>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Brian Kelly has turned the Cincinnati program into a respectable bowl representative and a power player in the Big East in three short seasons. Kelly helped catapult the Bearcats to eleven wins and an Orange Bowl appearance last season, a feat that Bearcat fans could not have fathomed a few years ago. However, that was a senior laden team and there will be regression this fall, because the Bearcats only return eight starters (1 on defense).
Kelly does have a veteran quarterback at his disposal, Tony Pike, and he should help keep the offensive unit respectable. Pike has a big time talent outside to throw the ball too in Mardy Gilyard. Gilyard is a 6'1, 180 pound wide receiver that will help keep the chains moving on offensive unit that lacks any true game breaking talent at the running back position. Senior Jacob Ramsey will attempt to handle the bulk of the carries, while Isiah Pead waits in the wings. While talent is lacking at the running back position, the offensive line is capable of providing them holes to run through. Tackle Jeff Linkenbach and senior center Chris Jurek will provide bulk and experience up front for the Bearcats. The Bearcats offense was far from spectacular last season with the same talent, and Kelly needs to see a major improvement, because his defense was ravaged by graduation.
Cincinnati only returns one starter on the defensive side of the ball and must replace three All-Big East performers, while attempting to stay competitive. Safety Aaron Webster is the lone returning starter and he will be joined by Justin Moore, Dominique Battle and Brad Jones in a weak defensive backfield. While a whole new team will be on the field at the linebacking and defensive line positions, Kelly hopes they can grasp his 3-4 defensive scheme in a rapid fashion. Senior Andre Revels and junior Robby Armstrong will be joined by J.K. Scahffer and Curtis Young at the linebacker position. Alex Daniels, Ricardo Matthews and John Hughes will attempt to replace a talented defensive line that graced the confines of Nipper Stadium last season. The Bearcats season will hinge on the defenses ability to reach respectability and, if that occurs, Kelly and Company may see another bowl game.
Kelly's recruiting class was far from spectacular on paper. The Bearcats landed the 60th ranked class in the country according to rivals.com and is lacking on talent outside of JUCO wide receiver Jamar Howard. Howard is a 6'4", 210 pound wide receiver who adds depth to an already deep receiving core. Howard will be joined in Cincinnati by four star corner back Chris Williams. Williams turned down the likes of West Virginia and Michigan State to join the Kelly's team.
September 12th-Southeast Missouri State-Win
September 19th-@Oregon State-Loss
September 26th-Fresno State-Win
October 3rd-@Miami (Oh)-Win
October 15th-@South Florida-Loss
November 13-West Virginia-Loss
Season Projection: 7-5 (3-4 Big East)