The defense is currently ahead of the offense. That is almost a given at this point in the process, particularly with a new coach. Unless you are Dana Holgorsen, the simple act of installing a defense is simpler than installing an offense. There are a handful of coverages that every team has, coverages that most of the players have been running, to one degree or another, since they were pre teens. The offense, this offense as much as any other, requires more time and more reps to get right. Timing matters in installing an offense, and timing only develops with time. Thats what summers spent running routes are for.
- The Bearcats will have a very, very good group of linebackers this year. No one has really been talking about this, but it would seem to be the case. Jeff Luc has lived up to the hype thus far, Greg Blair has dropped 15 pounds since January and could make a run at All America honors. Nick Temple is somehow still forgotten, despite going on a tear averaging 6.2 tackles per game over the last five and coming up with a ton of big plays against UConn and Duke. Off the bench you have Solomon Tentman to provide some crucial depth. This group is the best in the Big East, maybe not by a wide margin, but the best.
- Those linebackers are one explanation for why the running game has been grounded for most of spring. Through the two scrimmages for which UC has published stats the Bearcats have run the ball 69 times for 304 yards, 3 TD's and a 4.4 average. That production behind a proven offensive line that returns 4 starters (RT Parker Ehringer is out with a knee injury).
Anthony McClung seems to be on track to finally break out in his final year with the Bearcats. He has been uncover able this spring. Which is good, because the other WR spots are in flux at the moment. Max Morrison, Shaq Washington, Jeremey Graves and Chris Moore have all had their moments, but the consistency has been lacking.
- At tight end Blake Annen appears to be the best bet for starting on opening day. He is an experienced guy who has been around since 2010. He does the little things right. But D.J. Dowdey is the future, and it might come sooner rather than later. Dowdey showed out in the first scrimmage with 4 catches for 51 yards and a TD. He is the heir apparent to the Bearcats recent TE tradition.
- The secondary has two spots that are on lock. Deven Drane will start at one corner and Arryn Chenault at safety. The other two spots are wide open. Kevin Brown saw significant playing time as a true freshman and would definitely have the leg up at the other safety spot if Lyle was still around. But Drake Bruns, Marcus Foster and Andre Jones are all getting a lot of reps. Trenier Orr, and Darren Dotson appear to be the main combatants for the second corner spot. In my head I have Adrian Witty penciled in at nickle, that's probably only in my head.
- Finally the quarterbacks. It seems unlikely that a starter will be named at the conclusion of spring practice, but by most accounts it will probably be Brendon Kay who has looked much more consistent in practice. Munchie Leguax is still around, in theory, but its hard to ignore just how much the offense improved once Kay was inserted as a starter. Looking at the scrimmage stats, which are a poor way to project anything, Munchie has still not found a way to modify his boom or bust ways. In the two scrimmages Munchie has completed 15 of 31 passes, (47 per cent), for 250 yards (8.1 yards per completion), with 1 TD and 2 INT's. If you can see an improvement comparing those numbers to last seasons seek immediate help.
- While Kay has quietly gone about solidifying the job, (whatever Eddie Gran or Tommy Tuberville say in public), the real star of the spring has probably been Bennie Coney. The word coming out of fall camp last year was that of the two Floridian red shirt quarterbacks Dayton Beach's Trenton Norvell was ahead of Plant City's, Coney. Of the two Coney has more raw talent but he was really, well, raw. Coney used his season well and seems to have obliterated the gap between himself and Norvell. Through the two scrimmages Coney has completed 17 of 24 attempts (71 per cent) for 289 yards (12 yards per attempt) with 3 TD's and 0 INT's, all of which are tops among quarterbacks. But more than that its his feel for the game that has made a great leap forward.
Catching Up On The Cincinnati Bearcats Spring Practice
Its hard to believe, but the Bearcats have already put 12 spring practices in the books. The open practice is scheduled for Saturday, and for the first time in a couple years the sun appears likely to shine. No better time than now to get up to speed on what has transpired so far.
By Matt Opper