What UC will actually look like in ’14’-’15 is still very much up in the air. The Riverboat Gambler didn’t tip his hand all that much in year one, but I imagine with the current tools at his disposal he could definitely show us a ton of reasons why he was bestowed such an awesome nickname. The schedule is shaping up to be an exciting ride, and although it would take a totally unblemished season to get to the promised land of the College Football Playoff, there should be plenty of moments to cheer about in the upcoming season.
Let’s take a look at some of the key stories for the squad as we start a new campaign.
No Plan “B”earcats: Two Weeks Late
This has Bearcats fans everywhere frustrated. Having the Bearcats on the metaphorical sideline while seemingly every other team in the country revs up their own respective fan bases is frustrating. I imagine we’re all as frustrated as poor Milton in Office Space passing out every piece of cake at Lumbergh’s birthday
The Gunner Kiel Era Begins
Gunner has been named QB1, and I don’t think anyone has ever been this excited about a starting quarterback at the University of Cincinnati, let alone one that hasn’t played a single down at the college level. Not even Tony Pike, the Reading High School Legend, saw this kind of preseason hype and all he did was take Cincy to their first and only two BCS bowl games. But I would put my level of faith in this guy just ahead of Johnny Moxon and Shane Falco. And it’s because this guy seemingly has all the tools to be the best Bearcat QB ever to grace our beautiful campus. I would, however, caution fans to taper their expectations just a little bit for the start of this young kid’s career. I do think that eventually he will be as good as we all hope and wish, but give the kid a few games under his belt before you start anointing him like I just did.
The Play of The Lines
Both Eric Lefeld and Silverberry Mouhon are on preseason watchlists as some of the country’s best for their respective positions: Lefeld for the Outland Trophy (Best Offensive Lineman) and Mouhon for the Rotary Lombardi Trophy (Best D. Lineman). Quick side bar, Silverberry still has the best name in all of college sports. I’ll see your D’arrick, God’s Gift, and Cashmere, and raise you a goddamn Silverberry. Also, best part is his brother, a freshman linebacker on the team (and a really good one at that), is named “Kevin”. But outside of these two studs, there will be a lot of new guys looking to stand up on both sides of the ball. Long time defensive tackle and defensive leader Jordan Stepp has graduated, and it will be interesting to see if Junior Brandon Mitchell can step up and be the new plug in the middle for run stopping. On the O Line, there are starters back from last year’s Belk Bowl squad (Keebler, Boyd the best among them), but they lose 3 year starter Austen Bujnoch also to the cap and gown. It was a crew that saw Brendon Kay’s jersey pretty grass stained throughout the 2013 campaign. Here’s to hoping the guys can put together a great season as a unit and not individual performers.
Loaded at the Offensive Skill Positions
This is by far the most gifted group of athletes UC ever has had, including the groups of Gilyard and Binns. And it all has to do with some serious depth. The Bearcats have ridiculous speed guys in Shaq Washington and RDA IV (moving back to the slot thank heavens).
Playing the Entire Season at Paul Brown Stadium
On the surface, playing the entire year in the “House that the Browns Built But Never Paid For” does put a little damper on the season for all of us as fans. Nippert is home for UC, and it offers a unique and crazy atmosphere that many other stadiumsaround the country don’t offer . But the good news is that unlike in year’s past, this is to offer time for much needed renovations to the heart of campus (luxury suites, added capacity, expanded walkways) that will make future games at the Nip more enjoyable and allow for easier access to the beer lines.
I have already mentioned a quality away game against Miami (Florida, Miami Oxford hasn’t been a qualtiy road game since Big Ben was still poppin’ champagne at Top Deck), but everyone is really looking forward to the road test against the Buckeyes of Ohio State at the end of September. All bias aside, this game and atmosphere leading up to it will be great for the state of Ohio as a whole and gives UC a chance to put or shut up after printing those “BUCkeye State” t-shirts back in 2009 (I wonder if Gilyard ever tried to sell THAT shirt for tattoos). Win or lose, these games will be a measuring stick for how well UC can stack up against some of the better competition in the NCAA. Also, don’t overlook a late game against the East Carolina Pirates. ECU is a really good team with a lot of returning talent, and a team I think has a good shot to upend South Carolina in Columbia this weekend (and a subsequent Ole Ball Coach heart attack). After watching UCF play Penn State tough over the past weekend, this is looking like a three team race for the AAC crown.
So hang in there. We’re now only a week away from kickoff. Snag a ticket to week one for the showdown against Toledo and cheer your rear ends off, because this team is going to deserve it. And last time I checked, beer is still acceptable at Paul Brown Stadium. Just be sure to only consume too much if the Bearcats aren’t performing… or if it’s a nice day.