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The Big Down The Drive Bearcats Preview

We are now a little under 24 hours from the Bearcats season opening contest with the Toledo Rockets. Because it has been such a long time in coming we here at Down The Drive have been able to spend a bit more time than usual going over the minutia of this Bearcats season. All of which can now be found in one place, this place.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Leifheit - USA Today Sports

The class of 2014 will always be remembered by those who follow Bearcat recruiting for one simple reason, it was the first class that had Tuberville in charge from beginning to end. With that first class you can begin to tell exactly what the staff is looking for in a player. With Brian Kelly they were looking for long, lanky athletes that could add big weight to their frames and move down to the lines. Think of guys like Walter Stewart, Derek Wolfe and Sean Hooey. With Butch Jones his first full class revealed his love for smaller players who can kill defenses in space with their speed and short area quickness. Think Shaq Washington and Ralph David Abernathy IV. With Tubs first class the obvious through line is the immense size of the defensive backs in the class. Alex Thomas, Davon Witherspoon and J.J. Pinckney are all projected to corner and they are all massive for the position with their height and length. The safeties in the class in Carter Jacobs and Tyrell Gilbert are both short in comparison, even though both are listed at 6'0" or above. The size of these young DB's is the thing that will stick out when we look back at this class in two or three years. The Bearcats have the makings of a very physical secondary not only this year, but beyond that.

Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports

When Bearcat fans first got a look at the schedule for this year the response was lukewarm from some sectors of the Bearcats fanbase. As the first two weeks of the season have rolled along that schedule has taken another hit. Expected non conference heavyweights like Ohio State and Miami have looked eminently beatable. Most thought Toledo would be the class of the MAC, but the beatdown by Mizzou has put a damper on that. Even in the conference Houston has been underwhelming, and ECU a bit one dimensional for my taste. All of which means that the Bearcats are going to have to fight for respect even harder than usual. The upside of that is that the Bearcats have the potential for a truly special run if they get the right breaks. That is a big if, but it is almost certainly within play for the 2014 Bearcats.

Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

In any and every season there will be surprise performances from unexpected corners, and expected production from somewhat known quantities that comes out of nowhere and shocks us fans. A great example from recent history was Evan Davis who was so bad against Logan Harrell and Fresno State that he lost his job before that game even ended. Davis rebounded big time in 2011 earning all conference honors and being a steadying force for a young offensive line. Those kind of turnarounds happen each and every year, but you never can be completely sure where they are coming from. Without watching every minute of every practice it can be impossible to tell how any given player will be deployed within the system. With that in mind here are five wild off the cuff guesses as to who the Bearcats X factors will be in 2014. Probably none of them will be right.

Andrew Weber - USA Today Sports

For years the Bearcats have been thought of as a hurry up no huddle team. That image stems from the Brian Kelly era when UC was a team that did hurry it up relative to their peers. But as teams around the country have gotten faster and faster the Bearcats have slowed down more and more. At least until Eddie Gran took the reigns. Last years Bearcats ran more plays than ever before in the spread era, but that number is deceiving. Regardless all signs point to the Bearcats really revving their engines in 2014.

Jim O'Connor - USA Today Sports

Its not hard to figure out what the most important position group is for the Bearcats, its defensive tackle. Every single member of last years rotation is gone, and the Bearcats are starting over at the position. But there is early hope for the Bearcats being able to hold serve at the spot in 2014.