2012 Cincinnati Preview - Offense
Cincinnati RB Ralph David Abernathy
Cincinnati RB Ralph David Abernathy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 20, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Cincinnati Bearcat Offense


Cincinnati Bearcats

Preview 2012 - Offense

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What you need to know:
In order for the spread offense to click in the Queen City, the Bearcats will need a capable successor to star Zach Collaros. Although nothing has been made official, that player appears to be Munchie Legaux. Not only does the junior have the best physical skill set among the returners, but he also earned three valuable starters when Collaros was injured last November. Legaux will no longer have RB Isaiah Pead in his rear view mirror, a significant loss, but it’s not as if he’ll have to carry the team on his own in the fall. Cincinnati will have the numbers at the skill positions, even if it doesn’t harbor a bona fide star. The running game could be by committee, with George Winn, Jameel Poteat and Ralph Abernathy IV all vying for touches. Junior Anthony McClung is the front man of a receiving corps that returns three Bearcats who caught at least 19 balls in 2011. McClung hauled in a team-high 49 passes for 683 yards and six touchdowns. Up front, Cincy will be breaking in three new starters. The new veteran of the front wall will be OT Sean Hooey. However, it’ll be worth monitoring the trajectory of the other tackle, sophomore Eric Lefeld, who has a tremendous future ahead of him.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Munchie Legaux
55-116, 749 yds, 5 TDs, 4 INTs
Rushing: George Winn
40 carries, 219 yds, 2 TDs
Receiving: Anthony McClung
49 catches, 683 yds, 6 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior WR Anthony McClung
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Munchie Legaux
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LT Eric Lefeld
Best pro prospect: McClung
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McClung, 2) Senior WR Kenbrell Thompkins, 3) Junior LG Austen Bujnoch
Strength of the offense: The receivers, run blocking, the system
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience behind center, proven feature back, depth

Quarterbacks

Late last year, the Bearcats got a dress rehearsal for life after Zach Collaros. Now that the star quarterback has graduated, it’s showtime for his successors. When Collaros was injured last Nov. 12, it opened the door for his backup, Munchie Legaux, to get valuable reps a year earlier than expected. The 6-5, 198-pound junior from New Orleans responded by going 55-of-116 for 749 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. A terrific all-around athlete, he also ran for 185 yards and two scores. He has the most all-around physical ability of any of the Cincinnati hurlers, but needs to evolve as a passer in order to hold off the competition.

Neck-and-neck atop the depth chart with Legaux is 6-4, 237-pound Brendon Kay . The senior has virtually no experience, attempting eight career passes, and has had a history of knee problems. However, he’s had a terrific offseason, and is as healthy as he’s been at this level. He’s an unknown who doesn’t do any one thing fabulously well, but he’s showing no signs of going away.

Redshirt freshman Patrick Coyne is a distant No. 3 in the competition. The 6-1, 233-pounder will be looking to maintain his spot on the depth chart, particularly now that heralded 2012 recruit Bennie Coney is on campus.

Watch Out For.... Legaux to win the job in the summer. While he’s an unfinished product, he also gives the offense so many different options with his strong arm and ability to extend plays with his legs. If the staff can coach him up in August, the junior is capable of paying back substantial dividends in the fall.
Strength: Athleticism. Assuming Legaux winds up being the guy behind center, the Bearcats are going to keep defenses guessing with the quarterback’s dual-threat ability. If nothing else, the junior is highly explosive and unpredictable, and is capable of burning opponents in more than one way.
Weakness: Inexperience. Admittedly, it could have been a lot worse had Collaros not been injured last fall. While Legaux is no longer a complete novice, he is still a little wet behind the ears. And behind him is an array of beginner. The Bearcats have zero depth, no proven players and a need for more leadership behind center.
Outlook: Cincinnati will recover from the graduation of Collaros, but it might not happen until 2013. While exciting and filled with potential, Legaux is still very much unproven, and yet to shake free from Kay. The junior needs to have a breakthrough August, the kind of month that ends any speculation about the starting job, and galvanizes the troops around him.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

The Bearcats haven’t just lost a starting running back; in Isaiah Pead, they must replace one of the best offensive playmakers in school history. The tall task of filling the current St. Louis Rams shoes belongs to senior George Winn , a career backup who has shown flashes of potential when given an opportunity. The 5-11, 202-pounder ran for 219 yards and two scores on 40 carries in 2011, much of which came in the Liberty Bowl. While not spectacular, he’s steady, and has worked hard for this opportunity to finally secure a more prominent role in the running game.

