The Bearcats 2011 season kicks off roughly 27 hours from the moment that I am composing this post. Austin Peay sucks, but I am still ridiculously excited for the season to start. I am ready. I really wish that UC didn't move this game to Saturday and kept it on Thursday. Anyways here are the things that I am watching for tomorrow.
I have a ton of faith in J.K. Schaffer and Maalik Bomar at the position, and I like the options that are arrayed behind those guys. Ben Pooler can be a big time asset if he can stay healthy. The young guys have impressed everyone and should contribute. But there are lingering questions with this unit. The depth is light years beyond last years group, but a lack of depth wasn't the only problem last year. The run fits in particular was terrible. Austin Peay isn't a good team, but the way they try to play the game will help to determine if the linebackers are at the very least strategically sound.
Wide Receiver Depth
Kenbrell Thompkins and D.J. Woods are basically known quantities. Anthony McClung got quite a bit of run last year and is close to that level. But every one else is kind of a blank slate. There is a ton of talent, a ton of young talent at that. All three Freshman are expected to play, assuming that Chris Moore has a normal recovery period for his shoulder injury. This is going to be a game where Shaq Washington and Alex Chisum get a ton of playing time and those two are guys you need to keep an eye on.
I am far more bullish on the Offensive Line as a whole than the vast majority of Bearcat fans are. Down the stretch these guys weren't terrible, they weren't great but they were good enough. The only guys among the starting five that I am not high on is Evan Davis. Austin Peay has two young, green defensive tackles starting tomorrow. Davis has to dominate in this game. It will be the only time all season where he is going to have a distinct size/strength advantage. If he gets played to a standstill that could be bad, bad news.
Ralph David Abernathy IV
Abernathy is slated to return kicks this year. One of the low key low points for the Bearcats last year was just how bad the return game was. That has nothing at all to do with D.J. Woods and his fumble issues, more to do with Woods inability to flip field position. Abernathy is a lithe, explosive dude and UC needs him to be explosive in the return game.
The Young Bucks
Eight True Freshman are expected to play tomorrow night. Some of them, like Abernathy, Washington and Chisum have been mentioned above. But I am going to be keeping a close eye on the whole lot of them. I think Jameel Poteat is going to get a lot of run in the second half.