3 Reasons Why the Bearcats Will be American Athletic Conference Champions

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Look for excitement as well as challenges for this for this squad in 2014

1. Growth With Leadership

Like everything in life, things get better the more you work at it; the same goes in the sports world. This is exactly the case with Head Coach Tommy Tubberville. After finishing 9-4 in his first year at the helm, look for the Bearcats to make big strides in 2014. Another season under the belt will mean more time for players learn the ins and outs of the schemes and continue to lay down the building blocks of the program. Traditionally, programs make the most progress from year one to year two. If this is any foresight, then great things are in store for the Bearcat program.

2. Defense, Defense, Defense

A unit that finished 54th in the NCAA in total defense will be much improved. Two promising stats that help the Bearcats are finishing 14th in both scoring defense and 3rd down conversions percentage. Getting key stops as well as creating points on this side of the ball should continue to be a strong point for this defense. Taking charge in 2014 will be linebacker Nick Temple who lead the team in tackles for loss with 13.5 along side his 80 tackles. Losing talent up front like Jordan Stepp will be hard to replace. Look for Brandon Mitchell and newcomers to the rotation like Alex Pace to fill those spots and continue the UC tradition of stellar play in the trenches. Though a defensive coordinator has yet to be named, look for this hungry and experienced group to bring the noise

3. Gunner Kiel Becomes a Star

UC may have a star in the making in quarterback Gunner Kiel. The now sophomore signal caller had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules when he made the leap from Notre Dame. As a highly touted all-american recruit, Kiel was one of the most sought out players in his class and had offers from just about every school in the country. Praised for his accuracy and decision making, Kiel made his commitment to Notre Dame as an early enrollee. His freshman season though, Kiel found himself buried on a deep Notre Dame depth chart that eventually made its way to the BCS National Championship and Kiel out of the door. Now at UC, this talented quarterback has a fresh start with a program in its’ second season looking for a leader on offense.

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