The Bearcats head to Higher Ground after an early practice today. They will be training up there for the next 13 days. I will have regular reports on the quality of the buffet food. And probaby some football stuff.
Plenty to get to today, so...
--- Brian Bennett chose Walter Stewart as the best hybrid defensive player in the Big East. Everybody I talk to about UC -- and in particular, their defense -- I talk about Stewart. He is the quintessential playmaker on a defense in dire need of them. I got more into the specifics of what his role will be at LB and DE with both LBs coach and co-DC John Jancek and DL coach Steve Stripling in the position analysis series. Those are here with Jancek and here with Stripling.
In the spring, Josh Katzowitz wrote about Stewart's love for football and transition into the hybrid role, much in the same light at Connor Barwin two years ago.
The Bearcats need Stewart to play like Barwin. Maybe not to his same skill level immediately, but a similar amount of disruption. His ability to pressure the QB off the edge and create mismatches from different positions can do wonders to take pressure off a young secondary -- particularly in the early portion of the season.
--- Bill Koch wrote a piece on Isaiah Pead and the impact he expects to have this year in Butch Jones' system.
I wrote a little about this in the running back analysis posted yesteraday, but want to revisit it briefly.
Bill touches on the fact Pead isn't mentioned among the elite of the Big East. That fact is undisputed. Dion Lewis and Noel Devine are the top tier and everyone else is looking up at them. Their numbers dictate that. The key number being the significant number of carries each earned last year in comparison to Pead.
Pead finished with 121 while Lewis (325) and Devine (241) earned many more.
In the RB analysis, I made the contention based on Jones' track record with running backs at Central Michigan that Pead would likely garner somewhere around 130-150 carries this season and -- if he holds near his average -- 900-1,000 yards.
I want to delve deeper into where those numbers come. You might not want me to, but it's my blog, so I'm doing it anyway.
Jones inherited Ontario Sneed from Brian Kelly when he arrived at CMU in 2007. Sneed was a two-year starter and one of the stars of the program. Sneed was a similiar back to Pead, both near identical height and build.
Sneed finished the 2007 and 2008 seasons with 124 and 119 carries, respectively.
Sneed carried between 10-15 times a game under Jones and somewhere around 2-4 receptions per contest, but missed some games, likely due to injury, though I don't know that for certain.
It should also be mentioned that Sneed's yards per carry dipped from 5.7 under Kelly in 2006 to 4.4 under Jones in 2007. With Jones using more of the running game out of the spread, particularly with QB Dan LeFevour, it could have been a product of teams focusing more on stopping the rush.
Those types of carries would seem about right for Pead this year. I would imagine he would be treated much like Sneed. So, at an average of 12 carries a game and if he can keep his yards per carry average at his 2009 Big East best 6.7, he would finished with almost right at 1,000 yards. If it were to dip down around 6 yards per carry, he would finish in the 900 range.
I'm not 100 percent sure why I felt the need to validate my statistical analysis, but did want to make the comparison to Sneed to have a living example of how we should expect Jones to handle Pead. Now, Jones may have learned from those years and decided he didn't utilize his primary back enough or thinks that Pead is a much better talent and must give him more opportunities.
Bottom line, history dictates we shouldn't expect Pead to receive anywhere near the 230+ carries that Devine and Lewis receive, but becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher for UC in the Big East should be a realistic goal.
--- The News Record writes about Chazz Anderson preparing as if he were the starter. Given the recent history around the program, that would be a good idea. At this time last year, nobody thought Zach Collaros would mean much to this team, either.
--- The Zach Collaros diary continues at Cincinnati.com. This entry is particularly insightful to the differences between Brian Kelly and Butch Jones.
I get asked this question a lot, about seeing a difference between the two. You don't need to look any further than the family enviornment Jones tries to create. He wants to be a part of -- and a have a positive affect on -- every aspect of his players' lives. And he wants them all to feel the same way about each other. Say what you will about BK, that wasn't his M.O. Winning games was. And he was damn good at it. Jones believes he will be, too.
I'm not saying either is right or wrong, but this diary entry gives a great glimpse at how Jones is achieving that atmosphere.
--- The temperatures were touching 120 degrees on the field yesterday. The Bearcats folks were taking precautions.
--- Tom Gelehrter talks with Armon Binns about the Biletnikoff Award and everyone's favorite topic right now: upper-lip growth.
--- I spent some time talking with Derek Wolfe yesterday for an upcoming story. This was my first meeting with the 300-pound behemoth on the line and I can say I was as impressed with him as I was with the wild, sprawling tattoo that donned his right arm. Mel Kiper has also been impressed by Wolfe, since he says he is the most NFL-ready player at UC.
--- Good to see Deonta Vaughn land on his feet. Vaughn picked up a gig playing basketball in Poland. Vaughn, despite the struggles of his senior season, was always one of the good guys both on and off the court. I hope his game comes together and he puts together a heck of a career, whether in Europe or elsewhere.
--- The Bearcats baseball team is having walk-on tryouts next month. I have some eligibility, but I am assuming they aren't in the market for a pitcher commonly classified as "ineffectively wild."