Behind Winn is one of the gems of the 2011 recruiting class, 5-10, 198-pound sophomore Jameel Poteat . He got a taste of action as a rookie a year ago, carrying the ball 23 times for 108 yards and a touchdown in the blowout of Akron. Pursued by the likes of USC, Iowa and Pitt, he has the complete skill set as a runner and a receiver needed to become the go-to-guy no later than 2013.

When a change of pace is needed, sophomore Ralph David Abernathy IV will be summoned from the bench. He’s only 5-7 and 168 pounds, but can impact the tempo of a game with his acceleration and game-breaking speed. A star on special teams as a rookie, he only carried the ball 14 times for 38 yards, but should get more chances in space this fall.

Watch Out For .... no retreat from Poteat. Winn has the clear edge in experience, but Poteat has a higher ceiling, and is gaining ground quickly. If the sophomore can pick up the finer points of the position, such as picking up the blitz and feeling the flow of the play, he’s capable of unseating the veteran before or during the season.
Strength: The future. The presence of the sophomores, Poteat and Abernathy, give the Bearcats plenty of hope that the running game won’t be down for very long. By 2013, Cincinnati is capable of having a back who can contend for the Big East rushing title, and a dangerous homerun hitter available in third-down situations.
Weakness: The present. The drop-off from Pead is substantial, which is a surprise to no one. Winn is a terrific player to have on the roster and in the locker room, but he’s most valuable when spelling a starter off the bench. And while the backups are rich in talent and potential, they’ve also played very little at this level.
Outlook: For the Bearcats ground game, 2012 represents a transition year. Pead is now in the rear view mirror, and it remains to be seen if Poteat is ready to assume the role of every-down back. If not, Winn will shoulder the load, average around four yards a carry and do whatever he can to keep the rushing attack afloat until the kids are ready to take over.
Rating: 6.5

Receivers

If the passing game sputters in 2012, it’s unlikely to be the fault of the receivers. Four of last season’s top six pass-catchers are back for a group that shapes up as the strongest unit on offense. The leader of the corps will be 6-0, 163-pound junior Anthony McClung , a dangerous playmaker from the slot. He led the team with 49 receptions for 683 yards and six touchdowns, often slipping into the open spot in the middle of the field. Too quick to be contained by opposing linebackers, he showed a penchant for taking quick tosses and weaving his way to substantial gains downfield.

The veteran on the outside will be 6-1, 185-pound senior Kenbrell Thompkins , last season’s second-leading receiver. He caught 44 balls for 536 yards and two touchdowns in his debut out of El Camino (Calif.) Community College. The native of Miami has a tremendous amount of potential, even next-level potential, but will have to perform with more consistency in his second year as a Bearcat.

The up-and-comer of the starters is sophomore Alex Chisum who put down the ground floor of a promising career in 2011. The key recruit from 2011 class began his career by catching 19 passes for 302 yards and two scores, getting more comfortable as the season progressed. At 6-3 and 186 pounds, he has ideal size to go along with a fluid gate, good speed and the leaping ability to become a weapon in the red zone.

Depth at wide receiver is going to be a problem, especially for a spread offense. The Bearcats are young and inexperienced, prompting the staff to move 6-3, 215-pound junior Jordan Luallen from quarterback to the slot position behind McClung. He has adapted well so far, using his strength and big frame to get good position on defensive backs.

The team’s tight end will be 6-6, 255-pound Travis Kelce , a player the staff believes will be a valuable weapon on third downs and in the red zone. The senior caught 13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns as a backup, and is going to be a favorite target of the quarterbacks at critical junctures of the game.

