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Bearcats take stock

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The 37-10 blowout loss to West Virginia left the Bearcats with nowhere to look but in the mirror.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.V. - Butch Jones offered no excuses.

 

Standing in a back room of Milan Puskar Stadium, only 15 minutes removed from one of the lowest points in an already season currently defined by lows, he couldn't avoid the obvious. The events of the previous three-and-a-half hours spoke for themselves.

 

During his time on the sidelines as an assistant at West Virginia, Jones' teams devoured numerous opponents who lacked attention to detail in the same fashion of Saturday's blowout.

 

His team wasn't supposed to be one of those. This program hasn't been one of those. Three consecutive losses and 37-10 means that's the unfortunate reality of where this team stands right now.

 

"Right now we don't play with any attention to detail," Jones said. "It's frustrating. All the small things lead to big things."

 

The big things were clearer than the sea of gold surrounding the field.

 

The Bearcats didn't convert a third down in a dozen attempts.

 

They set a school record for the fewest rush attempts in a game with 16. And for the first time in 30 games, they didn't throw a touchdown pass.

 

Zach Collaros threw two interceptions and fumbled.

 

Following a three-and-out to start the game Munchie Legaux backed into a punt for a turnover.  

 

A West Virginia offense with five touchdowns in the previous three Big East games scored four before halftime.

 

UC committed 10 penalties for 96 yards --- each coming at a worse time than the previous.

 

"Before we knew it, it was 28-0," Collaros said.

 

You don't fall behind in Morgantown when West Virginia owns the fourth-ranked defense in the country. Unfortunately, the Bearcats did.

 

Even when attempting to pull themselves back following a touchdown on the first drive of the half and three-and-out, another devastating roughing the passer penalty all but put the Bearcats away. Fitting they did it to themselves. That's the reality Jones and the Bearcats couldn't hide from. They lost to West Virginia and they beat themselves.

 

Coaches and players could fill the entire five-hour bus ride back to Cincinnati discussing what went wrong and how the Bearcats ended up in the surreal situation of needing three wins in a row just to avoid going from BCS to bowl ineligible. Doing so would be a waste of energy.

 

"There's only two things you can do, you can turn back or come in with a mentality to work," Jones said. "No coaches are used to this, our players aren't used to this. Winning is what's expected here. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us."

 

Perhaps the bigger key is UC not feeling sorry for themselves. The Bearcats didn't give the impression of a team beaten despite the 37-10 final score. k

 

"We are a team that doesn't give up," said J.K.  Schaffer, who notched a game-high 16 tackles. "W are going to keep playing no matter what. I know my guys pretty well and we are not going to lay down."

 

Nobody liked what happened on Saturday. The numbers speak for themselves.

 

But Jones still believes his team buys in. He still sees three more opportunities left in front of him. Pundits may not love his team much anymore, but Jones still does.

 

"I love our football team," he said. "I love our kids. We are going through some things that are uncharted waters right now for our coaches and for our players. Our faith is being tested by adversity. Through adversity we are going to be stronger for this."

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