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Tuesday Lunch (8.30.11): It's a Fodderful life

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Every Tuesday during the season, Butch Jones and a few selected players meet with the media and talk about the upcoming week. The media, in turn, devour City BBQ and repeat the same jokes they've been telling since 2005.

So, (hopefully) every Tuesday afternoon I'll bring all the lovely fodder which comes out of this meeting of the Cincinnati media contingent. I'll have notes. I'll have quotes. And I'll likely update you on how many pieces of cornbread my guy Bill Koch puts down.

Moving forward...

--- The depth chart was released on Monday and Jones addressed a few of the more interesting storylines. I posed some questions about starting DB Deven Drane, unfortunately, you will have to wait until I splice together my powerful prose and talk to Drane himself to hear his comments. That story should be up later this week.

--- A question was raised in regards to placing freshman Ralph David Abernathy IV at kickoff returner considering the veteran returning options and stress on taking care of the football. A smallish frosh (5-7, 160 pounds) like Abernathy doesn't necessarily fit the mold.

"Ralph David adds another dimension back there to our kickoff return game," Jones said. "He has great speed. He understands what we are doing and we want to throw him in the fire a little bit."

Wanting to try new players at kickoff return makes sense considering UC finished 93rd in the country and seventh in the Big East in that category last season. The Cats only had one return longer than 40 yards all year.

Sounded like RDAIV will receive his chance, but the leash will be tight. With DJ Woods and Anthony McClung both waiting in the wings since they have experience doing the job last year.

--- The official word came down that Munchie Legaux will be the backup quarterback. No real surprise there.

"He is a little bit ahead of (No.3 QB Jordan Luallen) in terms of overall knowledge of our system of the volume Munchie can play with," Jones said.

Jones did go on to say that a Wildcat package exists with Luallen and he expects all three of his quarterbacks to see action this year in some capacity.

"(Luallen) is very dynamic with the ball in his hands. He'll add another dynamic in the run game with some speed options and some triple options."

--- Tight end Travis Kelce (ankle) will not play against Austin Peay. He is expected back for the Tennessee game, according to Jones.

Blake Annen was placed as the starting tight end with Adrien Robinson as his backup.

--- The predominant storyline this week will be how this year is different from last year. As I've talked about all season there is a significant difference in performance in the second year of a new coach's tenure.

Four of the last 10 national championships were won by coaches in their second season (Oklahoma, LSU, Florida and Auburn) and last year both teams in the title game were led by second-year coaches.

I'm not claiming UC will win the national title, only that the level of play raises significantly in those cases. Jones said that difference has been apparent.

"Our players understand the expectations," Jones said. "They understand the standard. They understand the different things that go into preparing for an opponent. There are no unknowns."

I can say there were quite a few unknowns on that flight to Fresno State last year.

Jones owns a better feel for his personnel as well this year. Being able to more precisely place his vision on the field and the players he knows will consistently carry that out will be a large advantage. He didn't know how one person would respond to his coaching style on gameday in Fresno last year. Or the coaching style of any of the position coaches. The comfortability goes a long way.

--- The always strong JK Schaffer talked a little bit about the expectations for this defensive unit that so many people are curious to see. As for his goals against Austin Peay, who uses a run-heavy attack, he wasn't afraid to be specific.

"I would say hold them to less than 50 rushing yards and a shutout," the senior MLB said. "That is what I expect. That is what our goal is. I don't really want to expect anything less."

We will revisit those goals Saturday night. 


--- Spoke with Zach Collaros
for about five minutes as well. I was focused on this young WR corps. Outside of DJ Woods and Anthony McClung, none of them have played a D-I college football game with significant snaps at WR.

The group is a long way from Armon Binns, DJ Woods and Vidal Hazelton which we were praising as one of the top trios in the country at this point last year.

While the game reps aren't necessarily there, ZC sees the depth at the position to be improved.

"I think we had a great offseason," he said. "The bubble helped out tremendously with the winter. We got a lot of throwing in. I have worked with all those guys. I think we have a lot more depth at receiver than in past years. That will help with wanting to play fast. The receivers have done a great job at camp. I am ready to see how it pays off."

When I asked him who had the highlight plays of camp, he specifically pointed out senior OJ Woodard with some acrobatic, one-handed receptions. Woodard may have gone up top, but when you've seen Armon Binns go after a jump ball, it's tough to be amazed.

"(Woodard) is a big and strong guy, (listed 216) pounds, can run," ZC said. "When a little corner is on him he can usually get through them to the ball. As for hang time and all the stuff, Armon's got him on that."


--- Jones said assistant coach Jahmile Addae is not currently a part of the coaching staff because of a health situation he's dealing with. They hope he will be fine, but former tight ends coach Mark Elder has moved to running back and Dave Johnson, previously at WVU, has taken over the tight ends.

--- In a classy move,
Jones opened the presser by expressing thoughts and prayers with former UC and current Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, whose father passed away.

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