So, the mood is a little serious around the UC football program after the disappointing opener last week. Fortunately, that's not the case for this week's mailbag. Many of you have questions, but thankfully, my inbox wasn't full of hate and rage.
It was more of confusion and general frustration. Sounds like every day of my life.
But the mood should improve after Saturday's game against Indiana State. The Sycamores are 2-22 under current coach Trent Miles. They just beat proud NAIA member St. Joseph's 57-7 for their first opening week victory since 1996.
Last year, SE Missouri State beat NAIA Quincy 72-3 the week before coming to play the Bearcats at Nippert Stadium. SE Mizzou then lost 70-3 to UC.
I would expect a similar score flip for Indiana State this year.
But, I know outside of those employed or enrolled at UC, nobody here is concerned about Indiana State. The state of the Bearcats offense, however, is an entirely different matter.
That's where most of the mailbag was focused this week, so let's get to the questions.
From Chaz in Troy,
Coach Jones spoke about the possibility of some position changes along the offensive line for the ISU game. We've also heard that many of the line's issues from the Fresno game stemmed from a lack of communication/missed line calls/not being mentally prepared. What changes will be made and was the Fresno game enough of a wakeup call to the line regarding focus? If they play that way in a few weeks against Oklahoma, oh boy...
Oh boy, indeed. If any of the Bearcats play the way they did against Fresno against Oklahoma, it will feel like 2002 all over again inside Paul Brown Stadium. I'll put an APB out for a disgruntled Corey Dillon.
To put all the onus on the offensive line for what occured last game is unfair. They deserve quite a bit of criticism, particularly up the middle where Logan Harrell broke through for 3 1/2 of Fresno's eight sacks. You can tolerate pressure from star end Chris Carter, but Harrell? A nobody who apparently isn't the ripest apple in the orchard according to this column?
Oh by the way, the Bulldogs recorded 11 sacks...all of last season.
As for your question(s), I wouldn't say the line wasn't mentally prepared, that is a bit strong. I think they looked like a unit with two new starters overwhelmed by multiple sets of circumstances occuring around them.
I can't tell you if this was enough of a wakeup call to change them around. You won't know until they hit the field first against Indiana State, but more importantly at N.C. State. I am not in the head of these kids, nor do I recommend that to anybody.
Changes? Well, Butch Jones put every offensive line position up for grabs and said he would announce the starters at the end of the week. As of this moment Friday afternoon, it appears only one change has been made and that is Randy Martinez taking the starting role of Evan Davis, according to Bill Koch.
Davis spent most of his night on Harrell.
But Jones needs to develop depth. In his preview interview with Tommy Gelehrter, he stated that there are probably some guys playing too many snaps right now. Indiana State gives an opportunity for some offensive lineman to rotate in. I look at this game as more of an audition for a number of guys to line up in front of Zach Collaros at N.C. State on Thursday.
More from Chaz:
The defense also played pretty well for most of the game, at least against the run. Will we see any changes in either the depth chart or plays called on the field for our defensive secondary? I know we're young back there, but man, the phrase "deeper than the deepest" is still burned into my head from my high school football coach.
I don't anticipate many changes on the defense. The young secondary fared relatively well. There was one blown coverage on the wheel route to Robbie Rouse, but they made a number of nice plays, including the interception by Pat Lambert.
Again, much like the offensive line, you may see some more players involved if/when the game gets out of hand, particularly some of the freshmen. But I wouldn't anticipate any significant changes.
Chaz, really piling it on now,
With the recent and very unfortunate injury to Vidal Hazelton, how does the depth chart at WR look now? Who will be seeing more playing time, even if it's in a backup/limited role?
The depth chart now has Marcus Barnett in a staring role. Barnett's story has been pretty well-documented this week and will continue to be as the year progresses. He was a star as a freshman and spent the last two seasons not seeing many snaps, including a move to defense last season.
He's undersized in comparison to Hazelton, but brings some quickness to the outside.
