Bearcats Breakfast 12.6.11

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Today will be the final Tuesday football luncheon of the season. One final opportunity to enjoy a free lunch, er, talk to players and coaches. I almost feel nostalgic thinking about all the great moments myself and the pan of City BBQ cornbread have shared this season. It's been a special run.

This will be an emotional lunch, let there be no doubt.

As for the topics of discussion outside of the delicious mix of banana pudding and Vanilla Wafers, we'll probably be hearing more about Butch Jones' career opportunities and likely more of the line he opened with last week in that regard.

Bill Koch offered his opinion on the Jones job search on his blog yesterday, placing North Carolina as the strongest contender for the coaches' service. However, keep an eye out for Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora for that position. UNC loves him.

We'll also probably have a chance to talk to Isaiah Pead about his Senior Bowl invite and to everyone about the Liberty Bowl draw. Likely will be the Fallout Edition of the Tuesday Lunch with plenty of reaction and reflection.

Also, the second ever Inside the Bearcats Podcast will post this afternoon as myself and Tommy G talk all about behind the scenes from Saturday, Liberty Bowl, Crosstown Shootout and plenty more.

No time to waste, let's eat...

--- As I mentioned, Isaiah Pead received an invite to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Happy for him, but would have liked to see DT Derek Wolfe and LB JK Scaffer join him. They deserve it.

It continues a trend of UC representatives in the top prospect bowl game. This is the third time in four years the Bearcats have players in the mix.

Jan 2009: Connor Barwin, Kevin Huber, DeAngelo Smith, Trevor Canfield
Jan 2010: Mike Windt, Mardy Gilyard, Tony Pike
Jan 2011: None
Jan 2012: Isaiah Pead

What does playing in the Senior Bowl mean? Last year 12 first-round picks and 83 total players from the Senior Bowl were selected in the NFL Draft. That was 33 percent of all total players selected. Of last year's NFL Pro Bowl starters, 13 of the 24 were former Senior Bowlers.

Now, there's little doubt Pead will be taken in this year's draft, but it's nice to be reassured of the positive light your viewed in nationally.

--- Congrats distributed around the football team yesterday. WR Anthony McClung became the third Bearcats player this season to be named Big East Offensive Player of the Week. The previous two were Zach Collaros against USF and Pead against Louisville.

McClung caught eight passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

You start to take a look at the receiving group that will be back next season and you can't help feel good about the state of position. Your starters will most likely be Anthony McClung, Alex Chisum and Kenbrell Thompkins. Then toss in Travis Kelce at tight end and you are returning 111 receptions for 1,458 yards.

Those four alone provided 57 percent of the total receptions and 61 percent of the total yards.

By the way, you can vote for McClung for Intersport WR Performance of the Year. Just follow this link

Here was McClung talking with me after the UConn win.

--- Best part about making a bowl game? Bowl gifts!

--- Andrea Adelson wraps the Big East season and gives out some awards. Coach of the Year rightfully went to Butch Jones and UC-WVU at PBS was the Game of the Year.

--- Poking around some of the regular season defensive stats, the numbers backed up the obvious on-field improvement.

After finishing last year 68th in total defense, nationally, they finished 46th this season. Here's a chart of some of the statistical improvements from 2010 to 2011.

Stat                  2010/2011
Total defense       68/46    
Pass defense      88/106
Rush defense       39/6
Scoring defense   68/20
Sacks                  55/1
Neg. Sack Yds     68/1
TFL/G                  39/1                    
Interceptions       99/24
Turnover Margin  119/11
AVERAGE           71/24

--- A few other notes on the defensive improvement. Here's how dominant the UC defensive front was this year.

They finished first in the nation with 318 negative sack yards created. The next closest team in the country, Stanford, finished with 26 yards less than that.

UC was tops in the nation in TFL, with 8.92 per game. No. 2 in the country was USF with 8.08. No. 3 was Marshall with 7.92. That means, outside of one team, UC was a full TFL per game better than the rest of the country in that category. Wow.

--- It was clear at the beginning
of the season, this front seven had a chance to be one of the most dominant in the Big East. If they could, it would make up for any inexperience in the secondary. The veteran front exceeded even the grandest of expectations. While defensive linemen tend to go under the radar, by the numbers -- and to the eye for anybody who watched closely -- this was the best season by a defensive front in the recent history of UC football.

--- Randomness...

--- I can't imagine any coach holding a deeper disdain for the BCS than Chris Peterson. And rightfully so.

"I think everybody is just very tired of the BCS, that's the bottom line. Everybody's frustrated, nobody really knows what to do anymore. It doesn't make sense. I don't think any one is happy, anywhere. They say it's the one and two best teams, there's even controversy on that. The whole thing needs to be changed there's no question about it."

Check out this college football playoff bracket.

I remind you again, people like George Wine vote in the Harris Poll and played a role in deciding the Big East BCS representative this year. Wine voted Oklahoma State at No. 6 --- behind Houston, who was pummeled by Southern Miss Saturday. Ugh.

--- Tweet of the Day yesterday goes to EDSBS (Every Day Should Be Saturday):

"Just finished reviewing all 36 bowls. Don't watch the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. You'll die of sorrow."

--- For the record, don't spend today telling anybody about your bad beat out of the fantasy football playoffs. Nobody cares about your fantasy football team except you.

--- Kepler 22-b is an Earth-like planet just 600 light years away. I assume that is where the execs from NBC that shelved Community are from. *Still bitter*

--- The Onion concedes
Tim Tebow's success has sparked an NFL trend.

--- How about reliving
the celebration from Saturday's share of the Big East championship. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

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