| Further Analysis
Mark Dantonio's second year as head coach was a tumultuous one,
but he and his staff brought it on themselves by playing ten
freshmen in prominent roles. Predictably, the team was inconsistent,
but going 4-7 isn't a bad rebuilding year considering the program
made the jump from Conference USA to the Big East.
Dantonio's biggest job was upgrading the overall talent level. UC was
always an above-average Conference USA team that next quite had the
firepower or players to do more. That's part of the reason former
head man Rick Minter was fired and Dantonio was brought in.
Unfortunately, it still might take another year of seasoning as
all of last year's inexperienced, erratic first year players are now
experienced, erratic second year players looking to improve.
However, if UC could go 4-7 last year with all the problems, getting
to at least six wins this season won't be that undoable a jump.
Head coach: Mark Dantonio
3rd year: 11-12
Off. 19, Def. 23, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 13
Best UC Players
1. TE Brent Celek, Sr.
2. CB Mike Mickens, Soph.
3. LB Corey Smith, Soph.
4. FB Doug Jones, Jr.
5. LB Kevin McCullough, Sr.
6. FS Hakuri Nakamura, Jr.
7. LB Anthony Williams, Jr.
8. DE Trevor Anderson, Soph.
9. WR Earnest Jackson, Jr.
10. QB Dustin Grutza, Soph.
at Ohio State
at Virginia Tech
at West Virginia
2005 Record: 4-7
2005 predicted wins
at Penn State L 42-24
at Miami Univ. L 44-16
at Pittsburgh L 38-20
Louisville L 45-22
at Syracuse W 22-16
West Virginia L 38-0
at South Florida L 31-16
at Rutgers L 44-9
foremost, the offense has to figure out how to score more. The D simply
won't be good enough to hold Big East juggernauts like Louisville and
West Virginia under wraps. 28 was the high point total by the Bearcats
in the win over Connecticut with things coming to a dead stop over the
final three games with only two touchdowns and 25 total points scored
against West Virginia, South Florida and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights
held UC to 146 yards. Yes, that Rutgers.
Quarterback Dustin Grutza has a year of experience and has decent
weapons around him to work with. Doug Jones is one of the Big East's top
tight ends, there are several experience backs to take the heat off, and
receiver Earnest Jackson is a rising star. However, it all hinges on a
line that has to rebuild after an awful 2005.
The defense, Dantonio's specialty, should be far better with a strong
back seven and a young line that should be good enough to dominate by
next season. The linebacking corps of Corey Smith and Anthony Williams
on the outside and Kevin McCullough in the middle should shine, while
corner Mike Mickens and free safety Haruki Nakamura are strong enough to
grow into All-Big East performers.
This isn't going to be a Big East title season, and it might not even be
a winning campaign, but UC had to build from the bottom up. The patience
will pay off by the end of this year and into 2007.
Schedule: The Bearcats certainly aren't taking it easy early on. The
Eastern Kentucky layup needs to be when everything clicks with the Big
East opener against Pitt coming six days later followed up by at Ohio
State and at Virginia Tech. Miami University would be a week off for
some Big East teams, but the RedHawks won the battle of Ohio 44-16 last
season. Any distant dreams of winning the Big East title will go bye-bye
with road trips to Louisville and West Virginia. There's a nice stretch
of three conference home games in four weeks in the second half of the
Offensive Player: Senior TE Brent Celek. A great route runner with
excellent hands, the 6-4, 255-pound senior made the most of what he was
given to work with around him as the main playmaker in last year's
offense. He can be a big play target and will be the number one option
for quarterback Dustin Grutza.
Defensive Player: Sophomore CB Mike Mickens. A rail-thin 6-0 and 165
pounds, Mickens is one of the pound-for-pound toughest tacklers in the
Big East. More importantly for the Bearcats, he's also growing into one
of the league's premier cover-corners with 14 broken up passes as a true
to a successful season: The entire offensive line. The Bearcats
allowed 40 sacks and only averaged 3.2 yards per carry. While there are
several players with starting experience, this is hardly a line that
knows what it's doing with three starters gone and needing several
career backups to become reliable producers.
will be a success if ... Cincinnati wins seven games. There are mile-wide holes and several
major problems to overcome, but it wouldn't be completely unrealistic if
the Bearcats beat Eastern Kentucky, Miami University, Akron, South
Florida, Syracuse and Rutgers. It'll likely take at least two upsets to
come up with a winning season, but it's an attainable goal.
September 8th vs. Pitt. Cincinnati isn't good enough to hang around
with Louisville, so a win over the Panthers will be vital to avoid a bad
Big East start. With road trips to Ohio State and Virginia Tech ahead, a
win will be vital to avoid a 1-3 overall start.
Scores through three quarters: Opponents 261 - Cincinnati
- Penalties: Opponents 81 for 685 yards - Cincinnati 68 for 576 yards
- Field goals: Opponents 16 of 19 - Cincinnati 4 of 9
Last Time Cincinnati…
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Fort Worth Bowl v. Marshall)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1995 (Virginia Tech)
…was shutout…2005 (West Virginia)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Southern Miss)
…won a conference title…2002 (share, C-USA)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2002 (Gino Guidugli)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (DeMarco McCleskey)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Hannibal Thomas)
…had a first-round draft choice…1971 (DT Bob Bell)