Bearcats Breakfast 9.26.11

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The Big Weekend for the Big East turned out to be a big flop. That is, after UC took its turn.

The conference had three big opportunities at home to establish itself again as a power conference, but much like last year, the non-conference schedule got the best of the them. Winning two of the three games between NC State@UC, ND@Pitt and LSU@WVU would have signified a weekend that would have turned some heads. Instead, Brian Kelly again made Panthers fans squirm and the SEC proved, yet again, that it is the NFL's version of Triple-A baseball.

Individually for UC, you can argue these results were positive. If you want to look at the conference right now, South Florida looks like the current frontrunner with UC and West Virginia leading a pack of unknowns following behind. That's how I see it and Andrea Adelson at the Big East Blog agrees.

As everyone experiencing the euphoria from Thursday night knows all too well, much can change in a week.

We'll take some time looking at Miami this week, but the Big East conference schedule kicks off most everywhere else. South Florida can see all the goodwill and joy about their non-conference exploits dimished if they can't come out of Pitt on Thursday night with a win. If the Panthers pull off the win, we will officially be off, running and wide open in the conference -- much as we thought we might be when the season began.

Let's eat...

--- JK Schaffer was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after his game against N.C. State. Deserved. He finished with nine tackles, an interception and half a tackle for loss.

While doing a radio segment with Andy Furman prior to the game Thursday, he asked about JK Schaffer and it was the easiest question I had to answer all week. He's Mr. Consistency. You know what you will get from JK, in a big game he's going to probalby lead you in tackles with 8-12, be around the ball all day and give you a few big plays in the process.

That's exactly what he did Thursday. He wins the defensive player of the week award, but it could be more of a lifetime achievement. Schaffer does this consistently. Unfortunately, due to some of the struggles of the UC defense it many times goes without merit.

Take a look at Schaffer's stats against BCS opponents the last two years.

Team            Tackles-Int-Sacks

NC State            16-0-0
Oklahoma           13-1-0
Louisville              7-0-0
USF                    4-0-0
Syracuse             9-0-1
WVU                  16-0-0
Rutgers                7-0-2
UConn                 9-0-0
Pitt                     10-0-0
Tennessee           12-0-0
NC State              9-1-0

That's 10 of 11 games with at least seven tackles and 5 of 11 with double digit tackles. He's contributed a big play, whether interception or sack, in 4 of 11.

This list doesn't include the Austin Peay and Akron game, both of which he had an interception. That's right, he's picked off a pass in three of the first four games this year. That leaves him tied for 7th in the country in interceptions per game at 0.75. Along with Southern Miss' Korey Williams, they are the only linebackers in the top 15.

--- Pat O'Donnell was
named Special Teams Player of the Week. Apparently, all you have to do is average 59.7 yards per punt to pull that off.

O'Donnell is now averaging 47.6 yards per punt. For the record, if he could hold that average it would be good for the 18th best single season the NFL.

One of those punts Thursday was the running, rugby-style kick that got some good roll. It got me thinking -- where did this things come from? Why do teams use that?

Where else to go then to Kevin Huber, who had some insight to it.

"I think it originally started with teams that had punters that were more of an athlete that could...give them a run option. You can roll out and (run) if it is open. I know when Coach Kelly's staff came in coach Elston, special teams coach, kind of explained to me that their punter was an athlete who was pretty fast, but it wasn't really formed like your typical punter, he wasn't great at that, but gave the option if it was open just to go.

"I am not a huge fan of it."

Did they ever ask him to do it?

"Yeah, we did one time. It got blocked. And I told them we weren't going to do it again."

--- Using this stuff from Huber reminds me, I haven't been able to post my interview with Armon Binns yet through all the N.C. State game rehash.

Binns, who signed to the Bengals practice squad last week, on a fun twist of fate actually ended up with jersey No. 85. He was one of about six receivers the Bengals brought in after WR Jordan Shipley went down with an ACL injury. Marvin Lewis said they expressed interest in bringing both Binns and Vidal Hazelton in when the lockout broke, but both thought they had better opportunities elsewhere.

Here are a few nuggets from Armon.

On his experience being cut by Jacksonville:

"I learned a whole lot I didn't know coming out of college. You are fresh, you are wet behind the ears, you learn a lot about the game and what is expected of you at this level."

Being back in Cincinnati:

"It is incredible. It is so good to be back here in a familiar environment around people I know, be around fans and people who know me and embrace me, it's just good to have a new opportunity to attack, to get better every day and do my best to try to be a contributor on this team. They were one of the teams that contacted me during the free agent period. For whatever reason I didn't decide to come here.

I was talking to my mom a few days ago, not knowing how crazy it would be to be back here. To see the UC games, be in a familiar environment, to have it happen is a great experience."

--- Isaiah Pead yards per carry
watch: He is averaging 7.85 yards on his 54 carries. That number is good for 5th in the country (minimum 40 carries).

Here's the list:

Henry Josey, Mizzou        43-12.40
LaMichael James, Oregon 65-9.43
Eddie Lacy, Alabama        41-8.90
Waymon James, TCU       40-8.60
Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati     54-7.85

The next closest in the Big East is Darrell Scott of USF with 53-6.57.

For those of you asking about his NFL Draft prospects, that situation is always fluid, but most projections I have seen list him somewhere in the middle rounds. NFLDraftScout has him as the No. 2 overall RB prospect (only includes seniors) and a third-round selection.

He certainly didn't do anything to hurt himself in front of eight NFL scouts and a national TV audience Thursday.

Here is a cutup of every Pead touch from Thursday night. This illustrates what a great job the coaching staff did sticking with the running game and allowing Pead to break out. (H/t Down the Drive)

--- Great deal on Groupon
for UC tickets through Tuesday. Check the details here, but $25 you get one ticket to either UC v Louisville or WVU at Paul Brown, two tickets to any UC non-con home game and four tickets to any women's hoops game.

--- Butch Jones followed up
with Bill Koch this weekend and admitted UC needed that game on Thursday. Not news to any fan, but is news that Jones said so. We'll see how much momentum this win creates, but it sure made a difference for NC State who used it to launch them to 9-4 last year.

--- Saw this on a couple of message boards, so figure I would briefly address it -- though I think this is a little early to be broaching the topic.

When would UC potentially be ranked in the Top 25?

If the Bearcats were to beat Miami and Louisville they might start receiving a few votes at 5-1, if they were then to go to Florida and beat an undefeated USF team, that would likely put them on the brink of breaking through.

Depending on how convincingly UC were to -- in theory -- beat Miami and Louisville, would likely determine if they were ranked prior to Pittsburgh or after a potential win against the Panthers.

To reiterate, I am in no way saying any of this will happen, but only speaking to the question raised of how many consecutive wins it would take to break into the Top 25. There you go. I'd prefer not visit this again until it actually happens.

--- Randomness...

--- Tell me Jeff Demps
doesn't look just like Forrest Gump on this run.

--- Alabama hosting LSU
on Nov. 5 will be the game of the season. Wow, are those two impressive. In my mind, that game determines the national champion.

---  This is really the only way to look at childhood these days. Great photo from College Gameday set.

--- If police are chasing you, apparently you can call the police and request they stop. How very polite.

--- Since it is Miami week, here are highlights of the last time the Cats visited Oxford, it comes complete with bell-ringing sound effects, Dan Hoard and a Pearl Jam soundtrack. Seriously, what more could you want?

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