Behind him, O.J. Woodard will be his immediate backup. On the depth chart, soph. WR Danny Milligan, who had a great prep career at St. Xavier and shared the 2007 AP Ohio Offensive Player of the Year award, is listed as the backup in the slot. This injury could mean many more snaps than anticipated this year for him.
I can't find any mention of Jamar Howard, a 4-start JC recruit originally out of Withrow. I know he got hurt in the spring, but I've heard nothing since. Hurt? Not good enough? Redshirting?
UC only signed two offensive lineman last year, Kevin Schloemer and Clint Shepherd. I see that Schloemer is playing, but now I don't even see Clint's name on the Bearcat roster. Both were good 3-start recruits. What happened to Clint Shepherd?
Starting with Howard, he is healthy and on the roster. You will probably see some of him on Saturday. But he's not on the two-deep anywhere. Considering the lack of depth at that position, that is saying something. It's a sure signal his progress is not where it needs to be right now if he is going to be a contributor.
As for Shepherd, he has suspended his enrollment until January. The word from the folks at UC is an injury was a part of his decision.
There will be a tailgate for the UC/NCSU game on Sept 16 in Raleigh. Go to www.alumni.uc.edu/events to register or call 1-877-482-2586.
Good to know for all of you blowing off work or school for some Thursday night football. (Which neither myself nor anybody associated with GoBearcats.com condones)
We do condone school pride, of which I am sure there will be plenty of on Thursday in Raleigh. From what I have heard, it is a great town. And home of my cousin Joe Dehner Jr. Good people.
Just wanted to say the blog has become part of my daily morning routine of putting off work so I can read my favorite sites. Great, great stuff. I also joined the live blog last weekend while watching the beating and that was fun too.
Just a note to folks who may want to watch the game this weekend but live out of town like myself (NYC)....I happen to get Verizon Fios, which carries ESPN3, the online channel. It will be airing there, I believe. So this is another possible option for out of towners to see the game.
Thanks for the kind words and pass forth my apologies to your boss. And thanks for coming to the live blog, I can't say enough how much I enjoyed it and I thought it was a great side chat to be a part of while watching the game.
Ah yes, lovely ESPN3. Well, Time Warner just signed a deal so all those with TW should have access to it. It is supposed to have a channel, but I haven't see it yet, so you will have to check with them. If you go to ESPN3.com and put in your local TV provider you should be able to get the stream of the game, assuming your subscriber supports it. If not, it will pop up a box where you can petition your provider to do so. Which is a nice way of saying your SOL.
Of course, if you live in the area, Fox19 will have the game. It was originally scheduled to air on FoxSportsOhio, but a national FoxSports Big XII broadcast is pre-empting it.
I can't believe you said "It was a who's who of the coaching world headed by current NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan. It was honestly hard to believe all the great coaches that were a part of that team. Probably even harder to figure out how they didn't win more often."
Maybe you are forgetting the Super Bowl-winning Mike Tomlin. What has Rex Ryan done?
As a local Cincinnatian, I find it hard to give any credit to the Steelers. Or recognize their existence. But, for the sake of argument, I will give you the nod. He owns the ring. But, there are quite a list of credentials if you go back and look at that staff.
Here are some of the names of assistants under Rick Minter:
Mike Tomlin: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Super Bowl champion
Jon Harbaugh: Baltimore Ravens head coach
Rex Ryan: NY Jets head coach
Jimbo Fisher: Florida State head coach
Joker Phillips: Kentucky head coach
And, for the record, I love bologna. I think it's delicious and provides a lovely lunch.
--- Well, thanks again to everybody for all the well wishes and I hope everyone enjoys the home opener on Saturday. If you see me, I always accept High-5s, forearm bashes, Kid N'Play-style foot-locks, DAP (no explosion!) and handshakes (but only with a left arm shoulder grab).
Of you could just do what most women do and keep walking without noticing me.
Have a good weekend and see you at 11 a.m. at the live blog!