Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Big East 2010-Cincinnati Bearcats
2009 Record: 12-1 (7-0)
Head Coach: Butch Jones (1st season...27-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bajakian (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Brad Lambert (3rd season)
2009 Bowl Game: Sugar Bowl, Lost to Florida 51-24
Offense: The offense scored 24 points or more in all 13 games last season. Tony Pike is gone at QB, but unlike the others in the conference, the replacement is no drop off at all from where the team was a year ago. Zach Collaros has never lost a game as a starting QB. Not in high school, and not in 4 games last season while Pike was hurt. Collaros is a demon in the pocket, but is just as dangerous scrambling and running. He should be fun to watch, as the offense won't change a lick under new HC Butch Jones and OC Mike Bajakian. Mardy Gilliard is also gone at WR, but the group of Armon Binns, Vidal Hazelton, and DJ Woods should be phenomenal in 2010. TE Ben Guidugli (brother of former QB Gino) is a fine receiver as well, and is a pre-season AA. Three starters return on the line, and both new starters should be upper classmen.
Defense: The scheme will change to a 4-3 this season, and Jones has promised to spend more time with his unit in 2010 than former coach Brian Kelly did. The defense finished last in the conference in 2009, and in order to attempt to repeat as champs, they'll have to be better. Derek Wolfe (DT) is the lone returnee up front, while LB Dorian Davis is the lone senior starting on defense, and he is not a returning starter from last season. Drew Frey lines up at SS, and is expected to be a leader with this young group of players. Improvement must come from everywhere.
Special Teams: Jake Rodgers will return as the PK this season, but will give up the punting duties. Patrick O'Donnell is the leading candidate for that job.
Wins: 9/4 @ Fresno State, 9/11 Indiana State, 9/16 @ NC State, 10/9 Miami (Ohio), 10/22 South Florida, 10/30 Syracuse, 11/20 Rutgers, 11/27 @ UConn
Toss Up Games: 10/15 @ Louisville, 11/13 @ West Virginia, 11/4 Pittsburgh
Losses: 9/25 Oklahoma (@ Paul Brown Stadium)
All of these games are winnable for the Bearcats. Louisville comes as a toss only becuase it will be played on short rest after the Miami (Ohio) game. Oklahoma will come to Cincinnati this season, and although I have it down as a loss for UC, don't count them all the way out. They can easily turn the tables on the Sooners.
Outlook: Cincinnati will be a dark horse team for me. The Bearcats should not miss a beat with new coach Jones. Brad Lambert has been coordinating the D for a while now, and he will be working very hard to fix the woes from last season. Cincy can quietly contend to defend their conference title.