Tomorrow at noon once again on the Big East Network, the same channel that the Syracuse game was on last week, the Cincinnati Bearcats head on the road for the second to last time this season. It's kind of crazy that the Cats are down to 2 road games left. The next road game after this will be the last game of the season. Time has flown this year, my friends. If it hasn't for you, tell me how it's gone so slowly so I can jump on that train. I don't really have anything interesting to say in the first paragraph, so let's just move on to the preview.
Record: 6-2, 2-1
Coach: Butch Jones 20-13, 0-0 vs Temple
Vs Temple: 4-9-1
In Philadelphia: 1-7
Winning Streak vs Temple: 2
Last Meeting: 30-24 (3 OTs)
Leading Passer: Munchie Legaux 120-239, 1,716 yards, 13 TDs - 9 INTs
Leading Rusher: George Winn 153-897 - 7 TDs
Leading Receiver: Travis Kelce 19 - 385 - 4 TDs
Quarterbacks: It's the day before gameday and we still don't know who the Bearcats quarterback will be. I'm guessing the longer we go without a public name, the more likely it is that Brendon Kay is going to be named the starter over Munchie Legaux. Kay practically needed to avoid getting hurt to get the start tomorrow one would think. For a senior, we know a whole lot of nothing about Kay. He has 13 passes and 17 rushes. We do know that he is a decent runner for quarterback. Running should be a theme tomorrow. Temple is pretty awful. The quarterback needs to not turn the ball over. That's something that Munchie just hasn't been able to avoid. Toledo was a bad game. Louisville was a bad game. Syracuse probably would have been a bad game if Munchie stayed in. I believe in him, but that doesn't mean that you can leave him out there when he is not playing well. Butch Jones said Jordan Luallen had a shot at winning the starting job, but that seems far fetched. I do think we see Luallen run another 5-10 times.
Running Backs: George Winn and Ralph David Abernathy IV need to make sure they are extra loose and ready to go tomorrow because they should see a lot of action. Winn has a chance to go over 1,000 yards for the season if he comes close to his 112 yards a game average. Clearly he doesn't need all 112 as you can see by his yardage. I once again look for RDA to get early touches as a receiver to try and get him going. I'm going to make the prediction that he will break at least 1 long run tomorrow. For a touchdown. Let's go bold with it. Put on those working boots, it's going to be a day of action.
Receivers: One of the interesting things about having a switch at quarterback is the question of "What receiver will he target the most?" I say that as UC has 5 receivers with 18 catches and none with over 23. I wonder if Kay would come in and have a Jeff Blake to Carl Pickens vibe with any of the guys. Like he and Alex Chisum connect for over 200 yards or something. That's very unrealistic. Travis Kelce leads UC in yards. Kenbrell Thompkins leads UC in catches. The 2 have swapped the receiving yard lead lately. Damon Julian is a dark horse to pass them with 295 yards. Anthony McClung really came on last week with a 75 yard receiving game against Syracuse.
Offensive Line: From left to right
- Eric Lefeld
- Austen Bujnoch
- Dan Sprague
- Sam Longo
- Parker Ehinger
Cincinnati averages 5.6 yards a rush, 7.7 yards a pass for a combined 6.5 yards a play. The line has given up 6 sacks this season. Outside of penalty-fest last week, they haven't been hammered with penalties. They are a good group. We don't hear their names a lot during the game, so that means they are doing their job.
Defensive Line: The Bearcats defensive line continues to be anchored by Dan Giordano. He has 36 tackles. 3.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks. He has a team high 9 hurries. Giordano needs a game where he get 3 sacks. Why not this one? John Williams has 24 tackles, 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks at his tackle position. He's played well this year. Jordan Stepp has 3.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack at the other tackle position. He had a slow start, but is rounding into shape. He's Stepp-ing it up. Horrible pun. Camaron Beard has 4 tackles for loss. The tackles have been good. Brandon Mills has 17 tackles, 1 sack and 3 hurries. The most notable thing he's done this year is block a field goal last week. I just want to say Silverberry Mouhon's name.
Linebackers: The battle for leading tackler on the team is over. Greg Blair has pulled very far away from Maalik Bomar. So much so that Bomar would have to start making UC history to catch him. Blair has 83 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 4 passes broken up, and 3 QB hurries. He's been the heart and soul of the defense. Bomar hasn't been too shabby himself. He's second on the team by a wide margin with 57 tackles. He has 2.5 for loss and 1 INT. It seems like he's taken a step back the last couple of weeks. Nick Temple has 23 tackles, 2 for loss, 1.5 sacks. He makes his presence known when he is on the field.
Secondary: The Bearcats secondary is banged up to hell. They have been, statistically, the worst unit in the Big East this season and this does not help. Safety Arryn Chenault did not play last week. Corner Deven Drane was an emergency player only. Both are back this week, but the guy who started last week for Drane, Trenier Orr, is out this week. Chenault leads the secondary with 36 tackles, 1.5 for loss and is tied for the team lead with 2 INTs. Cameron Cheatham, the only player not to be injured, has 29 tackles, 2.5 for loss and also has 2 INTs to tie him with Chenault and Greg Blair. Drew Frey has 27 tackles at his safety spot. He's been banged up all year, playing 5 and a half games. Drane has 1 INT and 4 passes broken up. Adrian Witty and Chris Williams have been splitting time at the nickel. Both have 14 tackles and 1 sack. Williams has 3 tackles for loss compared to Witty's 2. Williams made the big sack and strip of Ryan Nassib last week.
Special Teams: Kirk Willis continues to be the long snapper to Pat O'Donnell. O'Donnell has punted 33 times for an average of 42 yards a punt. He has put 14 inside the 20. 5 have been over 50 yards. O'Donnell has held all of Tony Miliano's kick attempts. The Golden Toe is 10-14 on field goals and 34-35 on extra points. RDA IV returns kicks. He has a 27 yard average. Anthony McClung averages 11.3 yards a punt return and Danny Milligan 19.8, albeit in 10 less returns. #Thrilligan.
