Dominate At The Point Of Attack
In a lot of ways Bowls Games can be very similar to NBA playoff series. Yes Bowl Games are one game shots where literally anything can happen. But in one game scenarios having one unit that is vastly superior to the rest can be a major advantage for the team in possession of that advantage. That's the Cincinnati Defensive Line in this game, easily the best position group on either team with a massive advantage against a Vanderbilt Offensive Line that has struggled mightily.
In 2011 the Commodores have surrendered 89 Tackles For Loss and 26 Sacks. In rolls the Bearcats who lead the nation in both categories. One idea that I have heard over and over again is that the Vanderbilt O-Line is better suited to deal with Derek Wolfe, John Hughes and Co. because they play in the SEC. I have heard this numerous times, from multiple sources and it overlooks something. Most SEC defenses would kill for a defensive line that played as hard and made as many plays as UC's does. The defensive line goes 9 deep, has a lot of versatility thanks to Walter Stewart and everyone makes plays. The Bearcats have an SEC caliber defensive line. Nothing else on the defense is, but that D-Line is. It goes without saying that Vanderbilts offensive line was overwhelmed in SEC play. They have seen groups like UC's before, they just haven't done particularly well against those units.
Grind Out Drives
This is obviously not the forte of the UC offense which has lived on big plays for most of the season The key to this is obviously Isaiah Pead because he is the only consistent big play generator on the team. And it is going to have to be Pead on the ground because the Vanderbilt secondary does a great job against the deep ball (For what its worth the Vandy secondary doesn't really try to take away intermediate routes). But the Vanderbilt defensive line isn't all that consistent. They give up plenty of big runs (56th nationally in runs of 10+ yards allowed), but not the big one. That 50 yard sprint that has become the forte of the iPead. Pead, and to a lesser extent Collaros need to be content to work the ball slowly down the field. This Vandy defense will give up some drives in the course of the game. Needless to say it's important to capitalize on those opportunities.
The question mark is obvious. Practices have been close for the second half of the week and Collaros has not been available to the media at all this week. He has been given the start and cleared to play and all that. But no one, not even Zach, really and truly knows what kind of performance he is capable of in this game. If he is 100 per cent and playing like the old Zach I think that UC will win, maybe not handily, but by 7 or 10 points or something. If Zach's health is in a suboptimal state the Bearcats still can win, but its a taller order.
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Lets Go B earcats!