2012 Cincinnati Bearcats Football Preview
2011 Record: 10-3 (5-2 Big East)
Head Coach: Butch Jones, third season (14-11 at Cincinnati) (41-24 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 12
Spring Game: April 14th
Notes: Since 2003, Cincinnati has had five coaches. Four of those five coaches are still college football head coaches, only Rick Minter is no longer a head coach, but he’s serving as the defensive coordinator at Kentucky. Mark Dantonio compiled a 19-17 record at Cincinnati and has coached at Michigan State since the 2007 season. Brian Kelly was 34-6 and has coached at Notre Dame since the 2010 season. Jeff Quinn coached the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl following the 2009 season, he is now the head coach at Buffalo, serving in that position since the 2010 season. Butch Jones struggled in his first season at UC, missing the post-season with a 4-8 record. Last year, Jones had a veteran squad, resulting in a 10-3 record and a share of the Big East Title. This year, Jones will have a new set of challenges as he has the youngest team, experience-wise, in the Big East.
BVTSB Take: Four of the past five seasons Cincinnati has had double digit wins. Coach Jones took over for Brian Kelly at Central Michigan when Kelly departed for Cincinnati. Jones took over for Kelly at Cincinnati when Kelly left for Notre Dame. Jones is familiar with the type of players Kelly recruits and will have a chance to see some of his recruits crack the starting lineup. Cincinnati returns two starters on the offensive line – LG Austin Bujnoch (13 starts in 2011) and RT Sean Hooey (6 starts in 2011, injured much of last year). C Sam Longo is a transfer from Ohio State, sitting out last season. RG Kevin Schloemer played in one game last year and LT Eric Lefeld started 7 games at RT last year, playing in all 13 games. A big loss for Cinci is quarterback Zach Collaros, who departs the Queen City after throwing for at least 1400 yards in each of his last three seasons (1934 yards in 2011). Collaros missed time last season with an ankle injury. Munchie Legaux saw time in his place, and is the starter this season. Legaux was 2-1 in his starts following Collaros’ injury. Legaux threw for 749 yards and five touchdowns in six games last year, playing minimal time early in the season. The experience of starting last year helps, and there may not be much of a drop off in production at the QB position because of that. Running back Isaiah Pead is now a member of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Pead rushed for 1259 yards last season (1029 yards in 2010) along with 12 touchdowns. The loss of Pead, arguably, is bigger than the loss of Collaros. Jameel Poteat and George Winn expect to see time at running back, but the two combined for 63 carries (Pead had 237), 327 yards, and three touchdowns last year. Expect a severe decline in rushing production this year. UC loses WR D.J. Woods who graduates – 444 yards receiving and two touchdowns in 2011. Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins, the two leading receivers for Cincinnati last year, both return. McClung and Thompkins combined for 1219 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. Jordan Luallen should be the other starting wide receiver (played QB last year, a 2010 transfer from Georgia Tech). The changing of conferences with West Virginia and Temple reeked havoc on Big East non-conference schedules. As such, Cincinnati plays two FCS opponents – Delaware State and Fordham. They will also play Virginia Tech, Miami University, and Toledo in non-conference. Cincinnati should be 4-1 in those games. Cincinnati draws most of the Big East Title contenders at home – Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and South Florida – but does travel to Louisville. Because of the inexperience at center and running back, its going to be tough for Cincinnati to match last year’s win total. Still, the home games against key teams can help deliver a Big East title, if all goes well.
2012 Early Projection: 8-4
To see the 2012 Big East composite schedule, click here.
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