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Will Zach Attack Click Against Cards?

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So what's wrong with Cincinnati's passing game?

 

Nothing. 

 

"It's a team game," said receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.  "Our whole thing is that winning takes care of everything.  As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter how many receiving yards or catches we have, we just want to win."

 

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Still, it appears that we've been so spoiled by UC's aerial pyrotechnics over the last few seasons that we are no longer dazzled by a quarterback who is completing 63% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions after five games.

 

In truth, the Bearcat passing attack has been very good, but there is room for improvement.

 

"We've had our moments where we've been in a good rhythm, but we're nowhere near where we could be," said quarterback Zach Collaros. 

 

"It's not just one thing," said receiver DJ Woods.  "It's receivers running the right routes, it's the blocking by the lineman, it's the reads by the quarterback - everybody is a part of it.  But it is our job as receivers to get open for Zach and make plays."

 

They'll get that chance on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium.

 

In recent years, the Louisville Cardinals have been uber-aggressive on defense and challenged opponents to beat them with downfield passing plays. 

 

"They have a lot of confidence in their defensive backs," said Woods.  "They play a lot of Cover 1, so we have to beat man coverage.  It's nothing too special - we have to do the same thing that we did last year and make plays when it's one-on-one."

 

"They're an attacking defense and they like to play man-to-man coverage," said Collaros.  "The thing about man-to-man coverage is that you have to win one-on-one battles.  So it's our O-line vs. their defensive ends, and it's our receivers and tight ends vs. their cornerbacks.  If you win those matchups, you're going to win the game."

 

The Bearcats have won three straight in the rivalry and two of Zach's biggest games have come against the Cardinals.

 

In 2009 in his first college start, Collaros was 15-17 for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns, posting a perfect NFL quarterback rating of 158.3.  Last year, he passed for 275 yards and a career-high 5 touchdowns.

 

"Last year they actually ended up playing a little more zone than we expected," said Collaros.  "Especially toward the end of the game because we had burned them a couple of times.  So we're not exactly positive what they're going do against us this year, but through their first five games they've played a lot of man-to-man."

 

Perhaps Louisville will drastically alter its defensive strategy for Saturday's game, but one thing never changes in the annual Battle for the Keg of Nails:  It will be hard-hitting and hostile.

 

"Four quarters of smash-mouth football," said Thompkins.  "If you're not expecting to get hit, you're in the wrong sport."

 

"It's always going to be like that," said Woods.  "Louisville doesn't like us, and we sure don't like them."

 

* * * * *

 

I hope you'll join Coach Jones, Jim Kelly, and me for the "Butch Jones Show" on Wednesday night from 8 to 9 at the Original Montgomery Inn. 

 

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

 

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

 

And I'm on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

 

Speaking of Sam, enjoy this week's action photo.

 

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