few passes that should have been completed. Overall he showed regression tonight and was a primary reason for the Bearcats losing tonight. He shouldn’t shoulder the bulk of the blame tonight. Cincinnati gave up 229 yards rushing tonight and missed out on numerous sacks of quarterback Terrance Owens. They clearly missed Walter Stewart tonight. Finally the penalties. Only 4 – 45 yards tonight but the holding penalties by Kenbrell Thompkins and Travis Kelce negated big runs.
So where do we go from here? Well before we start committing cult-style suicide remember that Cincinnati is 5 – 1 and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. The Bearcats still boast a powerful defense despite the mistakes tonight. And on offense UC can still get it done on the ground. Cincy reeled off 249 yards rushing tonight. It’s my honest opinion that the Bearcats’ coaching staff panicked with their team down in the middle of the 4th quarter and got away from their bread-and-butter. The running attack worked tonight, no matter what the coaches may have though, and it will continue to work all season.
Another thread in the silver lining is that Cincinnati’s coaches have to be fuming right now. Both at themselves and their players. They will undoubtedly be more focused than ever this week in practice in preparation to take down Louisville on Friday night. One can hope, right?