Watch Out For.... Chisum to begin stealing some production away from the veterans, McClung and Thompkins. He’s big, he’s fast and he’s in a better position to contribute than he was at this time last year. Chisum is poised to be an upgrade over DJ Woods, the lone starter among the wide receivers to graduate.
Strength: Playmakers. All three of the starting wide receivers possess explosive qualities, the ability to separate from defensive backs, and maximize their yards after the catch. If the new quarterback cooperates, Cincinnati has the weapons to average a robust number of yards per catch, while occasionally getting behind the secondary.
Weakness: Consistency. The raw talent is in place for a big year, but the receivers absolutely must eliminate the drops that plagued them a year ago. The quarterbacks are going to need all of the help they can get this fall, and poorly-run routes and poor concentration are going to be unacceptable for the passing game to click.
Outlook: Hopes are sky high for a receiving corps comprised of three players capable of earning All-Big East honors at some point during their career. The starting four, including the tight end, is solid, but depth is a major concern heading into the season. If the Bearcats can remain healthy, and form a connection with the new quarterback, they’ll create all kinds of headaches for opposing defensive backs this fall.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Line

A year after playing above expectations, the O-line is looking to keep the momentum going in 2011. After starting all 13 games at right guard in 2011, junior Austen Bujnoch is switching sides in order to anchor the left side. Healthy for an entire season, the 6-5, 280-pounder showcased his potential, especially as a pocket protector. Agile and athletic, he has All-Big East potential provided he can add a little more muscle, and continue to hone his technique.

Next to Bujnoch at left tackle is one of the unit’s rising young stars, 6-6, 283-pound sophomore Eric Lefeld . As a rookie, he started six games at right tackle after an injury forced him into the lineup. The one-time defensive end when he first arrived on campus has great feet and balance, and has done enough in the offseason to convince the coaches that he belongs as the quarterback’s blindside protector.

The likely replacement for Evan Davis at center is 6-3, 286-pound junior Dan Sprague , a little-used backup in his first three seasons on campus. He appeared in five games off the bench in 2011, now needing to prove he can a significant promotion, and the snapping duties that will go along with it.

The right side of the line will be anchored by senior tackle Sean Hooey , who started six games here last fall before suffering a season-ending injury. At 6-9 and 298 pounds, he’s one of the biggest players in the game. However, that size, while imposing, can sometimes be a liability for the two-time letterwinner if he isn’t properly bending at the knees when pass protecting .

For now, it’s looks as if 6-7, 299-pound sophomore Kevin Schloemer will take Bujnoch’s spot at right guard. However, 6-4, 293-pound junior Sean McClellan will resume his quest for the starting nod in the summer as well. In fact, between the pair, they have no letters, and played in just five combined games in 2011.

The most intriguing of the unproven backups is 6-5, 280-pound junior Sam Longo , who is currently behind Sprague at the pivot. He sat out last season after transferring from Ohio State, and plays with a degree of tenacity and toughness that should earn him a key role in the rotation this fall.

Watch Out For .... pundits to be calling Lefeld one of the league’s best young blockers by the close of the year. After performing well in an emergency role last fall, he got stronger in the weight room, and more technically-sound on the practice field. He’s ready for the challenge of being the left tackle on a team that favors the pass.
Strength: Yeah, Isaiah Pead gets a share of the success, but his blockers deserve a lot of credit for opening holes for the all-star back over the last two seasons. The Bearcats are a blue-collar bunch that locks on to D-lines, fights to the whistle and consistently creates space for the running backs.
Weakness: The bench. While there is some trepidation about the starting five, it doesn’t compare to how the coaching staff worries about its O-line depth. Only one member of the two-deep, 6-7, 283-pound sophomore Cory Keebler , has earned a letter at Cincinnati. The rest of the second team is comprised of transfers and redshirt freshmen.
Outlook: Although the offensive line is short on star power or sure-things, it’ll continue to be an overachieving unit that does more good than harm for the skill position players. The tackles and Bujnoch at left guard will be fine, but the rest of the interior and the overall depth will define the ultimate grade for this year’s offensive front.
Rating: 6.5
 
- 2012 Cincinnati Preview | 2012 Cincinnati Offense
- 2012 Cincinnati Defense | 2012 Cincinnati Depth Chart
- Cincinnati Previews  2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006