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2009 Big East Prospectus Part 1: Cincinnati

Editor’s Note: This is part one of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. Two new teams will be released each weekday for the next four days, leading up to the start of the Syracuse Football season. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however the opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am.

Preview – The Bearcats are coming off their second ten win season in a row, earning their first conference championship outright since the 1964 football season. Brian Kelly has been an outstanding coach for this team, as is evident by six members of last year’s team being drafted in this year’s NFL Draft. The team has one great passing attack by anyone’s standards. The team averaged 253 passing yards per game last season. QB Tony Pike (199/324, 2407yds, 19 TD, 11 INT, sacked 18 times) is a great passer, and he has a major weapon in WR Mardy Gilyard (81rec, 1276yds, 15.8avg, 11 TD) who could abuse inexperienced defenses. However, Cincinnati has experienced major losses on the defensive side as they are replacing ten starters. Clearly if Cincinnati fails to win ten games again it will be due to the weakness of the defense. Several players have switched positions, and this defense is under a new coordinator installing a new system. There will be mistakes made and points for opponents will be scored. Cincinnati will have a good season, and will go Bowling, but they will not get another ten wins with the defense rebuilding.

Key Returning Players – QB Tony Pike, WR Mardy Gilyard, DE Curtis Young

Key Losses – LB Ryan Manalac, LB Corey Smith, WR Dominick Goodman

My Thoughts – Cincinnati should finish just above .500 in the conference, and have a nice season overall with seven or eight wins, but no ten wins and no championship. This team will have another prolific passing attack, but there are questions in the rushing attack and obviously the defense has several big questions. Rookies and first time starters will step up, but there will be growing pains, especially starting the season off with a conference game.

Will We Beat Them? – With big questions on defense, Syracuse may find the end zone a bit, but their offense is proven and battle tested. Syracuse’s defense has been a major blight last season. While the Syracuse secondary should not be as abused as last year, clearly Syracuse will not be able to stop everything Cincinnati throws at them, and therefore the Orange will lose this game on a spooky Halloween afternoon, probably full of Tony Pike nightmares.

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