For a moment on Wednesday, I was able to do what numerous Oklahoma Sooners couldn't do in the last game against the UC Bearcats...catch Isaiah Pead. You see, Pead was my scheduled interview after practice, but I had to wait on some post-practice drills and then #23 was intercepted on his way out by a couple of former Bearcats who had stopped by--Alex Daniels and Brad Jones.
That discussion was then broken up by Bearcat Athletic Training Guru Bob Mangine who usually keeps his men walking the straight and narrow. He began imploring Pead to exit the Jefferson Avenue practice field and get into the whirlpool in the training room.
That's when Isaiah Pead started wrestling away from Mangine as if he were a middle linebacker, telling him he had to do his interviews. When Mangine saw it was me (longevity and loyalty occasionally has its upside) he told Pead that I would walk with him.
So, I limbered up my sore knees (that team orthopedist Dr. Angelo Colosimo has worked on) and caught the young back that broke Archie Griffin's high school records at Columbus Eastmoor Academy.
Not really. Pead's Division II 400 meter championship time is some 10 seconds better than anything I ever did on the old cinder track at Anderson. Still, Isaiah's a friendly sort, so he waited up for me to talk about his general overall soreness after rumbling through Oklahoma like a dust storm at Paul Brown Stadium.
"Still a little bit of nicks and bruises from the game, but that's part of football," said Pead of his breakout game full of breakout runs.
Had one particular long run not been negated by replay, Pead would've easily been over the 200-yard mark rushing. As it was, he finished with 169.
"That's just discipline," said Pead of spinning out of a tackle and nearly skipping off to the endzone last Saturday. "There was no whistle, so you keep playing. I didn't feel I was down either. I didn't even think I stepped out of bounds toward the end. The referees called the elbow 'grazing the grass' which made me down. The run was nice."
What Bearcat fans saw was a difference maker in the offense that had been sputtering without him early on this season. The moral victories aren't really fulfilling, but getting that kind of effort from Isaiah Pead week-to-week can only boost the confidence of the offense.
" It feels good," said Pead of his best game thus far. "Of course, the greater feeling would've been to actually get the win. I just wanted to come out and not be a bust to my team. They've been behind me (during) my whole injury. I just wanted to come out and be the spark that I can be."
What Pead can be is a perpetual headache to an opposing defensive coordinator. Plus, he's one of many Bearcats that openly expressed confidence in their chances of beating #8 Oklahoma and some of the fans caught on as gameday approached.
"You could tell from the good luck wishes we were getting from fans and family that their mindset was what ours was." said Pead. "We had got to the point as a team that we were going to do this for ourselves. We knew we could play with them. We knew that we could play with the last three losses that we have. We've got to stop making mental mistakes and get back (to) winning."
Getting back to winning is never easy, but realistically, with the Big East being down early, it's easy to be optimistic about the rest of the schedule. No game is a pushover, but three of UC's first four appear to be the strongest challenges they may face.
"Big East--we're in a big hole right now as far as overall records playing other teams," acknowledged Pead. "One thing you can say is the Big East plays each other hard. Conference games are going to be dogfights, all of them. We've got to gather ourselves, get the Victory Bell next week (vs. Miami) and then start working on our third ring."
Should there be a third ring, these early growing pains may be all worth it. In the meantime, Isaiah Pead needs to get to the whirlpool.
Seeing as interviews aren't allowed in there, this one is over.