Ralph David Abernathy IV Will Be An X Factor For The Cincinnati Bearcats

Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Ralph David Abernathy IV is the key man in the Bearcats offensive attack. His versatility enables Mike Bajakian to target defenses in very specific ways.

Through two games Ralph Abernathy IV has 260 total yards, on 22 touches with two TD's. He is averaging 11.8 yards per play in total, 8.7 on plays from scrimmage. He is becoming the home run hitter that Mike Bajakian needs in his offense, and he will almost certainly need to hit one on Saturday.

This isn't a vintage Virginia Tech team on defense. They haven't exactly met the lofty standards set by previous editions. Its still a defense capible of making the big play, but they can be had, and exploited, particularly in pass coverage.

The Hokies have big, physical linebackers, and they want to play down hill. Bruce Taylor (6'4" 244), Jack Tyler (6'1" 236) excel at the point of attack in the run game. Taylor is also a devastating blitzer . But, they can be isolated in coverage, and exploited, particularly by smaller, quicker offensive players.

That is why my goal, were I to be Mike Bajakian, would be to create scenarios where Abernathy, or even Anthony McClung or Shaq Washington in a pinch, are matched up against those linebackers. It doesn't really matter if the Hokies are playing zone or man. I want those match ups, because it is something that those linebackers will struggle with, and its a quick, safe way to make easy yards.

Against Pitt, that was one of the ways that the Bearcats attacked the Panthers. They put guys like Shane Gordon and Eric Williams in situations where they have to cover the Bearcats smaller, quicker slot receivers and RDA4 in space. For the most part the Panthers played zone, but when they went man the Bearcats worked them underneath.

Taylor and Tyler are the mainstays at linebacker, but the match up the Hokies want is for their SPUR, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow to have the match up with Abnerthy, McClung, and the seemingly endless reels of similarly proportioned players on the Bearcats roster. That is the chess match to keep an eye on here.

Through two games RDA4 is averaging 9.5 touches from scrimmage a game, so call it 10. Of those 10 touches the distribution is nearly even between rushes and receptions, 4 receptions, 6 rushes. But that can flip from week to week. Against Pitt Abernathy was targeted five times, out of 28 total attempts, and that was because Bajakian liked the match up of Abernathy in the slot. Against Delaware State Abernathy was targeted three times, out of 20 attempts, but he had a career high 7 rushes for 50 yards.

My suspicion is that this year Bajakian will use RDA4 to target areas of the opposing defense that can be exploited in the run game, or in coverage. Thats a smart move for the professor. The move on Saturday will be to put Abernathy is match ups with those linebackers.

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