Bearcats Breakfast 8.20.12

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The time at Higher Ground comes to an end this week. The team will head back to campus this week and hold their first practice at Nippert Stadium on Thursday. From that point, two weeks will remain until UC hosts Pitt on ESPN.

You can almost smell it now. Of course, that could be the funk humming out of the dorms packed with Bearcats the last two weeks.

Along those same lines, the closer the season draws the more stories are starting to flow out of Higher Ground. And that's that I'm here for.

Let's eat...

--- Bill Koch wrote about Butch Jones expecting to pass more this year. That falls into the question of offensive identity and one can wonder if Jones plans on using more short passes essentially as outside runs to allow his athletic WRs in space and keep Munchie Legaux completing passes. Although, as he tells Bill, he's looking for more of a vertical passing game.

This was exactly what I was discussing in the identity post, with so many new pieces there are many different directions this attack could go in. Finding what works will need to happen fast.

--- Why would throwing more
be a logical move? Well, featuring Kenbrell Thompkins may be the best move the Bearcats can make. After speaking with him last week it's clear he understands the maturity and work necessary to spin his talent into production.

Thompkins finished last season with 44 receptions for 536 yards. Not bad numbers, but considering the expectations of the hard-working former Tennessee-commit, they fell shy of what many thought they'd see.

Wide receiver coach T.J. Weist said Thompkins battled injury throughout the summer and it persisted through training camp to the point he couldn't play a full game until midway through the year. When looking at his game-by-game numbers, fatigue played a role. Once he finally did regain enough stamina to play full games he became the player everyone looked for. Then, once Zach Collaros gave way to Legaux, who KT has limited experience throwing with, his numbers fell off.

Average first three games: 3 receptions, 34 yards
Average next six games: 5.5 receptions, 65 yards
Average final four games: 1 reception, 10.5 yards

Legaux and Thompkins spent all offseason working on their timing. For Thompkins, he believes the connection will come with his QB. UC fans will see the difference in his individual effort as well. '

"I think they are going to be able to tell by the way I fly off the ball," Thompkins said. "Not only that but my whole attitude, the way I play the game. The way I prepare for it. T

In junior college, Thompkins said preparation meant little. With so much talent, they took the field and ran their offense and got by blowing past slower DBs. Research on the opponent? Forget about it. In his first year he learned the hard way the difference between believing he'll excel and putting in the work to earn it.

"To have high expectations you must prepare for it. You must game plan for it. You must make sure you eat right, you sleep right. Those are things I wasn't doing. This year I am actually taking care of my body more. I am spending more time in the film room and actually enjoying the process right now.

--- Last week, I took a look Jameel Poteat and his intriguing opportunity. Can't wait to see how he does in an opener built for his story line. Also, this feature on Anthony McClung, who apparently spent the offseason running routes in the dark at Nippert.

Also, check out this blog on the duties of the new Faculty Athletics Representative who steps in during a time where his role is highlighted as a hyper-sensitive position.

--- Dan Hoard looked at Eric Lefeld as he finds his comfort zone at left tackle. Plus, any time you can find a piece that leads with pre-game regurgitation, it's a winner. Dan makes a great point, assuming Lefeld enjoys the same success at LT this year as he did filling in for Sean Hooey last year at right tackle, the Bearcats will be in great hands at the most important offensive line position for the foreseeable future.

As for the O-line, obviously there will be pressure on center Dan Sprague and whoever comes out on top of the left guard battle, but returning three starters allows a significant strength. On an offensive with a new quarterback and running backs behind them, this unit transforming into the dominant group expectations insist they can become could be the key to this season.

People often forget how much the UC line wore down opponents last season during their run of fourth-quarter comebacks. That began and ended with the big uglies up front.

--- The Bearcats received one vote in the AP poll. Thanks, Josh Kendall.

Louisville was the lone Big East team represented at No. 25.

--- Tommy G continues to offer very little to Bearcats coverage. All he's done recently is speak with defensive coordinator Jon Jancek and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian. Take a deeper look at the experience in the secondary with Cam Cheatham and Drew Frey. He cranked out a time lapse of the Bearcats season preview show for Fox. And of course, provide regular updates with Butch Jones.

Somebody should really light a fire under that guy. (aka, great work, TG)

--- Those of you who aren't season ticket holders (Really? Have you seen the deal for $125?) aren't privy to the cool work the marketing folks did the with the season tickets this year. They printed the words to the fight song across all seven tickets.

--- Note from camp last week: Trenier Orr is the rising star at Higher Ground. Butch Jones has had nothing but great things to say and views him as one of the leaders of the team. The sophomore is challenging for time at DB and fills what's becoming a deep crop of corners with Cheatham, Deven Drane, Orr and sixth-year man Dominique Battle.

"I tell you right now the guy who is leading that defense is Trenier Orr. He's leading with his play. He's the first to the piles. He's got effort, great energy, great intensity.

"He's grown up. Is he ready yet? Is he disciplined enough to put out there on an island? No, but he will be. He's probably the closest thing I've seen in a long time in comparison to (recently minted Pittsburgh receiver) Antonio Brown in terms of his competitive nature."

--- The Bearcats across NFL camps continue to make an impact. Locally, Armon Binns has worked his way into the starting role at receiver opposite A.J. Green. All he does is make plays and he'll be given the opportunity to make a name for himself this season.

--- Isaiah Pead notched his first NFL touchdown Saturday night for the Rams. In standard IPead fashion, he broke out the athletic, dramatic leap over the pile. Hopefully the first of many.

It was the lone highlight during an otherwise rough game, though. He finished with six rushes for minus-5 yards two receptions for minus-3 yards and one punt return for one yard.

--- Derek Wolfe keeps doing what Derek Wolfe does. After recording two sacks in his opener, he tied for the team lead with four sacks in his first start at defensive end for the Broncos.

--- Keep an eye out for the Philadephia BearEagles tonight. Mardy Gilyard, Trent Cole and Brent Celek are on Monday Night Football against the Patriots.

--- Some randomness...

--- News headline of the day: Man breaks into house, takes off clothing, bakes chicken pot pie.

--- If you need a stuffed turtle doll,
you can check out Michael Beasley's auction.

--- Filed under "Torn":
George Costanza appears in a Nickelback video.

--- As we drive within shouting distance of the opener, this Kings of Leon jam seems appropriate. Have a fantastic day.

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