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Miami Gets "Bat-ted" Around

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Butch Jones wore an interesting black t-shirt to practice on Friday.

 

It featured a white Batman logo on the front with a C-paw in the middle and it served as a reminder to his players.

 

"We always have a theme of the week and this was 'The Bat Game,' Jones said after Saturday's 45-3 win over Miami.  "We wanted to be like bats flying around all over the place at night.  Our kids were so proud and so excited to play a night game at Nippert Stadium.  They kept saying, 'Coach - wait until you experience a night game at Nippert.'  We wanted to play like bats and fly around with great effort and I thought we did that."

 

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The theme seemed especially appropriate after watching Isaiah Pead rush for a career-high 197 yards on 10 carries before sitting out the entire second half.

 

Like a bat, Pead darted rapidly in every conceivable direction to avoid Miami tacklers.  The junior from Columbus has rushed for 364 yards in his last two games.

 

"It's special to watch him play," said quarterback Zach Collaros.  "He's my favorite player since I first got here so it's cool that I'm handing him the ball now."

 

"He's playing with a lot of confidence right now," Coach Jones said.  "The offensive line did a great job and Isaiah is one of our big playmakers.  He averaged over 19 yards a run - that's a pretty good night."

 

Pead missed the Indiana State game and did not carry the ball against NC State due to a knee injury, and it is obvious that Cincinnati is a different team with him in the lineup.  Not only does he enhance the running game, but the threat of Isaiah going the distance on any play prevents the opposing defense from making an all-out assault on the quarterback, giving Collaros more time to throw. 

 

"I'm really focused," Pead said.  "When I sat out those two games I was able to get more film study in and talk to the offensive line.  I didn't want to come back in and be a bust."

 

Instead of a bust, he's been a beast.  As I tweeted at halftime of the Miami game, I don't think I'd trade Pead for any running back in the Big East (and yes, I've heard of Dion Lewis and Noel Devine).

 

Isaiah had a career-best 80 yard touchdown run against the RedHawks, and just missed another long TD as he got tackled at the 3 yard line after a 69 yard sprint.

 

"My whole mentality is to score - just score," Pead said.  "By any means necessary - whatever you have to do, just scratch and claw and score.  It's disappointing some times as a running back to make a guy miss and then not top it off by scoring a touchdown." 

 

But Isaiah was certainly not disappointed in the outcome as UC retained the Victory Bell for the fifth straight year.

 

"This whole game was for the seniors," Pead said.  "We had never won the bell five years in a row, so this was for the seniors because we feed off of them."

 

"I thought we had our best week of preparation to date and it showed," Coach Jones said.  "We had to control the game up front and I thought our front seven controlled the game." 

 

Now that the Bearcats have secured the Victory Bell, they'll try to hold on to the Keg of Nails for the third straight year as UC opens Big East Conference play on Friday night at Louisville.

 

"There are no pushover games," Pead said.  "We're in the Big East now and we have to be focused in every game and stop making mistakes.  We have to play with a chip on our shoulder because we're the two-time Big East champs."

 

No custom-designed t-shirt needed this week.  If Butch Jones is looking for a motivational theme, there should be plenty of "2-Time Big East Champion" items available at the bookstore.

 

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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