The Bearcats leave for N.C. State today. Due to other obligations, I won't be in Raleigh, but it's the only road game I will miss this year.
But the live blog lives on! Make sure you swing by here from an hour before the game until it ends as I will be answering questions and moderating discussions about any number of topics, and most assuredly multiple references to a One Man Wolfpack.
Let's talk football...
--- The Fayetteville Observer isn't exactly free of errors, but they do have a nice story on local Elder product Jeff Rieskamp, who will be starting for the Wolfpack on Thursday night.
Coach Tom O'Brien and assistant Dana Bible also have Cincinnati ties, as graduates of St. Xavier. Bible was also involved with the Bengals for a while, before both went to Boston College then NC State together.
Kevin Kelly at the Enquirer also has a story on the local ties.
--- In case you wanted to see all of Butch Jones' press conference from Tuesday, here is the full video. I guess you will have to buy the DVD and check out the deleted scenes for the UC SID Ryan Koslen cameo, as his open was unfortunately cut from the final product.
--- I posted a blog yesterday about the Bearcats search for explosive plays and dug relatively deep into the numbers. The Bearcats haven't been able to hit many big chunks this year and it's something Butch Jones hopes to correct on Thursday.
--- The only significant news to come out of the media availability yesterday was the status of RB Isaiah Pead. Jones said Pead will be a gametime decision and will be listed as questionable on the injury report.
Following the Indiana State game Jones made it sound like Pead would be in the starting lineup on Thursday, but reported that this week the swelling in his knee hasn't reacted as expected. Pead has and will continue to practice this week.
"Every day he gets better and better, but we won't make a decision right now," Jones said.
"Some people's body heals faster than others. We are never going to do anything to warrant further injury. Right now he is progressing, but probably not as fast as we would have liked him."
As for the ramifications of the injury, they aren't as severe as we would have imagined a week ago. That's thanks to the performance of Darrin Williams and John Goebel against Indiana State. They led the rushing attack as the Bearcats racked up 263 yards on the ground, one of the highest totals since the beginning of the Brian Kelly era.
Jones had this to say about Williams and Goebel on Tuesday:
"We gained a lot of confidence in Darrin Williams. He really stepped up. We talk about IRU, indisputable role understanding -- however you want to term it, next man in --but everyone understanding their role. Darrin Williams, ever since we walked in here, he had great spring ball. And you could see the fruits of his labor he had a great training camp and he came in and performed well. I was also excited about the performance of John Goebel. He gave us an emotional spark. He was very solid in pass protection and we ask a lot of our running backs. So, I am excited that both Darrin and John were able to step up Saturday and we are going to need great efforts from them Thursday night, along with Isaiah."
One of the important pieces of that quote was the mention of pass protection. One of the most overlooked losses from last season was Jacob Ramsey. Ramsey was excellent in chipping off blocks and picking up blitzes for Tony Pike and Zach Collaros. The RB position needed to be an extension of the offensive line against Fresno, but as can be said for all the parties involved in protecting the QB, didn't have the best night.
Goebel in particular, brings a little more recognition and assurance in protection than Williams and Pead, just by being a fifth-year senior and bigger body. If he can bust through for two touchdowns, that wouldn't be bad, either.
--- Bill Koch talks about the importance of the N.C. State game. Without looking too far into the future and running through countless scenarios, the bottom line is these are the games this team --- and this conference --- needs to win.
The Big East is currently 0-6 against other BCS schools, including the WAC and Mountain West.
--- Butch Jones' blog has great stuff and the inside look video at the win over Indiana State is no expection. It's a great look at some of the locker room speeches and sidelines footage from Saturday.
--- Pitt experienced a big loss when All-American DE Greg Romeus announced he will undergo back surgery and miss the majority of the season.
Romeus is a potential first-round pick and the playmaker on that defense. It sounds like they expect him back for UC, but if the Panthers can't overcome that loss prior, the game might not mean as much.
--- The invitation to Villanova to help fill out the Big East football product has gone over with mixed reactions. Jeff Jacobs at the Hartford Courant could do without it.
--- Today's randomness takes us to Illinois for the state fair hog-calling contest (h/t Extra Mustard). Having been to a state fair in Arkansas (please don't judge me), I would have assumed this was from there. Regardless, be afraid, be very afraid.
Is the microphone necessary?