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2009 CFN Cincinnati Preview
Cincinnati WR/CB Marcus Barnett
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Cincinnati Bearcats
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2009 CFN Cincinnati
2007 Cincinnati Preview
2006 Cincinnati Preview
Now that Cincinnati has posted back-to-back
10-win seasons for the first time in school history, can it
capitalize and keep the momentum going?
Head coach: Brian Kelly
3rd year: 22-6
11th year overall: 159-57-2
Off. 23, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Best UC Players
1. WR Mardy Gilyard, Sr.
2. QB Tony Pike,
3. LT Jeff Linkenbach, Sr.
4. RB John Goebel, Jr.
5. DE Curtis Young, Sr.
6. FS Aaron Webster, Sr.
CB Marcus Barnett, Jr.
8. RB Isaiah Pead, Sr.
Andre Revels, Sr.
10. C Chris Jurek, Sr.
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2009 Record: 0-0
9/7 at Rutgers
9/12 SE Missouri St
9/19 at Oregon State
9/26 Fresno State
10/3 at Miami Univ.
10/10 OPEN DATE
10/15 at USF
10/31 at Syracuse
11/13 West Virginia
11/21 OPEN DATE
12/5 at Pitt
2008 Record: 11-3
Kentucky W 40-7
Sept. 6 at Oklahoma L 52-26
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 Miami Univ. W
Sept. 27 at Akron W 17-15
Oct. 3 at Marshall W
Oct. 11 Rutgers W 13-10
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 at Connecticut L 40-16
Oct. 30 South Florida W
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at W Virginia W 36-23 OT
Nov. 14 at Louisville W 28-20
Nov. 22 Pitt W 28-21
Nov. 29 Syracuse W 30-10
Dec. 6 at Hawaii W 29-24
Jan. 1 Virginia Tech L 20-6
These are heady times for the Bearcats, which won the Big East
championship, the school’s first outright conference title since
1964. However, that team was clearly built for 2008, brimming
with returning starters and getting a stunning six players
drafted by the NFL in April. Now that 14 starters have departed,
including 10 on defense, Cincy will be trying to avoid slipping
back into national anonymity.
The biggest reason to smile around the Queen City is that head
coach Brian Kelly continues to be on the sidelines, despite
being the target of top-shelf programs following each of the
last two seasons. In fact, he recently signed a contract
extension designed to keep him around through the 2013 season.
He’s been nothing short of a gem for Cincinnati, leading the
school to a 22-6 mark and that high-profile appearance in
January’s Orange Bowl. He can flat out coach kids up, which is a
good thing because most of the region’s brightest talent usually
ends up in Columbus.
So where do the Bearcats go from here? The offense should be
fine now that QB Tony Pike has developed into a pro prospect and
incendiary WR Mardy Gilyard put off the NFL for one more amateur
season. This unit won’t have many problems scoring points. This
unit better not have many problems scoring points because the
defense is a work-in-progress. Gone from last year’s group are
all but one starter, four all-stars, and defensive coordinator
Joe Tresey. New coordinator Bob Diaco has young talent at his
disposal, like DE Derek Wolfe and SS Drew Frey, but it’s going
to take time before everything comes together.
Is Cincinnati rebuilding or restocking in 2009? That’ll be
answered pretty quickly with a September schedule that includes
trips to Rutgers and Oregon State, and a visit from Fresno
State. While it’ll be hard to match last year’s success,
expecting less from Kelly-coached teams is perennially becoming
a humbling sentiment.
What to watch for on
offense: The next stage of QB Tony Pike’s development. Hey,
no complaints about Pike’s All-Big East debut as the starter,
but he’ll need to step it up this fall and become the catalyst
of the entire program. Basically, he’s got to be Ben Mauk-good
in order to offset a defense that’s sure to take time to gel.
For those who forget, Mauk is the guy, who tossed 31 touchdown
passes in 2007 and was near flawless in one of the best seasons
by a quarterback in school history. Pike had a habit of feasting
on weaker defenses and got exposed by Virginia Tech in the
Orange Bowl. He has to elevate this fall and become the
pro-caliber hurler that many are predicting.
