Not letting the Governors intervene

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I used to write a rather formal game preview here that included when the game was, the name of the field, the time of kickoff and where you can find it on TV.

Due to regular employment and the fact that most of you are intelligent enough to find Nippert Stadium without the help of GPS, I'm going to toss that aside.

(UC and Austin Peay kick off at 7 p.m. at "The Nipp" and it's more fun to be there in person. That's all I'm giving you.)

I will give you a few random thoughts, which I tend to have from time to time.

I remember the last time the two played, I think Robert Tate had kick return for a score.  For those that don't remember Robert Tate, he was probably the best return guy the Bearcats have had on kickoffs.  If you want to talk punts, you go back to Tinker Keck.

If you don't know who Robert Tate or Tinker Keck are, you're probably not reading much of me anyway because you think I'm too old.

I'll give you this, I'll put my knowledge gained from 14 years on the radio crew up with anyone's regarding UC football personnel and minutia from the early 90s on.

(That's just my little disclaimer for anyone that thinks UC football began when Brian Kelly marched onto the field.)

What to watch for:

Will UC open up their big bag of tricks on offense? Or, will they hold back a little knowing they have to travel to Knoxville to take on another Tennessee school of note in a week?

Realistically, with Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead, the Bearcats shouldn't have to go too deep in the playbook.  However, receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Anthony McClung need to rack up some DI college receptions and get their feet wet. 

Don't worry about D.J. Woods, he'll get his (and because he'll get his, Thompkins and McClung will get theirs).  If they focus on Woods, KT and McClung will have a big night and vice-versa.

Missing links?

I'm kind of interested to see who steps up at tight end.  I think UC, at least initially, will miss Ben Guidugli.  Adrien Robinson has an NFL body, but hasn't quite put it all together yet and Coach Jones wanted to see more out of Blake Annen at one point in training camp.

Also, two "stud" running backs were recruited, Jameel Poteat and Akise Teague.   The staff is high on them and they're realistically the backs of the future.  How much will they get in, if at all?  Currently, George Winn is listed as the No. 2 back behind Pead.

In addition, Pead has bulked up and improved his pass blocking.  Will he get his 1,000 yards or will one of the youngsters get in the mix?

Beyond Collaros?

Munchie Legaux won the No. 2 quarterback spot, although Coach Jones says Jordan Louallen will play some too.  I wouldn't have guessed Legaux at No. 2 in the spring when Louallen looked very effective running the team and running the ball. 

However. watching at Higher Ground, the stronger arm belongs to Legaux.

Where does Brendon Kay fit in with all this?  With Collaros wrapping up his career, this season could determine who runs next season.

Defensive concerns?

There shouldn't be as many as last year.  Too many players return and some that were injured return.  I'm interested to see how transfer Ben Pooler does.  (By the way, with his helmet off, he's a dead ringer for Dhani Jones.)

The secondary is clearly stronger and I think the LBs (Maalik Bomar, JK Schaffer, Pooler and throw Dwight Jackson and Solomon Tentman in there) are downright nasty.

If you look up front on the defensive line, you see a lot of the names you heard last year, Walter Stewart, Brandon Mills, Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Dan Giordano, Rob Trigg, Jordan Stepp. I think overall, the UC defense will be fun to watch and far more successful.

Who's kicking?

Elder's Tony Miliano won the job and probably is going to have to go through some of the same growing pains we watched Jake Rogers have.  He's young and he's going to be here awhile, so strap on your seatbelt and be patient. Elder kids tend to deliver.

Pat O'Donnell's still the punter and he's fine.  I kind of wish he wasn't the holder (I like the possibility of a fake) but I'm typically not contacted on personnel matters.

Early returns?

DJ Woods will handle punts and possibly Isaiah Pead. I like the idea of Pead, because he might have more open space for his moves.  As for Woods, I've been predicting a punt TD since his freshman year, so I again see him "taking one to the house".

On the kick returns, it's Ralph David Abernathy IV, all 5-7 and 160 pounds of him.  He's a true freshman, but as long as he can secure the ball, he'll give teams fits.  You can't tackle what you don't see.

Don't look ahead!

What I hope to see is an all-out blistering of the Governors.  I think holding back things for week two is dangerous and you should play them all with the same intensity.

Austin Peay will run the ball, which will give Jim Kelly a clever line during his "Kelly's Keys" segment on radio: "Watch when Peay runs!"

(You didn't think I'd do a whole preview without a sophomoric reference, did you?)

I think UC's defense is up for anything. I think they're hungry to whack someone else and I predict a score similar to the last time these two met in 1993 when I had more hair (42-10 ).

Going into the following game, I think UC has every opportunity in the world to beat a Tennessee team that was far from dominating last year. .

I'd write more, but then I'd be guilty of looking ahead.  If I don't want the players to do it, I shouldn't either.

Enjoy the night against Austin Peay and drive safely down to Knoxville. If you take the side trip to Dollywood, say hello to Ms. Parton for me.


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