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Cincinnati Bearcats Football Schedule First Look: Northwestern State

For the 8th straight year the Cincinnati Bearcats have an FCS opponent on the schedule. Last season, (and hopefully only for last season), the Bearcats had two such buy games on the docket. This year there is only one, Northwestern State.

The Basics

Name Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Location Natchitoches, Louisiana
Head Coach Jay Thomas
Career Record 27-35
2012 Record 4-7

2012 In Four Sentences Or Less

The Demons, who play in the Southland Conference, had one of the toughest schedules among FCS teams a year ago. They played an AQ school, (Texas Tech) a traditional non AQ power (Nevada) and Sam Houston State, (A program that is turning into the Buffalo Bills of the FCS) and they lost all three. NSU was a .500 team heading into November, but they dropped their last three contests and Bradley Dale Peveto lost his job. Jay Thomas, former Demons assistant and Nicholls State head coach, was named to the top job in December.

Who Is Coming Back?

The Demons return 16 players who started the final game of the season against Stephen F. Austin, and a further 11 players who started at least one game. Not among them is last year’s starting QB Brad Henderson who exhausted his eligibility. The leading candidates to replace Henderson are Grant Chiasson and Daniel Hazelwood. Also gone is playmaker in chief Phillip Harvey who, from what I can tell, made plays like this on the regular.

The story is similar on the defensive side of the ball. A fair number of starters return, but the holes that need to be filled are rather large. The top two play makers are year ago, linebacker Derrick Rose and safety Jamaal White are gone to graduation leaving big holes in production, but also in leadership as both were multi year starters. The Demons do have some experienced players coming back. DT Lesley Deamer*, DE Cornist Broadway, and Linebackers Patrick Black and Tyler Smith are all three year letter winners, but the leadership position has to be a new one. Black in particular will have to become the leader of the group based on production if nothing else.

* Deamer is probably the best pro prosepct on the NSU team. He is 6'2" and 310 or so with good athletic ability. He will get some long looks from the scouts and probably has a chance to get drafted late with a good season. See for yourself.

What Will They Run?

For Thomas's first time round at Nicholls State they were a team that ran the triple option on offense, but primarily out of the I which is a bit different in this era of Football. On Defense they were a predominately 4-3 defense. Defensively the 4-3 is likely to rule the day again under defensive coordinator Chris Boone who was previously at Jacksonville State.

Offensively everything will change. Robby Brown is the Demon's new offensive coordinator, and he comes to Louisiana after spending the last four years at Valdosta State. Like every coach at Valdosta State since Mike Leach and Hal Mumme came to town, Brown and head coach David Dean ran some variant of the Air Raid. It is not the classical Air Raid, there is more emphasis on the running game, but all the hits are still there. Last year the Valdosta State Blazers won their third national championship.

Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do

This is an AQ vs FCS match up. But this is still an interesting game, even if Vegas is unlikely to publish a line on it. The Bearcats are bigger, faster and better across the board. The style of offense that Northwestern State is likely to play means that however large the lead, it will never quite feel safe. Its a game the Bearcats should win, and win comfortably, but then again I said the same things about Fordham and Delaware State. Both wound up in the win column, neither ever felt comfortable.