Bearcats Breakfast 11.10.11

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Originally, my plan today was to write a feature on Tony Miliano. I spoke with him at length on Tuesday. The story tells itself. He's the walk-on kicker beating out the competition this summer and essentially kicking himself not only into a starting role, but performing so well Butch Jones told him he will have a scholarship next fall.

You thought the student picked to kick from 30 yards out between the first and second quarter was kicking for cash? This is the real deal.

Of course, as I did these interviews, and realized Bill Koch arrived with the idea of doing the same story, there was a good chance we would be copying each other's work a bit. Well, he posted the story last night.

Here it is. Well done, of course. Rather than duplicate his work, I'd ask that you read it, then pop back here and I'll add on extras I gathered that didn't make it into the story.

OK, you back?

Prior to the season, one of the biggest questions on the team -- and one of the most critical talking points from Jones -- came in regards to needing somebody to step up in the kicking competition. Eventually, Miliano did. But how he'd kick was still a major question mark.

Not any more.

He's 12 of 15 on the season. Most importantly, he's all but guaranteed when UC enters the red zone they leave with points. He's 7 of 8 from kicks inside the 40-yard line.

His ability to bury kicks from deep are cherries on top. He's 5 of 7 from beyond 40 yards.

My question for Jones was, when did he stop being nervous sending Miliano out there?

"Well, you are never nervous," he said. "You may be a little uneasy but that's why you practice. Tony has been very, very consistent since the time we hit training camp and Camp Higher Ground but it's just a consistency. You know, in the back of your mind obviously that's a lot of pressure on a redshirt freshman and I will tell you what, he has handled it extremely well and we are going to need him down the stretch."

Perhaps Miliano's laid-back persona helped ease any tension with taking over such a pressure-packed position. He walks, talks and carries himself with all the tension of somebody exiting Mitchell's Salon and Day Spa. Easy-going. Enjoying the ride.

"That's just how I am," Miliano said. "I am not really one of those guys who gets too excited or too down on himself when I mess up.

"Honestly, I really don't get nervous, but sometimes, like that fourth field goal, there was some pressure on it. But I think I handle pressure pretty well."

The great news in all of this is Miliano approached Jones about gaining a scholarship and was told that he will receive one starting next fall. It would be sooner, but a scholarship activated now would count toward next year's signing class and take their limit down from 25 to 24 in February.

Regardless, deserved. Well deserved.

Let's eat...

--- Doc takes a great path into a column about Butch Jones, by looking through the example of Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. The Steelers receiver was a product of Jones' system at Central Michigan. Great insight into what Jones' program is all about.

And even contains some crow-eating from Doc for underestimating the coach. Didn't see that one coming. Got to give him credit, we love to criticize him for his opinions, but I immensely respect standing up and admitting you were wrong.

--- Dana Holgorsen finds himself
fighting his team's effort. He talks about it here. WVU endures spurts of uninspired play. Particularly, defensively, it's been killing them. Coming against a UC team defined by inspired play every snap, that could be the difference.

Apparently, to keep the players he believes in on the road with him, Holgorsen is trimming down the travel roster to only bring players with him that want to win. This from Dave Hickman of the West Virginia Gazette.

--- Andrea Adelson with a blog post on Isaiah Pead. With 21 carries Saturday he will equal his total from all of last season (157) with four games left to play.

Of course, I never miss an opportunity to speak with @iPead, so I tracked him down on Tuesday and he went off into a very interesting diatribe on the difference between last year at this time and now. Us scribes sure love the kid's honesty. Bill Koch wrote a story on what he said for Wednesday's Enquirer.

"I think we were naturally a tough football team, but it was a matter of all of us playing tough together and not pointing fingers, blaming the defense, blaming the offense, we are all as one and we are going to fight together."

The toughness and confidence was built in the offseason weight-training program with Dave Lawson. Pead compared them with Paul Luongo, who was renowned for his rigorous workouts on Brian Kelly's staff. He wouldn't commit to calling them more difficult, but clearly, they are.

"Luongo, he had his hard workouts, so to say," Pead said. "But every workout with Lawson is hard."

Those built the foundation for the running game and fourth-quarter comebacks that have defined this team.

--- West Virginia struggled against the run at times this season. They have allowed an average of 150 rushing yards in the last three contests. Of course, that includes negative QB yardage.

Take into account the leading rushers from those three games:

Team-Back: Attempts-Yards-Yards/Carry
Syracuse-Bailey: 22-125-5.7
Rutgers-Jamison: 19-96-4.0
Louisville-Brown: 14-69-4.9
TOTAL: 55-290-5.3

Of those three backs, only Bailey even ranks in the top 10 in the conference in yards per carry. Bailey (9th@4.5), Jamison (18th@3.06) and Brown (12th@3.73).

So, what should we expect of Pead? The guy who comes in not only ranked second in the conference in ypc at 6.04, but fourth among active career leaders in the category nationwide.

Add in the fact two of the biggest games of his career were at Paul Brown Stadium and the table sets nicely for another Pead showcase.

"That may be the key to victory is running the ball," Pead said. "I am up for the challenge, the line is up to the challenge. We may run the ball a lot, we may not, it's whatever the coach is feeling at the time. But if we are ready to run the ball 30, 40, 50 times I am down for it."

--- Zach Collaros touched on an interesting motivation point. When asked if WVU owns the best talent in the league, he admitted that they do.

"From recruiting classes to the way they develop their players over the last 8-10 years, I think that has been the case," he said.

Don't think that doesn't motivate this group of guys who always heard they didn't have enough stars and weren't big enough, fast enough,strong enough to compete with the big boys -- especially a guy like ZC.

"I think anytime somebody is ranked higher than you, you are an underdog, you embrace that and use it as motivation," he said.

Techinically, UC isn't an underdog this week according to the "experts," but they don't view the game that way. Never do.

"We are underdogs every week," Collaros said.

--- While UC being bumped up to ABC would seem like a great deal for the program, it probably isn't if you are looking for national exposure. Take a look at the national coverage map for Saturday's game. Yikes.

--- For those wondering about the Rutgers game time, it is in the six-day window and we will know the time for that Sunday.

--- For better or worse, Adelson picked UC to beat WVU, 40-38.

As for the experts, four of the seven went with the Bearcats.

--- The West Virginia Daily Athenaeum says UC enters the game with momentum. So, the Cats have that going for them, which is nice.

--- Former UC assistant Mike Tomlin broke out a complementary comment about the program when asked if he was surprised by his success on his conference call with Bengals reporters yesterday:

"No, not at all. I know Butch personally, he is a really good football coach. I am excited for him and the university. That was a good place for me and my family when we were there years ago."

Tomlin said he wouldn't be able to make it to the game because the Steelers would be traveling at the time.

--- Tommy G has been
circulating rumors that possibly unseen, exclusive "Get the Dub" footage will be aired on Inside Bearcats Football tonight. Anybody who enjoyed my post on Walter Stewart's song on Tuesday should tune in. Of course, you should be tuning in every week, but I'm not your father.

--- If you did miss any IBF
, you could watch the Inside Bearcats Basketball from last night, which is posted here online.

--- For today's randomness,
I offer up my tribute to the late Heavy D. I haven't been around to posting anything about passing. Loved the guy. And loved this song. I convinced my folks at the Reds to play "Now that we found love" during Kiss Cam this year and people loved every second of it.

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