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In preparation for upcoming games this fall at Paul Brown Stadium, the University of Cincinnati football team held a Sunday workout at PBS, April 10.

The day was blessed with temperatures in the 80s for the nearly two hour workout.  A pair of Croswell buses drove the Bearcats down the hill into town for the practice on the Bengals field.

"We're going to be playing here twice this coming season," coach Butch Jones said. "It was a great workday today. Very valuable for our football team."

UC is slated to play Louisville, October 15 along the Ohio River and then West Virginia on November 12.

Adding two Big East games to the bigger stadium instead of what would be a jam-packed Nippert Stadium is somewhat controversial (depending on whom you speak to).

As with most things that people find puzzling, the answer is usually money.

This was Coach Jones' response when asked if he anticipated more games being moved to the professional structure.

"We'll continue to progress," Jones said. "They way I look at it, we have two great venues. We have Nippert and we have Paul Brown. Tell me another school in America that has that option."

So far, UC has only played Ohio State and Oklahoma in PBS.  This will be the first time the Bearcats have hosted a league game at someplace other than Nippert. (In the Riverfront Stadium days, they were not in a league.)

"I'm excited to play our games in Nippert," Jones said, "But also, to venture downtown, the atmosphere we had for Oklahoma (last year) was electric. We need the city to come out and give us a home field advantage. We're playing two football programs that traditionally travel exceptionally well (Louisville and West Virginia), so we have to do a great job of putting a product on the field that our fans want to come support."

As far as Isaiah Pead's concerned, he doesn't mind the bus ride downtown.  Last season against Oklahoma, Pead ran for 169 yards on 21 carries against the Sooners. That's not counting a run that was called back when a portion of Pead's glove touched the turf and he was ruled down.

"This is home," Pead said with a smile. "Our fans love this atmosphere. We love the atmosphere. Same for Nippert Stadium. The fans love the Bengals stadium, we can use it as a home field advantage as long as our folks are here."

For some of the guys, it's a rare chance to play in a pro stadium.  Occasionally, the Bengals will draft a Bearcat, or bring a few in for a free agent look, but most UC players won't play another down at Paul Brown Stadium beyond their college careers.

"It's always a good feeling to be around a pro facility," Pead said. "It makes you that much more hungry."

Hungry is a good thing for these Bearcats.  At 4-8 last season, coach Jones didn't think they were hungry enough.  Or tough enough, for that matter.

"We use a term in football called, 'soft'," Jones said. "We were a very soft football team last year and football is a tough game. We use a thing called 'C Tough'. When you were the C-Paw, you're going to play the way football should be played."

To remedy that, toughness has been emphasized and the day prior to being at PBS, the Bearcats banged pads with great intensity (much to the delight of their coach).

"It's the most physical we've been since we've been here," Jones said of a 95-play scrimmage in the rain.

The 2011 offense looks to still feature quarterback Zach Collaros, but early indications point toward a little more emphasis on ball control.


Well, not exactly Big 10 style football, but probably a little more grinding than in years past. While Isaiah Pead has been the feature back, others will have opportunities to "tote the loaf" or "slobberknock" someone so another guy can get a yard.

"You can never have enough running backs," Jones said. "I'm excited not only with Darren (Williams) and Isaiah (Pead) but with George Winn. He's really had a very consistent spring."

It's clear Jones wants to make use of his backs abundantly more than his predecessor Brian Kelly did.

"They've figured out how to run behind their pads and run with a physical presence," Jones said.

With that, Jones walked toward Isaiah Pead as he was taking his pads off and said,"See this guy? He's learning how to be a real running back!"

How does the senior Pead describe a "real running back"?

"Not just a runner, sometimes you've got to get nasty, you've got to get dirty," Pead said. "Stick your nose in the line and get back to the line of scrimmage to live to play another down. Everything's not going to be a home run ball."

Pead was on a roll at that point, effectively recreating a Butch Jones lecture on offfensive backfield play.

"Getting reads, learning where to stick it up, using your athletic ability to get to the outside and make a guy miss," Pead continued. "Same thing with blocking. Help with the lineman, pretty much the dirty business."

Pead has bulked up a tad for these important responsibilities and knows these skills are the make or break things that could land him an NFL job a year from now.

"I should've picked up on this a little bit sooner, but better late than never," Pead said. "It's what I've been told scouts look for. Above all that, that's what the team needs. They need a physical running back."

Adding more physicality to a game that racked up 1,029 yards rushing and 26 grabs for 190 yards through the air can only help both parties.

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