2008 Cincinnati Bearcats Football Preview
2007 UC Bearcats Record: (10-3, 4-3 Big East)
2007 Bowl: Papa Johns.com Bowl vs. Southern Miss (W 31-21)
Cincinnati Head Coach: Brian Kelly (11-3 at Cincinnati, 148-54-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Quinn
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Tresey
UC's Returning Leaders
Other Key Returnees: WR Marcus Barnett, G Trevor Canfield, WR Marshwan Gilyard, OT Jeff Linkenbach, LB Ryan Manalac, CB Mike Mickens, DE Lamonte Nelms, LB Andre RevelsKey Losses: RB Butler Benton, OT Digger Bujnoch, DE Anthony Hoke, QB Ben Mauk, RB Greg Moore, S Haruki Nakamura, S Anthony Williams
Coach Brian Kelly exceeded expectations his first full year at Cincinnati and led the team to a ten win season. With another year to instill his system on the Bearcats, the team would logically continue to improve. However, while Coach Kelly certainly got the most out of his talent, this year’s team has some big holes to fill.
More 2008 Big East football previews:
But the proverbial cupboard is not bare. Cornerbacks Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith return for their senior seasons after combining for 14 interceptions last year. Having experience on the edges will certainly help fill the void left by graduating safety Haruki Nakamura. Perhaps the biggest surprise at Cincinnati last season was the play of the wide receivers. It was expected that Dominick Goodman would be a quality receiver, but Marcus Barnett and Marshwan Gilyard made it nearly impossible for the opposition to cover everybody. One game Goodman would be shut down and Barnett would have a huge game and the next game the roles would be reversed.
However, quarterback Ben Mauk lost his plea with the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility and that leaves a huge question about who will throw the ball to all those quality receivers. Dustin Grutza has more experience in the program, but the senior could not beat out Mauk last off-season for the starting gig. Demetrius Jones, a transfer from Notre Dame who started the first game of the season for the Irish in 2007, would bring a dual-threat to the position and has a ton of potential. The biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball is at the ends. Anthony Hoke tallied 13 sacks during his senior season and that will not be easy to replace. Besides finding another starter, the bench players at the position are a big concern and tight end…turned basketball player…turned defensive end Connor Barwin will at least provide some depth at his new position.
The Bottom Line for the Bearcats:
On paper this is a team that will take a small step back. There are a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but this is still a program that is going upwards quickly under Coach Kelly. It will be asking a bit too much for the Bearcats to compete for a Big East title, but they should be able to keep building for the future by going to a decent bowl game.
2007 UC Bearcats Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 147.77 (62nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 286.15 (20, 2)
Total Offense: 433.92 (30, 4)
Scoring Offense: 36.31 (16, 2)
Rushing Defense: 114.23 (19, 2)
Pass Defense: 254.00 (89, 7)
Total Defense: 368.23 (50, 6)
Scoring Defense: 18.77 (13, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.23 (6, 1)
Sacks: 3.23 (8, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (48, 3)
By Joel Welser
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