Cincinnati returns to action this Saturday in pursuit of its fourteenth consecutive Victory Bell against longtime rival Miami (Ohio). Miami enters the game with a 1-1 mark, having defeated Tennessee Tech 48-17 yesterday and falling to Iowa 38-14. Miami went 6-6 last season under Chuck Martin, who has righted the Redhawks program slowly but surely since taking over in 2014.
The Redhawks have shown noteworthy offensive prowess in their first two games, led by freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of former Missouri standout and NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
The younger Gabbert is smaller than his brother, standing just 6’0 tall, He also lacks the arm strength of his older brother. But Brett Gabbert has shown himself to be an accurate passer who is poised in the pocket. In his college debut, Gabbert went a solid 17 for 27 for 186 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception against a sturdy Hawkeyes defense and a racuous Iowa City crowd.
Last week, Gabbert looked solid in his one half of action against Tennessee Tech, posting 152 yards while completing 10 of 17 attempts. Thus far, Gabbert’s top receiver has been junior Dominque Robinson, who played sparingly in 2018, but has the look of an NFL receiver. Robinson is a tight end in a wide receiver’s body, standing 6’4 and weighing in at 235 pounds. He will be a tough matchup for UC’s secondary, which lacks competitive size with Robinson.
Thus far, Miami has been doing running back-by-committee with noteworthy success. The Redhawks lost their top three rushers from a year ago but have thus far weathered the storm. Converted wide receiver Tyre Shelton is proving himself to be an elusive runner, especially outside of the tackle box. Junior running back Zach Kahn is proving himself to be a force between the tackles.
Bolstering Miami’s rushing attack is a veteran offensive line which returns four starters from a year ago. Senior center Danny Godlevske was named to the preseason All-MAC first team.
On the defensive side of the ball, Miami has more question marks than answers. Thus far, the team has generated little in the way of a push rush, garnering just one quarterback sack. Defensive tackle Doug Costin is a hoss in the middle of the defensive front but the remainder of D-Line and linebacker corps lacks experience. The secondary has a bit more experience but showed little in the way of success against Iowa, enabling Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley to conduct a veritable air raid on the Redhawks.
Cincinnati has the opportunity to score plenty of points against Miami on Saturday afternoon. The biggest question the Bearcats face is whether or not they can shut down a thus far impressive Redhawks offense.