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'Cats Must Keep Building

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When the Bearcats fell behind Syracuse 17-0, my buddy C. Trent Rosecrans - the former UC beat writer for the Cincinnati Post who currently works for CBSSports.com - sent out the following tweet:

 

I'm guessing the UCBearcats bandwagon is now officially empty.  We'll hear a smattering of Butch Jones talk Monday and back to dark ages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           

I'm sure there was an element of snark in C. Trent's tweet, but I really hope he's wrong.

 

I'm not going to sugarcoat the 31-7 loss to Syracuse - it was flat-out ugly and the Bearcats did not deserve to win.  But I hope that Bearcat Nation isn't bailing on Butch Jones after two months, or worse yet, writing off the last few years as a wonderful fluke.

 

"I told the team that we only know one thing and that's to go back to work," Coach Jones said after the game.  "There's nobody more disappointed than myself, but we have to deserve to win."

 

For starters, let's give Syracuse some credit for winning consecutive road games at USF, West Virginia, and Cincinnati.  With home games remaining against Louisville, Connecticut and Boston College, and a road game at Rutgers, I honestly think that my alma mater will win 9 or 10 games this year.  Doug Marrone has built a hard-hitting, disciplined team, and appears to be a shoo-in for Big East Coach of the Year.  But don't forget that he was 4-8 last year in his first year on the job - it didn't happen overnight. 

 

Secondly, the loss of Zach Collaros proved to be devastating for UC.  When Chazz Anderson stepped into the starting lineup and led the team to a pair of wins as a redshirt freshman, the veteran Bearcat defense held Marshall and Rutgers to 10 points apiece.  For lack of a better expression, Chazz strictly had to "manage the game."  With no seniors on defense this year, the 'Cats probably need to score at least three touchdowns to win a league game, and there's no doubt in my mind that a healthy Collaros could have done that against Syracuse.

 

As for the defense, I'm as guilty of anyone as thinking it would be better than it's been this season.  But I can't say that I'm shocked.  Last year's team gave up an average of 39 points in its last five games and lost six senior starters in Ricardo Mathews, Alex Daniels, Curtis Young, Andre Revels, Brad Jones, and Aaron Webster.  This year's team was bound to experience some growing pains on defense.

 

I thought the defense made progress yesterday as it sacked Ryan Nassib four times and forced two turnovers (think Collaros might have produced points on two drives that began at the SU 44 yard line?).  Syracuse finished with a pedestrian 262 yards of total offense.  But there are obvious weaknesses.  The safeties have struggled this season and the 'Cats still need to get more of a pass rush from their front four (only one of Saturday's sacks was by a lineman).  Don't be surprised if tight end Travis Kelce pulls a Connor Barwin and moves to defensive end when he returns from his suspension next year.

 

"The mark of good football programs is that you win together and you suffer through adversity together," Coach Jones said.  "That's what we're fighting right now.  But you learn a lot about yourselves in the face of adversity.  Nobody is going to quit here.  We're going to keep working and building."

 

Building is the key word.  In the last few years, the UC football program has attracted record crowds, improved its facilities, and won championships.  Nobody is happy with a 3-5 record, but there's no reason to think that this program can't continue to be one of the best in the Big East.      

 

In other words, the dark ages are ancient history.

 

I'd love to hear from you.  Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you're from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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1 Comment

Dan,

Miss you in Cincy full time. Thrilled you still have your Bearcat presence here.