Record: 3-5, 2-3
Coach: Steve Addazio 12-9
Last Win vs Cincinnati: 1985
Leading Passer: Chris Coyer 79-148, 890 yards, 8 TDs - 3 INTs
Leading Rusher: Montel Harris 121- 578 - 5 TDs
Leading Receiver: Jalen Fitzpatrick 22 - 291 - 2 TDs
Quarterbacks: Chris Coyer isn't a great quarterback. He is not very accurate at 53%. That's a little better than Munchie. He is left handed and he does like to run. He's Temple's second leading rusher with 410 yards. He has 2 rushing TDs. He could be compared to Steve Young because he is left handed, a quarterback and will run. He's also a Mormon. That's not true. He could be though. He's not a major threat with his arm. 111 yards a game for your QB is pretty bad.
Running Backs: Montel Harris is the leading rusher since supplanting Matt Brown before the 4th game of the season. Brown has worked his way into an OR situation this week. Harris is averaging 4.8 yards a carry and is the only Owl to see the end zone more than 3 times. He's only lost 20 yards in his 121 carries. Brown has 47 carries for 266 yards and 2 TDs. Harris is 4th on the team in receptions with 9. Brown has 4 grabs. It's strange there is an OR situation here since Harris ran 15 times for 115 yards last week and Brown had 2 carries for 5 yards. That tricky Temple, trying to keep us guessing.
Receivers: There is only 1 receiving threat on the Owls and that's Jalen Fitzpatrick. He's the only one with 20 receptions. He's the only one with over 120 yards. None of the other Owl receivers are averaging 15 yards a game. That makes Fitzpatricks' 22 - 291 - 2 TDs stand out. Cody Booth is a red zone target with 13 - 114 - 3 TDs. Deon Miller has 7 - 101 on the back of a 33 yard reception. Kenny Harper has 10 - 94 because he caught a 44 yard pass. I think you could say the unit is not very good.
Offensive Line: Once again, from left to right
- Zach Hooks
- Jeff Whittingham
- Sean Boyle
- Kyle Friend
- Martin Wallace
Hooks, Whittingham and Wallace have started every game. Friend started at center last week while Scott Roorda played right guard. Boyle had started every game before that. Temple is averaging 4.1 yards a rush, 6.1 yards a pass for a total of 4.7 yards a play. Temple has given up 17 sacks, which isn't that bad.
Defensive Line: John Youboty is the leading tackler of the group with 29. He has 4 tackles for a loss. He's second on the team with 3 sacks. He has forced a fumble. And yes, he is the brother of former Ohio State player Ashton Youboty. Youboty is still a funny name, no matter how they try to say it's you-boat-y. Marcus Green has 26 tackles, 3 for loss and 2 sacks at end. He and Youboty both have 2 hurries to lead the team. Green has blocked a kick. Hershey Walton has a cool name and 25 tackles. Shahid Paulhill has 1 sack. Levi Brown has 1.5 tackles for loss. Sean Daniels has 2 sacks this season.
Linebackers: Tyler Matakevich is the leading tackler for the Owls with 66. He has 3 for loss. He's broken up 3 passes, which makes him one of many tied for second on the team. Nate D. Smith is right on his tail in tackles with 60. He leads Temple in tackles for loss with 5.5. He leads Temple in sacks with 3.5. He leads Temple with 3 forced fumbles. The D stands for defense. Blaze Caponegro is listed as the 3rd starter. He has 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack in 6 games. He missed 2 games being an American Gladiator. Olaniyi Adewole has 4 tackles for loss and 1 sack.
Secondary: Justin Gildea is a safety and the leading tackler in the secondary with 45. He has 3 for loss and 1 sack. He's broken up 3 passes. Vaughn Carraway is the other safety. He has 41 tackles. He has an INT. Anthony Robey starts at one corner. He has 41 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks. He leads the Owls with 4 passes broken up. Tavon Young has 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and he leads the Owls with 2 INTs as a starting corner. Zamel Johnson has 2 tackles for loss and 3 passes broken up. Chris Hutton has an INT.
Special Teams: Cody Booth is the Temple long snapper. Brandon McManus is the punter and kicker. He is averaging 44.4 yards a punt. He's put 13 inside the 10. 10 of his punts have been over 50 yards. McManus is 11-14 on field goals with a long of 50. He's 20-21 on extra points. Matt Brown returns punts and kicks because Temple likes a short depth chart on special teams. Brown took the opening kick back last week against Louisville and is averaging 25.4 yards a kick return. He's averaging a very good 15.9 yards a punt return.
Cincinnati is a 10.5 point favorite.
Temple kicker Brandon McManus needs 8 points to become Temple's all time leading scorer. So something to watch.
In just Big East play, Temple is giving up 33.8 points a game. That's very bad. They are 7th in total defense, which is also very bad. The team who is 8th? Cincinnati.
Temple is awful on offense. In their 5 Big East games, they are totaling 308 yards. They are scoring 19.6 points a game. That's not last because UConn is scoring 8.2 points a game in Big East play. The Owls run the ball decently in terms of yards per game at 184.
This is a matchup of the 2 worst pass defenses and the 2 worst passing offenses going by yards a game. Fun fact.
Temple has given up at least 31 points in a half the last 3 games. Rutgers scored 35 in the second half and Louisville and Pitt scored 31 in the first half.
I expect Cincinnati to win the game rather easily. It might be close for a little bit, but the Bearcats defense should suffocate the Owl offense. Hopefully this will be a fast game.
Cincinnati 38 Temple 13