There was a lot of negativity Saturday night after the Bearcats lost to South Florida. I'm not excluding myself from the negativity. College football is the most emotional sport. You play the shortest schedule with the most importance hinged on every game. It takes one game to get eliminated from the national title race. It takes one loss to get eliminated from the conference title race. This could have been that game for Cincinnati. Even if they beat Louisville, they don't get a crack at UCF. UCF could run the table. UCF could lose once. One loss for both teams goes to a BCS rating tiebreaker. That's one UC is certain to lose. Especially after losing to lowly South Florida. Their conference title fate is out of their hands after the first game.
There is a difference between being down after a loss and being down on the team however. No one from fans to players to coaches could have been happy with what happened Saturday night. This doesn't mean the season is over. It doesn't mean that people stop caring. I hope that there is a nice crowd Friday night when Cincinnati kicks Temple's ass on ESPN. I don't like Tommy Tuberville that much, but I love Cincinnati. You love Cincinnati or at least have a passing interest if you read the blog. We watch because that's our squad and we can't help it but root them on. And root them on we shall.
Everyone, including yours truly, has pointed this season towards November 16 and December 5. The very short sided part of this is that there were a lot of games before that. Looking at the schedule was Northwestern State, Miami, South Florida, Temple, UConn, Memphis, SMU, all lousy teams. I looked past all of these teams to the Rutgers game. It was really hard for me to get excited about South Florida.
Without knowing what was going on with the team, it seemed like UC played with the same lack of excitement to start the game. That quickly resulted in 'Oh shit, it's 10-0' halfway through the first quarter. The hole ended up being too deep. UC couldn't rally in time. The problem with sleep walking is that sometimes you can't wake up in time to avoid falling down the stairs. UC fell down the stairs.
Cincinnati's defense is one of the best in the country. I truly believe that. They held USF to 241 yards. The Bulls had two scoring drives where they moved more than 50 yards. They gave up 12 points. Hell they gave up 9 points because 3 of the points came right off an INT. They are excellent. They had one bad game, or half really, against Illinois. That's been the only time they have been vulnerable. If Temple is going to beat UC on Friday, it's not going to be because they scored a lot on them. Teams have to get points other ways against UC.
Which is exactly what South Florida did. The Bulls scored points on special teams. The Bulls scored points on defense. Their only two TDs came in unconventional ways, which seems to be how upset losses come. The blocked field goal came off a turnover. The fumble recovery for a score came off a weird play call at the 10. There seems to be some sort of lack of urgency.
And everyone knows it. Post game quotes from Tommy Tuberville:
We didn't start playing, especially on the offensive side of the ball, until about the middle of the third quarter.
We just haven't gotten much better, we haven't gotten much more physical on the offensive line.
Not much leadership on the offensive line.
And Greg Blair:
We just need everyone to do their job. We have a lot of people not doing their job on every play. The plays that they’re not doing their job, it’s killing us.
The best cure for something like that is a short week and a home game. I would be shocked if the Bearcats didn't come out fast and angry. Friday night is the halfway point of the season. It's time to kick it up a notch.
Cincinnati has played 4 games against FBS teams. They've scored in the first quarter in 0 of them.
They've scored 13 first half points in three road games.
Brendon Kay started the game off very slow. He ended up coming on very strong. He was 24-36 for 240 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. He did this after being hit so hard in the first half that he could hardly breathe. The team doctors wanted to pull him at halftime. He showed a ton of heart. I'm glad he's on our team.
You saw Tuberville's quote about the offensive line above. Parker Ehinger got called for 15 yards of penalties in back to back plays. They were not very good and it showed in the running game. UC averaged 3.3 yards a carry. USF had given up under 4 yards a carry only once this year. It didn't help matters that RDA was reportedly sick to his stomach Saturday night. He had 5 touches for 43 yards. He was the leading rusher with 4 carries for 38 yards. There were no holes for anyone to go. Kay was constantly pressured. The change of Sam Longo to center helped stabilize things. But it was too little too late.
People chirped all game that Tion Green should play. People were also chirping other things, but this one turned out to be a good call because Tion Green looked damn good. Especially late in the game. He got a chance and he cracked the Bulls defense. He finished with 8 carries for 30 yards, but his last few carries went for most of those yards. 3 headed monster? I think so.
Anthony McClung was healthy and played great. He had a team high 8 grabs for 90 yards. Shaq Washington also had a nice follow up to his big game last week with 5 catches for 48 yards.
Chris Moore did not have the best of games unfortunately. He had 17 yards. He had the fumble for the USF score. He had a deep pass go right through his hands. Those things happen. Bounce back, one five.
Mekale McKay had 2 TDs, including a very nice catch on his 22 yard reception. He was a red zone threat. He's got a big frame and could be a very dangerous weapon. The more reps he gets, the better he's going to be. I mean with the team overall, not just in games. He's better now than he was in week one.
Hosey Williams had 7 carries for 16 yards. He had a lot of success to start his UC career. Let's see how he bounces back after his first set back.
Nick Temple had a team high 8 tackles and a sack. His great start has continued. How can you be anything but impressed with the play of 43?
Greg Blair had 7 tackles. Adam Dempsey had a sack. Jeff Luc forced a fumble and recovered it. Brad Harrah had 2 tackles for loss. The defense played well.
Tony Miliano and the field goal team have not had a good two games. After missing a couple of kicks against Miami, his first attempt was blocked. And everyone stood around while USF took the ball and started running. It looked like they weren't going after it at least. I don't want to dog effort since everyone tries hard. Just going by what the replay showed.
Oh then Miliano missed an extra point. Sigh.
That was not helped out by the fact Marvin Kloss was 4-4 on field goals, including a 52 yarder, as he became the American Special Teams POTW. Congrats to Marvin Kloss. Like a Kloss.
Mark Joyce of USF had 2 INTs. He also had 7 tackles, 1 for a loss. He is pretty good.
USF lost their starting quarterback Steven Bench and their best offensive player Marcus Shaw in the first quarter. UC still couldn't beat them. That's discouraging.
John Lloyd had a great game. Two punts for 115 yards. Sure, one of them was a touchback, but he looked solid.
Still don't know why Tubs called the timeout before the onside kick. Probably will not know. Someone ask him tomorrow, media people that don't read this but I'm pretending they will.
Well, we move on from USF. It's all we can do. Cincinnati looks for their first American conference win Friday night. They would have the best home record in the history of the league if they beat Temple. Which would help cover up the worst record in the history of the American that they currently share with the other teams who are 0-1. Onward and upward.
First photo via
Cincinnati photos via