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2012 Big East Previews: Cincinnati with Down The Drive

We're previewing the upcoming season with help from SBNation. Matt Opper from Down The Drive looks at Cincy football.

Butch Jones enters his third season at Cincinnati and has his sights set on back-to-back postseason appearances. The schedule looks to be in the Bearcats favor, with home games against Big East favorites Rutgers and USF in back-to-back weeks. They will travel to Landover, MD, for a neutral matchup with ACC challenger Virginia Tech.

2011 Record: 10-3

2011 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Vanderbilt, 31-24

2012 Bowl Projections:

Orlando Bowl History

N/A

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Return to form. Its three words, but they fit.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

Virginia Tech, hands down. The Big East has a bunch of teams that are relatively equal in terms of talent, ability, execution, etc. Some teams have more of one particular attribute than another, but the end result is parity. As such, the only team on the schedule this year that will have a clear and superior advantage will be the Hokies. It is a game that the Bearcats are eminently capible of winning with VaTech starting from scratch on offense. But they are a preseason top-10 team for a reason...two of them actually: Logan Thomas is a mutant quarterback (in a good sense) and they have a defense that you can set your watch to.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case: BCS trip number three in five seasons. Worst case: no postseason. With two FBS teams on the docket the Bearcats need seven wins to go bowling. It is reasonable to assume the seven wins, but it is not a foregone conclusion to say the least.

What kind of changes will we see in the Bearcat offense with a full season of Munchie Legaux at quarterback?

Much more running from the quarterback than was displayed by Zach Collaros in either of the last two seasons. Munchie is a phenomenal athlete with the ability to shred defenses with his legs or arm. It would be foolish for this staff to ignore that. I expect them to accentuate his athletic ability with their scheme giving him a greater chance to succeed. One thing I do expect to see alot more of is increased use of personnel packages to give defenses lots of things to think about.

The defense returns most of the starters, but will they be able to replace Derek Wolfe and JK Schaffer up the middle?

That’s the question. In truth, Solomon Tentman, Camaron Beard and Jordan Stepp don't have to replace Schaffer, Wolfe and John Hughes respectively, they just have to hold serve. The Bearcats committed fully to an attacking style of defense that plays to the strengths of the defensive personnel on hand.  That style has an added benefit in that it makes masking the inexperience of the three newest cogs upfront somewhat easier, because opposing offensive coordinators won't have the ability to zero in on the newbies in the middle while worrying about the Bearcats' Joker package and other wrinkles. UC won't be able to flumox offenses for the entire season using that sort of gameplan, but it will bide them time. An often overlooked facet of this team is how deep and talented the rest of the defense is, particularly at defensive end and cornerback. The plan for the coaches has to be to lean on guys like Deven Drane, Drew Frey, Maalik Bomar and most of all Walter Stewart at the start of the year while the three new starters in the middle get accostemed to their new roles. That way when opposing offenses do crack the nut that is the Bearcats attacking ways Tentman, Beard and Stepp will be ready.

Thanks to Matt and Down The Drive for helping out.

Big East Previews

  • Syracuse with Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician
  • USF with Voodoo Five

ACC Previews

About The Author

Matt Repchak
Matt Repchak

Matt (Tampa, Fla.) joined FCSports in 2005 after graduating from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He started in the communications department and gradually became the point person for all digital projects within the organization, including web, video and social.

Matt enjoys The Black Keys, Joss Whedon, Paul F. Tompkins and the Tampa Bay Rays.