I picked up a copy of Phil Steele's annual ode to the sport we all love today and there were some interesting conclusions drawn by Senor Steele about this teeam. For a start he thinks that the Bearcats are going to rebound in a very big way. I will go ahead and quote him here.
For a good portion of April I thought I was going to pick the Bearcats at number 1 in the Big East. They have a lot of factors pointing to their improvement...
The factors that weigh in the Bearcats favor are relatively numerous. For a start it is the 2nd year of the Butch Jones era, and that almost always means a measured improvement. Even in the transition from year 1 to year 2 of Brian Kelly there was a big jump. There was only 1 more win, 11 compared with 10, but the team performed at a much higher level in 2008. This kind of ties in with that but the coaching continuity is also. After three years of three defensive coordinators and three different systems UC is returning it's DC(s) for the first time since 2008. But the biggest thing in favor of UC is actually the turnover margin.
It is counter intuitive to think that a team that was -15 in turnover margin, which was 119th out of 120 teams, a season ago can view that as a positive thing. But it's true. Statistically speaking there is almost no correlation at all between turnover margin from one year to the next. In fact more often than not the teams at the bottom of that chart see big turnarounds for the team one season later. Look at Miami (OH). In 2009 they were -24 in turnover margin, dead last nationally and went 1-11 as a result. Last year the Redhawks were +11, which was among the elite in the country.
On top of those UC has a ton of experience returning this year, particularly on defense. I have been hammering this point home to anyone that I talk to about Football. College Football isn't like Basketball where you can plug in a highly regarded group of players and keep rolling. Experience matters and UC has a ton of it this year. That is not to say that I am anti Freshman. In fact I am very pro Freshman playing, because in the long run it helps, in the short term it's a mixed bag. This is a point that all UC fans should know by now. Think back to 2005 when UC played it's first season in the Big East fielding the youngest team among the BCS conferences, 7 Freshman started on defense alone that year. Those guys struggled that first year, but they became the backbone of the team and as they got older the wins started to pile up; 7 in 2006, 10 in 2007 and 11 and a conference championship in 2008.
What does this all mean? Hard to tell, while Steele is without a doubt the smartest guy doing this stuff he has been wrong about teams before. You have to take it was a grain of salt. While Steele views UC as a legit challenger for a third Big East championship, I still have my reservations about, but I think, and have thought for a while that the possibility of a big rebound is there. Personally I expect this team to win 7 or 8 games with an outside chance for 9.
- He has Jordan Luallen winning the backup QB job over Munchie Legaux
- Jameel Poteat over Darrin Williams as Pead's back up
- Adrian Robinson over Travis Kelce as the TE starter
- Tony Miliano as kicker
- Austen Bujnoch
- Brandon Mills starting at defensive end. Not happening, that spot is Walter Stewart's
- Speaking of Walt has him listed as the back up to Dan Giordano, because it makes so much sense for a coaching staff to put their two best ends at the same position.
- Malcolm Murray over Wesley Richardson
- Chris Williams nowhere to be found on the two deep either at Corner or Safety
- Zach Collaros as the #26 ranked QB
- Isaiah Pead #6 RB
- D.J. Woods as #21 WR
- ALex Hoffman #21 OT
- Derek Wolfe as #14 DT
- J.K. Schaffer as #19 MLB
- Walt as #35 OLB
- Drew Frey as #44 SS
- Pat O'Donnell as #11 P