This may only begin the next phase of anticipation and waiting for UC football fans, but it sure beats reading another top 25 returning punters list.
Tha'ts right, football, today, Nippert Stadium.
UC opens practice and will be at Nippert for four days before heading off to West Harrison, Ind to Higher Ground to do the training camp thing.
The buzz has never been higher for this program and the questions have never been debated by so many. The Bearcats are officially on the national radar after back-to-back BE titles -- even if they don't receive the respect from the coaches' poll -- and having to deal with transition while in the bright lights.
As for what we're looking for over the next three and a half weeks? Defense, defense, defense. Nearly every unknown about this team begins on the defensive side of the ball. Five starters return from a defense that couldn't stop much of anybody down the stretch last year.
Depth is an issue. Experience is an issue. This team needs some emerging players on that side of the ball to step up. And do it now.
Walter Stewart needs to become a superstar. Derek Wolfe needs to become an NFL Draft pick. JK Schaffer needs to become the heart and soul of this team.
The offense is the known quantity, but the evolution of this defense that will likely have but one contributing senior, if that, will tell the story of the 2010 Bearcats.
I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the process.
That's enough of my ramblings, let's hit the links...
--- The Enquirer's Bill Koch provides a preview/glimpse at the beginning of fall practice. More good stuff from Bill.
--- In case you missed it on Friday, I put out the latest position analysis and spoke to offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian about the QBs. Of course, the majority is focused on Zach Collaros and I thought Bajakian offered some interesting points about Zach and his development.
Another fun position to watch will be the athleticism of freshman Munchie Legaux, more than likely he is destined for a redshirt this season -- depending on the health of Brendon Kay -- but if he shows off some of the speed and play-making ability that made his the No. 11 dual-threat QB in the country in high school, he may force his way into some special sets with this team. Maybe not, but it will be fun to see him on the field for the first time.
--- Butch Jones was ensconced in
velvet the WorldWideLeader on Friday and Brian Bennett has the First Take interview with Dana Jacobson. Luckily, Skip Bayless played no role in his TV work.
Jones was his standard solid self and handled all the BK transition questions for what will probably not be the last time.
--- Paul Daugherty took another look at Butch Jones and the energy he brings to the program.
--- AOL Fanhouse, one of the better sites out there for sports if you didn't already know, is putting out a season preview each day counting down its Top 25 teams. They have West Virginia at No. 24 and here is the story.
--- Dr. Saturday sizes up all the new coaches in the Big East. He also makes his final predictions with West Virginia being the recipient of a Pitt collapse and heading to the BCS.
--- Meanwhile, there are no excuses left for Pitt and Dave Wannstedt, as Pittsburgh Post-Tribune columnist Joe Starkey points out. Wannstedt will either be exposed or annointed depending on the outcome of their games this season. No more excuses. If you read this blog at all consistenly, you are aware of which way I see this going.
--- If you're a college hoopshead and a stats nerd you will love this piece from SI's Luke Winn. It includes the top five breakout players of 2010 by using all kinds of statistical theories and probably a a few uses of the sine/cosine button I never touch on the calculator. I'm not against stats, in basketball I actually think they are as valuable as in any major sport not named baseball,but there are so many other intangibles to figure out breakout stars, I wouldn't make this a complete slam dunk.
Anyway, kind of interesting. Of Big East note, it tabs Maalik Wayns of Villanova to break out. As Winn points out himself, you probably don't need any numbers to tell you that.
Who of UC would I have tabbed as the best candidate for his list of breakout sophomores? I think Jaquon Parker would be the best bet. When he found his comfort zone he was as indisposible as anybody on the floor last year. With a year under his belt, you would think it would be realistic he could be a 12-point, 6-board, 6-assist type player.
--- What did the fugitive look like officer?
Well, he is about medium build, medium height, and, oh yeah, he has a massive North Carolina tattoo on his face.
--- Anybody who has read my blog back to the CNati days knows all too well about my love of mustaches. And the fact that I am soon to be the owner of a carstache. Anyway, mustaches aren't just for gentlemen anymore. This one is for the ladies...and not in a creepy, you-might-want-to-wax-that kind of way.