So what did we learn at
1. The interception Grutza threw on first and goal. It was inexcusable. UC was going to get points, they were likely going to get a touchdown…do not force the ball into coverage on first down. Throw the ball away.
2. The personal foul on Dominick Goodman late in the half. UC completed a 42 yard pass putting them in field goal range (it was also a touchdown with a better pass but lets not get too picky). Goodman fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Sooners. He committed a personal foul for hitting the Sooners player late. The fumble was reversed, but the personal foul took UC out of field goal range. From where the Bearcats would have been without the personal foul, they could have really put the pressure on
3. The 43 yard pass to Ryan Broyles on third and 9 after the Marty Gilyard runback. This was a devastating play and the point at which the game turned. The worst part of this play was the Bearcats hit
4. The fake punt. I do not blame Coach Kelly in the least for this. The defense could not go right back on the field. They just were too gassed and were getting gashed all game long. And if I asked the immortal Herm Edwards, “Why do you play?” He would calmly respond, “You play to win the game.” Honestly, it was open, it’s just for everything that Kevin Huber is to the Bearcats he is not one of the 35 quarterbacks on the roster. The pass was short, it was deflected and the game was effectively over. You change those four plays above and we are looking at a completely different game…and you know what, this
So where does that leave the Bearcats? What do they need to do to become Big East Champions? The conference is wide open.
- Can Tony Pike be an effective quarterback in Brian Kelly’s offense? Will Kelly try anyone else?
Of all the questions, I think this is the biggest. The Bearcats have a ton of weapons. I was very impressed with the offensive line against the Sooners. I thought for the most part they opened up holes and gave Grutza some time to throw the ball. The times they got beat seemed to be when we let the play clock run down to the end and they could time the blitz. We already knew Goodman and Barnett were big time receivers, but Marty Gilyard has been unreal this season. He is explosive and can make plays in space. He is as good as any Bearcat I have seen since Ladarius Vann at turning a 3 yard pass into a 30 yard pass. I have been somewhat encouraged by the running game. All in all I think that this offense needs a quarterback. Pike has all the physical tools. He is tall, has a big arm, and has reasonably good mobility; however, we have yet to seem him in game action with the first team. If Pike can deliver good passes on time and make good decisions the offense should continue to be explosive and put pressure on opposing teams. If not Kelly will have to find an answer from somebody else and it is sounding like Demetrius Jones is next in line.
- Are UC’s defensive ends good enough to consistently get pressure on the quarterback?
Of course, OU was the stiffest of competition. That line was monstrous. I still believe Barwin could be a heck of an end. He was just too inexperienced going against too good of a defensive line. The good news is our defensive ends will get to go against one on one blocking because teams will have to double team Byrd. Byrd was a monster against
- Can we stop the pass over the middle?
I thought for the most part UC was ok on the edge against
- Will someone please make a PAT, much less a field goal?
I do not think I need to delve into this one too much, but UC’s kicking game must improve. The rest of UC’s special teams should be very good. They get great punting from Huber, Rodgers has been driving the ball deep, the coverage has been alright, and Gilyard has looked spectacular in the return game. These all play to the Bearcat’s advantage. They just need someone to make a PAT.
Bearcat fans need to remember that we played
At the same time they showed some of UC’s areas for concern and created another (with the injury to Grutza). The Bearcats have three games they should win before Big East play begins. I want to see these four areas move from areas of concerns to strengths. If that happens, the Bearcats will be in position to win the Big East and have a top ten type of season. Remember there are a ton of players back from a Bearcat team that finished number 17 in the country and won 10 games. The Big East looks ripe for the taking. With steady quarterback play, a pass rush, consistent pass defense over the middle and an average kicking game the Bearcats can win the Big East. The next three weeks will give us an idea of where we are heading the rest of the way.