Nice to have some game week fodder to talk about and Butch Jones gave us media folks 19 minutes and 12 seconds of it to digest on Tuesday.
For the record, the City BBQ has really taken a step in the right direction this year. It was moist, well-seasoned and the cornbread cassorole dish as a side item was delicious.
Since you don't care about that, however, we'll focus on the football developments to come out of the luncheon.
So, let's get right to it.
--- The biggest nugget of information to me was Jones said he is going to burn some redshirts of a few of the true freshman because they are ready to play.
Most notably, quarterback-turned-receiver Munchie Legaux will play against Miami.
Legaux appeared destined for a redshirt year behind Zach Collaros, Chazz Anderson and Brendon Kay, but the 6-5, 185-pound freshman from New Orleans recently moved over to wideout with the ineligibility of Kenbrell Thompkins and Dyjuan Lewis along with the ACL injury to Vidal Hazelton.
Legaux did it all at Edna Karr HS, but Jones said at Signing Day Legaux wouldn't play WR. Of course, a lot changed since then so he thinks this will be a great move.
CB Devan Drane should also see the first action of his career with the defensive backfield depth depleted by the season-ending injury to Dominique Battle.
CB Adrian Witty, DL Roney Lozano and WR Anthony McClung had already seen action as freshmen.
"The time is now," Jones said. "It's about winning now. We are never going to play somebody who is not ready. Our coaching staff has done a great job from the minute these freshmen walked in in August of preparing everyone. We want every freshman to come in with the mentality that they are going to play as true freshman. We do extra skill development sessions with them after practice. Some were maybe not quite ready Game 1, but Game 5, they're ready. Some will probably be ready Game 6 or Game 7. It is about putting the best personnel on the field. Not just on offense or defense, but on special teams as well, to win football games."
Jones continued and got more into Legaux's situation:
"In August, was he ready to play receiver? Nope. Did we ever think he would have to play receiver in August? No, because you are sitting there and you have a receiving corps of the players that you have. We have Vidal Hazelton, Kenbrell Thompkins and Dyjuan Lewis, now those three individuals are off your team. That is the thing about football. You never are the same team from Week 1 to Week 12. The teams that usually win on a consistent basis stay fairly healthy. Right now we have had to fight the injury bug a little bit. That is where the continual improvement with our youth has really shown and now some of these individuals like the Devan Dranes and Adrien Wittys and Munchie Legauxs and Roney Lozanos, now they are ready to help us win."
--- Jones pointed out that the combined record of the Bearcats' four opponents during the time they played that schedule was 14-4. Fresno State has gone on to 3-1, with only a defeat at Ole Miss as a blemish. NC State is 4-1 with only a loss last week to Virginia Tech. And, of course, Oklahoma followed up the win against UC with a victory in the Red River Rivalry and are undefeated at 5-0.
For the Oklahoma game, UC only had 12 players on the field that played at least one snap in the Sugar Bowl. Turnover and attrition have made a lasting impact in one year and the brutal stretch left some wear and tear on the Bearcats. It sounds like the week off went a long way to helping them recover.
"When you play so many young football players, a lot of time when you are preparing for your opponent you are not able to practice the fundamentals you need," Jones said. "I was excited to get back to the basics all week long. It was an opportunity to get our health back. I think we saw the accumulation of four physical football games. We played some hignly competitive teams. Just to get our health back, to get in the training room and come together as a team."
--- INJURY UPDATE: Drew Frey is 100 percent and will play on Saturday. Ben Guidugli will return to practice this Tuesday, expect him to play against Miami. Darrin Williams is still being evaluated and Jones will wait and see where he is at later in the week before making any committments.
--- The Bearcats desperately needed the confidence derived from the game against Oklahoma. With a week to think about it, even in defeat the confidence has grown around the team and Jones could sense that this week.
Jones pointed out Chris Williams started at safety for his first career start. Only thing is, he's long been a cornerback. Roney Lozano played his first game on the D-line. Anthony McClung made the first catch of his career. DB Camerron Cheatham played a major role. A lot of young players were taking part. For the team to hang in, particularly with that kind of inexperience on the field, meant a lot of the mentality going forward.
"You had a number of players, but we felt that they stepped up," Jones said. "Our players did gain some confidence. They understand that we have to play within ourselves, if we played fundamental football and play for 60 minutes we can play with anyone in the country.
"I saw leadership starting to form. Everything is about leadership and the morale of our football team. So that was very encouraging. That was very exciting, but that game is gone. We can't get that game back>
--- On top of the confidence, the Bearcats appear to have taken major steps in the right direction...except win, of course. Miami presents a prime opportunity to do so. Still, Jones doesn't necessarily think they need a win just to keep the players on board. They need a win because they need a win every week and they are competitive. You have to love Jones' resolve and belief in his system. All that said, a win sure would help expedite the process.
"Our players are starting to see the fruits of their labor. Has it happened slowly? Absolutely. Has it happened the way we wanted it to? No. We live in a microwave society. Those red steps that are in the
"Are we disappointed? Yes. Do we expect to win? Yes. There isn't anybody more competitive than our players and our coaching staff, but I think they see each week when we get closer and the big thing is we can't beat ourselves. We have been our biggest opponent sometimes in turning the football over. Again, not executing, 10 guys on the same page and one missing their assignment and it's a team game. What we have to do is play 11 as 1. We cannot turn the football over and we have to play with the tempo and style that we need to play at."
--- Earlier this week, Miami coach Mike Haywood talked about how Kerry Coombs has done such a good job recruiting in Cincinnati it has forced his hand to move some of his efforts to other areas.
Jones talked about hearing that compliment:
"I have seen a lot of his comments," Jones said. "We are going to take care of home. I said that from the minute I stepped on the podium December 16th. We are gong ito take care of home. We are going to put our focus and energy of representing the C and having individuals in this community that understand what it takes to represent the C. And also go out in the
--- Again, the game will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Nippert. You can view it on ESPN3.com, which you should have if you have Time Warner.
Dave Weekley will do play-by-play with Warrick Dunn on analysis. So you have that going for you, which is nice.