Well we are 17 practices into the 2011 training camp for the Cincinnati Bearcats Football team. UC has the rest of the week left at higher ground. At which point the Bearcats will abandon the higher ground (get it?) and head back to Campus to ramp up preparations for the
Tennessee Volunteers Austin Peay Gov' nahs. So the question is what are the developments to date?
The cop out answer is that I don't know anything for certain. And yes, that is a cop out but it's also the truth. Geographic complications have prevented me from getting down to Higher Ground for a practice. Not that I would be exceedingly likely to gain access being but a humble blogger. But I obviously follow these things closely and I ravenously consume anything and everything Bearcats and I feel kind of comfortable reading between the lines. Don't by any stretch of the imagination, take anything said from here on out as gospel. But there is frustratingly little out there for people who don't subscribe to the pay sites in terms of depth chart movement, players who have impressed ect. So I will try to provide some of that stuff.
Lets start up front. The tentative starting five is
|Alex Hoffman||Randy Martinez||Evan Davis||Austen Bujnoch||Sean Hooey|
Let's leave out the sheer idiocy that is having Alex Hoffman moving over to LT after placing Hooey over there in spring. It's stupid and I know that just installing Hooey at LT and having that position taken care of for the next two season would make much more sense. That's nothing against Hoffman. But he is a natural guard and I do have some concerns about his ability to handle guys like Brandon Lindsey and Bruce Irvin on his own. I have none of those concerns with Hooey. But this is just another hit from Don Mahoney, the same guy who brought you hits like "Starting C.J. Cobb for 12 games"
To me one of the most interesting development is the way that Andre Cureton and Austen Bujnoch are battling it out at the right guard position. I fully expect Bujnoch to win the job but the way that Cureton has impressed this offseason bodes well. This of course leads me to my second development, namely that Randy Martinez has been taking live snaps at Center. Evan Davis's days may be numbered, and Truthfully, it's not that surprising. He has started one game, and it was an unmitigated disaster. and Davis only participated in in 5 games for the rest of the year, and even then only in mop up duty. It was always far more hopeful than realistic to expect Davis to rebound from last year's performance to become a solid starter or contributor. To be honest I would much rather see a starting five of Hoffman, Cureton, Martinez, Bujnoch, Hooey than one with Davis in there. I don't intened to run down Davis, but that lineup gives UC a better chance to produce explosive numbers this year, and it gives UC a solid three man core coming back for 2012 with Cureton, Bujnoch and Hooey ushering in Sam Longo and whoever winds up playing center.
Ostensibly, the backup job is still up for grabs, but I would be surprised to see Jordan Luallen named the backup for the Austin Peay game. In my mind Munchie is the better choice. It seems to me that the biggest knock that people have on Munchie to this point is that he burned his red shirt and played last year at WR. To me that is not a knock on Leagux at all. The biggest adjustment from high school to college for every player, regardless of position is the speed of play which is obviously much faster. By playing at WR last year Leagux got to experience that for himself first hand last year. That in and of itself is invaluable, but playing WR gave Legaux another insight into a deceptively complex offense.
Luallen by all accounts still hasn't exactly perfected his throwing motion and leaves something to be desired with his accuracy. But I think that the biggest thing holding back Luallen is rather simple. He has never had to do what this offense asks him to do. For almost all of his life Luallen has run nothing but the tripple option. That gives me major cause for concern if heaven forbid Zach goes down and a backup has to go out and win a game.
The news here is focused on the young bucks, obviously. Jameel Poteat has more than lived up to his outsized expectations so far. By all accounts he will be Isaiah Pead's primary backup. Shaq Washington is another guy who has impressed. He is rumored to be the fastest and quickest player on the team. Shaq might be at the head of the class among the freshman wide outs, but Alex Chisum and Chris Moore have both gone stripeless recently and are sure to threaten the rotation.
In other receiver news D.J. Woods is moving away from his exclusive slot duty and has worked outside of late. Mike Bajakian plans to move him around a bit to make it harder on defenses. I think this opens things up for Anthony McClung to rule the slot. I also think that is an indication that knocking the rust off Dyjuan Lewis is taking longer than everyone expected.
In Tight End news it is still up in the air. Travis Kelce has picked up a couple of knocks and has spent a few days in the dreaded green jersey. Adrian Robinson still struggles with his consistency and has thrown open the door for Blake Annen who was the most consistent guy in the spring and has carried that right into fall camp. Annen looks like he has filled out and will stand up better in blocking.
The last two things are that 1) George Winn seems likely to take over the pseudo fullback/H-Back roll when UC goes two backs in the shotgun. That was the role that John Goebel took over for the Oklahoma game. 2) Akise Teague has been out for almost the entirety of the higher ground sojourn. That is dissapointing to me because I think Teague is a guy who I thought would have good first year.
Not much going on here. Things have played out almost exactly as I expected them to. The only news is that Cameron Beard seems to have made the tradition to a full time DT. All of the freshman are expected to redshirt, but Brandon Mitchell and Silverberry Mouhon have deeply impressed the coaching staff.
Maalik Bomar and J.K. Schaffer are the rocks everyone is expecting them to be. It seems the most likely candidate to take over the Sam job is Ben Pooler. But there are still questions about his health. He's a guy who simply could not stay healthy at Maryland and is an ongoing risk here because of that.
Speaking of injuries Solomon Tentman is a go according to Paul Dehner. He could wind up wresting the third job from Pooler. Dwight Jackson and Nick Temple are going to be backups this year. Temple still seems to be the one who is a little bit more advanced to me, but the adjustment to playing inside is going to be different for him.
Greg Blair is still off the official roster at this point and he didn't make an appearance at media day. My guess? His transcript is having a hell of a time getting through the clearinghouse and he isn't taking part at camp right now. Walk on Clemente Cassius is a guy who has really impressed the staff to date and could make an impact like the departed (from the team, not the earth) Antwan Darling did last year.
If nothing else there is no shortage of options. Safety is still a concern of mine. Even more so because Drew Frey and Wesley Richardson are, at this point, likely to retain their collective jobs. How that can even be possible is beyond me. This was the worst safety pairing in the Big East and arguably the country last year. But both will likely sit atop the depth chart when UC kicks off against Austin Peay. That is a proposition that is too depressing to consider so I will move on.
At corner there is no shortage of talent, and UC is bringing back three guys who have started a season in Dominique Battle, Reuben Johnson and Cameron Cheatham. But Deven Drane has shocked a lot of people and could very well be starting come next Saturday. I for one am fine with that. I think that he was one of the only bright spots in the secondary down the stretch. He made mistakes, sure but I really liked his aggresiveness and his recovery speed. It doesn't hurt things one bit that he moves almost exactly how Mike Mickens moved.
There are two bits of news regarding special teams. One is that a kicker has yet to be settled on, though Tony Miliano seems to be close to ending the contest. The other news, and the headline grabber, is that Isaiah Pead will probably be returning some kicks. On the face of it this is a huge risk, after all Pead is the most explosive player this offense has at it's disposal, and the kickoff is the single most dangerous play in a given game of Football. But UC's field position blew last year and that is something that has to be addressed. I don't want Pead taking every return, but a rotation of D.J. Woods, Pead, Ralph David Abernathy IV and maybe Akise Teauge if he can ever get over his hamstring issue would do the job capably.