What to watch for on
defense: The results of the myriad position-switchers. The
program that relocated former tight end Connor Barwin and helped
turn him into an NFL defensive end is at it again. Former
fullback Marcus Waugh is battling for a starting job at middle
linebacker. Former defensive end Craig Carey has the inside
track at strongside linebacker. Former quarterback Demetrius
Jones is bucking for playing time at outside linebacker. Former
wide receiver Marcus Barnett is in the lead at one of the
cornerback openings. If defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is going
to excel in his debut, he’ll need these nomads to be quick
studies, or else the back seven could be hurting.
The team will be far
better if… the defense regroups rather than rebuilds. The
offense is going to be a notch better than a year ago, which
means progress depends on the development of a defense replacing
10 starters and four all-stars. Cincinnati can probably win a
lot of shootouts if it has to, but would prefer not having to
play in the 30s week after week. If the defense can remain tough
against the run and produce a few more turnovers than a year
ago, the Bearcats will be right back in the Big East title hunt.
aren't taking it easy with the non-conference schedule with a tough game
at Oregon State to go along with interesting home games against Illinois
and Fresno State. The Bearcats will be better than Miami University, but
that's always an interesting in-state game. There are three road games
in a four-game stretch in the middle of the season, but it's helped by
an off week and the home game against Louisville. There are four Big
East road games, but one of them is at Syracuse while Connecticut and
West Virginia are at home. The final kick is tough with the Illinois
game coming before a tough trip to Pitt to close things out.
Best offensive player:
Senior WR Mardy Gilyard. Had he left for the NFL, Gilyard would have
been the seventh Bearcat selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. From a spare
part in 2007, he mushroomed into one of the nation’s most exciting
weapons, catching 81 balls for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns, and adding
a pair of touchdowns on kick returns. Instant electricity in a 6-1,
190-pound frame, he’s already being viewed as a possible first-day pick
next April. He’s a defense-stretcher, who makes life easier for the rest
of his offensive mates.
Best defensive player:
Senior DE Curtis Young. Feel free to insert senior FS Aaron Webster, the
lone returning starter on the defense. However, now that Young has a
chance to play full-time, the sneaking suspicion is that he’ll emerge as
one of the team’s most consistent playmakers. He gets off the line in a
hurry, and despite not starting a single game, still produced 8.5
tackles for loss and four sacks. As an every-down player, who’s being
asked to ignite the pass rush, he could double those numbers in 2009.
Key player to a
successful season: Junior CB Marcus Barnett. Of all the hurdles
facing Cincinnati this season, none is taller than rebuilding the
defensive backfield, specifically the cornerbacks. Barnett has been
moved from wide receiver, where he caught 92 balls in two seasons, in an
attempt to bolster the position. What began as an experiment in the
spring looks as if it’s going to continue through the summer and fall.
The 2009 schedule features a lot of quality receivers, so it’s incumbent
upon on Barnett to defend passes as well as he caught them in 2007 and
The season will be a
success if ... the Bearcats bowl without having to break a sweat in
November. In what could shape up as a semi-rebuilding year in
Cincinnati, a fourth consecutive postseason game would be evidence that
the program is firmly on the tracks. With a schedule that includes trips
to Rutgers, Oregon State, South Florida, and Pittsburgh, and visits from
Fresno State, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Illinois, anything more
than seven wins would be an achievement.
Key game: Sept. 7 at
Rutgers. While it’s not like an opener will dictate what happens the
rest of the way for the Bearcats, they are going to learn a lot about
themselves right away. With so many new starters on both sides of the
ball, Cincinnati doesn’t really know how far it has to travel in order
to defend its Big East throne. A trip to Piscataway to face a Scarlet
Knight team with title hopes of its own will answer loads of questions
for Brian Kelly and his staff.
2008 Fun Stats:
- Kickoff Return Average: Cincinnati 24.2 yards - Opponents
- Second Quarter Scoring: Cincinnati 119 - Opponents 55
- Fumbles: Cincinnati 30, lost 15 - Opponents 19, lost 5
2009 CFN Cincinnati
2007 Cincinnati Preview
2006 Cincinnati Preview