Tomorrow is the Bearcat Bowl, Cincinnati's spring game. As previously advertised, Bearcats Blog is going to throw 10 things to look for at you to get prepared for the hint of football. Normally, the the spring game is the end of practice, but for the Bearcats, they still have another week left before they break for the spring. The game is at 5:30, and is open to the public. If you can't make it, the game will be on Fox Sports Ohio. Here's what to look for.
Just like last year, the Bearcat Bowl is going to get rained on. Dress accordingly. Rain was the #1 reason that I didn't go last season, and it's the #1 reason I probably won't go tomorrow. For those of you who have ponchos, I suggest getting to Nippert around 4:30 and hanging out a little before the gates open at 5. That tip comes with no inside information, but just seems smart. For those of you brave enough to tempt the weather, I hope it doesn't rain. Bearcats Blog cares.
2) It's a family event
UC has gone all out to make tomorrow a day to remember for youngsters. If you have a child 8th grade or under, there is a free Bearcat football clinic at 2:30. Registration is at 2, so be there early. That's immediately followed by an autograph session. UC will also have the family zone going, which could be a good time. They probably need a practice bubble for the family zone.
3) The revamped offensive line
The Bearcats had a bad offensive line last season, and they lost 3 starters going into this year. While that could be very bad, it could also be a good thing. Sean Hooey has impressed with his new look. Hooey is taking on a lot of responsibility as the left tackle. He's Zach's blind side. No word on if he had to move in with a rich family because he was poor and lived on the streets. We are getting word, and that didn't happen. Evan Davis makes the change from guard to center, the same change Jason Kelce made last season. Andre Cureton has lost a lot of weight, and is pencilled in at right guard. Randy Martinez is awesome and will be back at right guard. That leaves Alex Hoffman at right tackle, a position he manned the majority of last season.
4) Who is going to take the last linebacker spot
Walter Stewart has basically moved to defensive end. His spot in the defense is up for grabs. The men that Butch Jones has talked about stepping up are Dwight Jackson and Nick Temple. Both are class clown freshmen, dressed like Les Nessman. I don't know a lot about either one. I'm hoping that Temple steps up to be the man. Mainly because his name sounds a little more solid. It has that extra oomph. The Bearcats have a couple of studs at the LB position, but JK Schaffer and Maalik Bomar can't be counted on to do it all. They might, but you can't bank on it.
5) Kenbrell Thompkins and the UC receiving corp
The hype machine has really spun into overdrive for Thompkins lately. That has been a good thing, because Thompkins has dropped jaws nearly every practice. He's probably a little unfairly, being thrown into the expectations of the Mardy Gilyard/Armon Binns role in the offense. Those are giant shoes to fill, but I really believe that Kenbrell can fill them. He's going to have lots of help. DJ Woods is back for his senior season. No one is talking about DJ at all. If Woods can cut the drops, and get his emotions under control this season, UC is going to have a stellar 1-2 punch at receiver. I really, really like Anthony McClung. I think he's going to take a giant step. Shaq Washington has looked good in practice from what I've read. Dyjuan Lewis was a pretty highly rated recruit when he came to UC, so hopefully he does something sometime. I expect big things from the group tomorrow. Rain or no rain.
6) The secondary
The UC secondary was admittedly awful. I'm not sure one of them admitted that they were awful, but I'm sure behind closed doors they did. It sounds like the Bearcats are throwing out the newly returned Dominique Battle and Cam Cheatham at corner, and Drew Frey and Malcolm Murray at safety. Wes Richardson should come back to take a spot in when the season starts, but he's hurt right now. Murray is a JUCO, and I'm a little excited about what he can bring to the secondary. Pat Lambert, Richardson, and Frey weren't exactly awesome in coverage last year in the safety spot. Frey especially. Hell, I don't think anyone was that great in the secondary, besides Reuben Johnson. There wasn't the ball hawk to cause turnovers. That's pretty important. Speaking of Johnson, it kind of sounds like he's the odd man out with Battle back. Cheatham really stepped up when Dom went down last season, and reportedly had a great winter. I like Reuben, and I hope that he can earn a shot at keeping his spot. The secondary is a year older, and hopefully that means they are a year better.
7) Isaiah Pead and the running backs
The running back situation looks great for the Bearcats. Pead is a very, very good back. When he is healthy, he's the engine of the Bearcats offense. He missed 3 games pretty much, and still had over 1,000 yards. Pead has the home run talent. Darrin Williams is healthy, and should be one of the primary back ups. He's going to be in the mix with George Winn. Winn was pretty decent last year in mop up duty. Jameel Poteat is in the mix as well. I hope that Poteat can do some things. He's a 4 star running back that the Bearcats picked up over the summer. I'd like to see him get next crack after Williams. Mainly because of the next point.
8) What will Darrin Williams do this year?
Last season, Williams busted out red dreads for the spring game. It was pretty awesome. This season, Williams hasn't stated what he's going to do. My suggestion of writing Bearcats Blog on his cleats didn't go over. Maybe I should have said B. One letter seems cool. Dammit, I should have thought of that. That would probably be against NCAA rules somehow, and Williams would be taken back to 18th century France and beheaded. The NCAA has access to a time machine. True story.
9) The backup QB
Last season, it was Chazz Anderson who held the clipboard behind young Zachary. This season, Jones has thrown the backup position wide open. Anderson is still in the mix, but now there are Jordan Luallen, Brandon Kay, Stephan Weatherford and apparently Munchie Legaux, who blocked me on twitter. Munchie could, and probably should, be moved back to receiver. Not because he blocked me, but because I think if he can't win the job, he should be in the mix to get on the field. I have a feeling the backup is going to be Kay, then the Georgia Tech transfer Luallen, Anderson and Weatherford. Patrick Coyne is left off the list, even though he's the real deal, and the QB for the future.
Yeah, fun is a stupid thing to look for. The Bearcats had a rough season last year, we all know that. The players have to take what they learned from the hardship, and make this season special. Fun is part of the game. The Bearcat Bowl is for the fans. Enjoy yourself tomorrow.
Yeah, I didn't have a 10th thing.