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Cincinnati Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Cincinnati Bearcats
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Cincinnati Bearcats Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The next Garrett Mills – If you don’t follow college football at all, you may not understand how big a compliment that is for Cincinnati tight end Brent Celek.  Mills was a one of the best pass catching tight ends in the nation in 2005 and for his brilliant four year career.  But, without Tulsa’s surprising ride to the CUSA championship last year, the former Golden Hurricane tight end would’ve been a complete unknown, toiling in relative obscurity.  For as good as Celek has been, he also battles the whole ‘toiling in relative obscurity’ problem with the Bearcats not making it to a bowl last season, winning only four games.  The senior tight end caught 32 balls last season, tops on the Cincinnati receiving corps, providing a consistent outlet for the UC QBs.  But, what sets Celek apart from Mills is his ability to be an in-line blocker and be a ‘true’ tight end, not a TE/H back hybrid.  Well, he doesn’t have to be a TE/H back hybrid, but he could be.  He’s got sufficient speed to get open against linebackers and can turn a five yard route into a 15 yard first down catch and run.  But, at his size, he can put his hand on the ground and compete in the run game blocking schemes against defensive ends in the Big East.  He doesn’t dominate at the point of attack, but because he can be effective in the run blocking schemes, he can get that much more done on play action on shallow and/or intermediate crossing routes behind run-conscious linebackers.  Mills caught a ton of balls and it’s conceivable that Celek won’t get past 50, but similar to Mills, he should see more opportunities to catch the ball in 2006, with the hope that Cincinnati can make a Tulsa like run to get Celek noticed.

2nd and Seven – You want some of this? – Straight ahead.  North and south.   Bruising.  No matter how Cincinnati RB Bradley Glatthaar, or his running style, is described, know that there’s no ‘fancy’ or ‘pretty’ in this kid’s portfolio.  When Anthony Mason used to dominate the paint in the NBA, it was “Mas in your Face” all night long.  Glatthaar is as subtle as a “Mas” punch in the face when he runs.  5”11, 225 pounds coming right at the defense wears down defenses in the fourth quarter.  The problem for Glatthaar is that teams can eventually pile enough guys into the box and rally to the ball to stop him.  As such, QB Dustin Grutza will have to prove he’s able to run play action effectively enough to keep teams from loading the box with eight defenders, wearing down Glatthaar. 

3rd and Three – Time to make the doughnuts – The arrival in the Big East last year was difficult on so many levels.  But, it was in the trenches where the Bearcats experienced the biggest change from CUSA.  The offensive line gave up a whopping 40 sacks on the year, including a nine spot against Rutgers in the season finale.  As if that wasn’t enough, the Bearcats running game accounted for 58 yards less per game than in 2004 (125 last year vs. 183 in 2004).  But, the defensive line didn’t fare all that much better.  Opponents ran for 33 yards per game more than in 2004, but there is good news for the Bearcat defense.  They return almost everyone from last year’s defensive front (except for DE Adam Roberts, which is a tough loss).  The Big East is unrelenting from a run game standpoint, so this unit must be that much better.  Better than they’ve even dreamed of being.  To be competitive in this conference, the two lines must improve and improve quickly.

4th and One – Year three – First year – make adjustments on the fly and adjust to the learning curve of being a head coach at the collegiate level.  Second year – hammer home expectations in the program, continue to weed out the non-believers in the program and show significant progress.  Third year – it’s bowl time.  Maybe it’s not written exactly that way in Mark Dantonio’s day planner, but most coaches know the deal when they take over a program.  This being Dantonio’s third year, it’s a huge year for he and the program.  After a somewhat surprising bowl appearance in his first year, the move to the Big East was a shock to the system, in more ways than one last season.  So, it’s almost as if the coaching progress chart moves out one more year, as if last year was the first year, so this is the year that Cincinnati has to prove they can be competitive week in and week out in the Big East.  But, with college coaches, you know dadgum well that it doesn’t work that way.  Maybe this isn’t a bowl team and perhaps that’s the realistic expectation, but they better show progress and battle in every game, no matter who straps it on across the field.  If they can’t do that in year three, the seat gets real hot in year four.

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