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Bearcats Breakfast 9.16.11

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I'm almost as excited about Saturday's game against Akron for the chance to see UC play in The Nipp against as I am for the weather expected for the game.

Temps are expected to be around 70 by kickoff and dip down to the 50s Saturday night. That, my friends, is the epitome of football weather. Pack a jacket, maybe even bring a blanket and settle in.

To be fair, I won't be doing any of those things -- instead taking elevator to the press box and ideal room temperature conditions -- but maybe for one night I'll be jealous of the folks in the stands.

Of course, that jealousy evaporates at the season finale in December when you can't feel your toes and are being bombarded by snowballs tossed by the Bearcat.

Let's eat...

--- The Bearcats are heavy favorites to win tomorrow. Considering Akron's recent track record, this will be a game where victory doesn't define the game being considered a success. Too many improvements need to be made before NC State comes to town Thursday.

So, here's my weekly list of four points, this time in the four statistical numbers UC needs to reach to consider this game a success.

1. Continue the turnover streak. Only UC, West Virginia, San Diego State, Wisconsin and Texas A&M haven't committed a turnover yet this year. And the Bearcats are currently second in the country in turnover margin. Considering they were 119th in the land last year, to call that anything less than an incredible 180 would be an understatement. UC doesn't necessarily need to continue this streak to prove they have a renewed sense of ball security, but the longer they go without turning it over the longer they avoid possibly allowing a flood of turnovers to start.

Plus, the streak it so darn impressive I just want to see it go on a few more weeks.

2. Sack. The. Quarterback.
UC didn't reach Tyler Bray in Tennessee and it doomed them. Three hits on 40 QB passes won't cut it with this group. If they don't find a way to consistently pressure the passer this is going to be a long season. Let's face it, Mike Mickens isn't walking through that door. Well, actually, he is, but not in shoulder pads.

Akron is 120 out of 120 FBS teams in sacks allowed with 12. And it's not close. The next closest allowed nine. UC needs the pass rush to get healthy and do it in a hurry. I would say four sacks would be a desired number for this one with anything less than two being a disappointment. I'll even toss in the need for more than half to come from defensive linemen. Those guys are supposed to be the strength of this defense and Saturday is the perfect time to establish that.

3. Win by 28.
If UC plans to be a team that contends for a Big East title, Akron is a team they should beat by four touchdowns. Considering how anxious the Cats should be to wash the nasty taste of Knoxville out of their mouths, jumping out to that lead in a hurry shouldn't be an issue. I'm not saying winning by any margin wouldn't be the desired goal, but if we are judging if UC played well or not, I'd say they are about four touchdowns better than Akron. Set that as the measuring stick.

4. Rack up 300 passing yards for Zach Collaros. ZC has played well to this point, but a breakout game for the passing offense feels like the one aspect of this offense we expected to see that we haven't yet. Sure, he's thrown six touchdowns without an interception, but this is a day to break out some gaudy numbers and spread the ball around to the young receivers.

Maybe 300 will be unnecessary -- especially if Isaiah Pead continues his 11.5 ypc clip -- but you sure would love to see ZC go off before the big game against NC State. Remember, NC State is 112th in the country in pass defense.

--- LB Greg Blair has been cleared to play. Blair was mentioned by JK Schaffer and LBs/co-DC Jon Jancek as one of the top candidates at the third LB spot in camp. Eligibility issues regarding his JuCo transcript arose, but those are all good now. He could play as early as the Miami game. Any assistance whether at the starting level or providing depth is a welcome sight for this defense right now.

--- Tim Adams writes about the strong start from D.J. Woods. He has really become the rock of this young group of wideouts. The workmanlike way he approached the game in Tennessee, calling out how overblown us media types were making it -- was a sign of a guy not overwhelmed by any situation. He's always ready to go play football and never let the game be too big for him. Love that.

--- Zach Collaros' first game experience at QB came in a tight victory at Akron four years ago. Here's the recollection from Bill Koch.

--- Andrea Adelson on UC's sense of urgency.

--- As a reminder, Saturday's game will be on ESPN3.com and 102.7 WEBN.

--- Here's more than four minutes of video in the studio with Jason Kelce. He continues to play well as the Eagles' starting center.

--- Some love for Sean Kilpatrick from the SI basketball writers.

--- Found this 2008 team
intro video and thought it would be a nice touch as I sign off for the final time before gameday at The Nipp.







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