This is the second part of the Bearcat Bloggers round table with Scott King from Bearcats Blog and Chris Bains from Bearcats Nation. Part one is on offer here, part two here. Today Scott is the one asking the questions
Scott King: since Matt asked about the surprises, what has been a disappointment to you this season?
me: It's though to hone in on a single guy but I guess it would be Maalik Bomar. Bomar had a great year last season registering 70 stops, 8 TFL, a couple sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. All in all great production from a first year starter. But this year his production had really tailed off, just 12 tackles through,.5 TFL and the fumble return TD through 5 games. The caveat to that is that the defensive line has been so good that a lot of runs don't get past the first level defenders. That factored in I still expected a little bit more from Bomar this year.
Chris Bains: Hands down Walter Stewart. Since the Bearcats started winter workouts so many months ago, Stewart was the most hyped player on the roster because he both added 15 lbs of pure muscle and was going to be on the line permanently this season. Not to mention he had 3 'sacks' in the Bearcat Bowl. But in five games he's only recorded 3 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumbled, and has yet to record a sack. He's en route to having one of his worst seasons statistically as a Bearcat. Overall he's just not getting the pressure and push that Giordano on the other side of the line and quite frankly Monte Taylor and Brandon Mills are surpassing him on the field right now. It's really disappointing and I hope Stewart breaks out of this slump, soon. Maybe he needs to get a Twitter account. I'm just sayin'.
SK: Special teams seem to always be a step above disaster. Are they going to cost UC a game? What could be done to fix them?
me: Tony Miliano is a first year starter so the place kicking aspect was always bound and determined to an adventure at best. I think Miliano has done very well 6 of 8 on field goals and 24 of 26 on PAT's. Yes, he has had a few blocked but overall I am happy with Miliano as the kicker. The punt unit has among the best in the nation, Pat O'Donnell is looking like the second coming of Kevin Huber and RDA4 has very quietly staked his claim as one of the best returners in the Big East as a freshman. I have been very happy with the Special Teams thus far, they are exceeding my expectations
CB: The shakiest area on special teams coming into this season has place kicker but, as Matt said, Miliano has been pretty consistent filling in for the ginormous shoes of Jake Rogers. However he hasn't been put into pressure situations this season as the Bearcats have been either blowing out teams or gotten blown out themselves (Tennessee). There's probably one or two good opportunities for that this year (WVU, Pitt) in which the game might come down to a final field goal. It remains to be seen if Miliano has the cahones to nail that kick. I'd say by-and-large the Bearcats special teams has been pretty solid. O'Donnell is an All-American punter, Ralph Abernathy is a block away from breaking a return for a touchdown, and overall I thought the coverage has been good.
SK: Since those questions were pretty negative, what do you think the chances are that UC can win the Big East?
me: From what I have seen of the conference, and the way the tiebreakers work in the Big East. UC definitely has a punchers chance with West Virginia coming to Cincinnati. But the two games that will determine the importance of that game are going to USF and to Pitt. Obviously it would be best to sweep those two games, but a split might be enough to turn WVU's trip to the Queen City into one of the defining moments of the Big East season. West Virginia is the overwhelming favorite to win the league, and they rightfully should be. But they don't play complete games and UC as a team is dangerous enough to exploit the 15 minute lapses that have plagued the Mountaineers all year.