This camp has been a weird one for the Bearcats from the start. A big reason for that is the later than usual start to the season kicking off on the 12th of September against the Toledo Rockets. In most years the Bearcats start out on campus for a few days before heading out to Indiana. That was not the case this year as UC headed straight for Higher Ground on day one. They returned to Cincinnati for today's big scrimmage, the last one of the camp period.
As per usual Tommy Tuberville is muted about how his team has handled camp.
"Guys have worked hard. It's tough to come out here and totally be away from everything for 14 days, but they've done a good job of it. We've just got to keep putting the touches on what we're doing, because we've got a lot of room for improvement."
That seems dismissive, but that weird schedule is playing a part with this again. This is a team that has huge outside expectations being placed on them. They were the number one pick in the AAC. There are half a dozen guys who made the preseason watch lists for national awards. Some (myself included) are calling this the best group of wide receivers the Bearcats have ever had. Gunner Kiel will finally play college football. The hype for this team is new. In a macro sense that is an immensely positive thing, but the wonky schedule throws everything out of whack.
It means that the coaching staff has to set standards a little bit higher in bridging the gap between now and the Toledo game. Its not a huge issue because the Bearcats are at home and they have more talent than the Rockets do. But Toledo will have played two games before the Cincinnati Bearcats will have run even a single play in anger in 2014. Thats a manageable disadvantage, but it is still a disadvantage.
That's why the Bearcats coaching staff has tended to couch everything in terms of the team needing to get better. That is a constant refrain that you hear from the lot of them, with Tubs being the most persistent in stressing that message. The goal for the staff at this point has to be about bridging the gap between practice and game intensity. There is always a leap in intensity with the first game, the next three weeks will be about making that gap as manageable as possible when game day comes.
Naming a starting quarterback will help with that. Tuberville has said that he could name a starter after today's scrimmage at Paul Brown Stadium. It's not guaranteed to happen today, but it should be. Because there isn't that much more than can be done at this point. The offense isn't going to change dramatically from last year. Whatever big wrinkles they planned on putting in are probably already done.
At this point the staff has three weeks to start calibrating their team for the first game of the season. That is simultaneously a lot of time (relative to everyone else in the country) and not enough time. The sooner Gunner Kiel is named the starter the better off the Bearcats will be come September 12th.