2010 Record: (4-8, 2-5 in Big East)
Head Coach: Butch Jones (4-8 at Cincy, 31-21 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2009 Season Sugar Bowl (lost to Florida 51-24)
CFBZ Cincinnati Links
9/3: Austin Peay
9/10: at Tennessee
9/22: North Carolina State (2010 result: lost 30-19)
9/29: at Miami, Oh (2010 result: won 45-3)
10/15: Louisville (2010 result: won 35-27)
10/22: at USF (2010 result: lost 38-30)
11/5: at Pittsburgh (2010 result: lost 28-10)
11/12: West Virginia (2010 result: lost 37-10)
11/19: at Rutgers (2010 result: won 69-38)
11/26: at Syracuse (2010 result: lost 31-7)
12/3: UConn (2010 result: lost 38-17)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 27.1 ppg (1st in Big East, 57th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 156.67 yds/game (5th in Big East, 56th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 260.7 yds/game (1st in Big East, 28th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 417.3 yds/game (1st in Big East, 32nd in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 28.0 ppg (8th in Big East, 68th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 135.42 yds/game (4th in Big East, 39th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 234.0 yds/game (last in Big East, 88th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 369.4 yds/game (7th in Big East, 63rd in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -1.25 per game (last in Big East, 119th in Nation)
Penalties: 63.4 yds/game (7th in Big East, 104th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Zach Collaros, Sr (225 of 383 for 2902 yds, 26 TD, 14 INT)
Rushing: RB Isaiah Pead, Sr (157 for 1029 yds, 6 TD)
Receiving: WR D.J. Woods, Sr (57 rec for 898 yds, 8 TD)
Tackles: LB JK Schaffer, Sr (111)
Sacks: DE Brandon Mills, Jr (6)
Interceptions: S Drew Frey, Jr; S Wesley Richardson, Sr (2)
Cincinnati took the world by storm during the 2009 season as they went 11-0 in the regular season and gained a birth in the Sugar Bowl. Their coach took the Notre Dame job and the bottom fell out in 2010. It started with the first game when the Bearcats fell to Fresno State 28-14. Cincinnati then dropped two close ones to NC State and Oklahoma before putting on a 2-game winning streak to draw even at 3-3. With a chance to save their season the Bearcats couldn't do it as they dropped 4 of their final 5 and finished a very disappointing 4-8. The Bearcats were very young last year on defense and return almost everybody back on that side of the football so there is really no place to go but up on defense. On offense this team has a lot of senior leadership (Collaros, Pead, Woods) and led the Big East last year in scoring and total yardage. Everything seems to be in place for the Bearcats to make a quick turnaround this year. If Cincinnati can fix their turnover issues from last year they will be a team to watch in the Big East. We turned to the SB Nation blog Big East Coast Bias to get their take on the 2011 Bearcats.
After going 27-13 at Central Michigan, Butch Jones and the Bearcats went 4-8 last year. From a coaching perspective, what does Butch need to improve this year?
I really am not sure that Butch Jones necessarily has anything as in individual coach to improve on as much as he just needs something good to break his way. So many people compared his arrival in Cincinnati not to his arrival at Central Michigan after Brian Kelly, but to Steve Kragthorpe's arrival in Louisville after Bobby Petrino. The comparisons might be unfair, but, sometimes at a bigger program, when you follow that offensive wizard that seemed to somehow get more out of personnel than anyone else could, it's impossible to get the players to quite believe in you the same way. That's what I think Jones really suffered through in 2010. The players themselves simply couldn't muster the same level of play for Jones that they did for Kelly. Then when the first set of things start to go wrong, there's a panic that snowballs and Cincinnati just couldn't stop the snowball last year. Still, I think it's too early to panic or write off Jones. I think he's a fantastic person and a great coach. What he desperately needs right now is some good news. He needs a good break to happen early in the year to set the minds right again. If that happens, Cincinnati will remain a respectable football program in the Big East under his leadership.
Cincinnati returns a bunch of starters off of a defense that gave up the most points in the Big East last year. What should we expect from this group?
I think moderate improvement would be the most you can really hope for. The unit was bad last year and while it is always good to return the majority of your players, it doesn't really guarantee that they'll be any better than they were last season. This is only compounded by the fact that the offenses in Pittsburgh and West Virginia are likely going to be exceedingly more productive than they were in 2010, and Cincinnati struggled to stop the more boring and unimaginative editions. If they can just limit the big plays in the passing game, they should see some improvement, enough perhaps, to make a difference between a win or loss here or there. Also, it would help the defense if the offense didn't turn the ball over quite so much. Sometimes the defensive stats don't capture the unfair positions it can be put in by a sloppy offense. That was certainly the case with the Bearcats offense last season (at times anyway).
The Bearcats led the Big East in scoring last year and return a lot of production in the form of Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, and D.J. Woods. Who else needs to step up on offense to get this team back in contention for the Big East Championship?
A receiver opposite D.J. Woods would be the biggest help. I sat in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium and watched almost helplessly as D.J. Woods and Armon Binns torched the Louisville secondary. Having a pair of weapons like that is a nightmare for a secondary, especially when you have the threat of a running back like Pead to punish defenses that bail out to cover the pass. Cincinnati definitely has talent at the position. The most likely candidate to step into Binns' role is Kembrell Thompkins. Jones was excited about his potential before he went down with an injury last year. He's a big, fast receiver and was one of the most sought after JUCO prospects in 2010. If not Thompkins, I'm personally a fan of Anthony McClung. McClung got some playing time as a true freshman last season and in time will develop into a real weapon at receiver. If either of those develop into something close to what Binns was
What unit needs to make the biggest improvement for Cincinnati to play winning football and go to a bowl?
The offensive line is the biggest key to Cincinnati rebounding in 2011. That's not good news for a team that only returns two of last year's starters. The good news is Jones was constantly juggling the offensive line, so some of the guys not considered returning starters have plenty of game experience and should at least be adequate. Cincinnati allowed 34 quarterback sacks in 2010, that's a figure that must improve.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
In conference, Cincinnati has got to get the lowest hanging fruit it can. That means the final three conference games at Rutgers, at Syracuse, and home against UConn. For Cincinnati to at least make it back to the postseason, they've got to win two, possibly three of those games. And I think they have the offensive firepower to do so. Splitting the two games at Paul Brown Stadium with Louisville and West Virginia would also be huge. In the non-conference schedule, I think they have to beat N.C. State at Nippert. The Wolfpack got them last year but there's no Russell Wilson to contend with this time. They should be able to outscore N.C. State and if they do, it could be a good year.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I think Cincinnati will get back to the postseason and restore some confidence in Butch Jones. I see them finishing 7-5 this season and 3-4 or perhaps 4-3 in the Big East. That would do a lot for the program and perhaps get the program some positive momentum going forward. The offensive pieces are there to be very, very dangerous. Just being adequate on defense should be enough for a winning season.
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2011 Team Previews