With all this focus on the offense, six turnovers and development of Munchie Legaux one significant storyline fell through the cracks over the first two weeks.
That would be the dominance of the Bearcats defense.
Over two games Cincinnati is yet to allow a touchdown in the first three quarters. The two scores allowed came in the fourth with UC leading by 31 against Pitt and 20 against Delaware State.
The Cats are currently sixth in the country in points allowed per game (8.5). While we are far too early into the year to be making sweeping generalizations about UC as a top 10 defense, the foundation has been set.
"We are not making mistakes, we are not beating ourselves by and large," defensive coordinator Jon Jancek said. "For the most part we've played pretty clean football. We've communicated well playing good, team defense."
Through two games, UC's 8.67 tackles for loss per game still exceeds the pace of last year's 8.62 per game which led the nation.
More than making splash plays in the backfield, the Bearcats kept explosive plays against them to a minimum. They rank in the top third of the country in plays of 10+ and 20+ yards allowed per game.
The rock has been the defensive backfield containing most deep passing plays. Between Cam Cheatham, Deven Drane and safeties Drew Frey, Dominique Battle and Arryn Chenault, the secondary performed well, according to Jancek.
"There's things we need to continue to work on but for the most part we've held up fine in our back end," he said. "Most of (Pittsburgh's) yardage came on a screen and a fluke play with Tino (Sunseri) there, that was 100 yards of offense racked up against the throw game."
The pass defense will be tested against QB Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech. He's thrown for at least 212 yards in all three games. He's averaging 235 passing yards a game. His first sign of weakness came Saturday against Pitt when he uncorked three interceptions in the loss.
A few other notes and quotes from a conversation with Jancek yesterday:
--- In discussing safety Arryn Chenault, who grabbed his first career interception Saturday, there's a hope he could be breaking through. This is his first season as a starter and hadn't played significant snaps on defense before.
"He's got more of a presence back there now," Jancek said. "Before he was always kind of just listening, now he's taking charge."
The interception against Delaware St. marked his most significant impact as a Bearcat. Jancek's seen one big play turn into many before and hopes that's the trend unfolding with the Fairfield product.
"The light can go on, a guy finally has some success," Jancek said. "Finally all his hard works pays off and comes to fruition in one play. Any time you have an interception that really boosts your confidence, I'm hoping that Arryn really takes off here."
--- These days, the stress around defensive practices centers on physicality. With a veteran group -- particularly in the secondary -- knowledge of the system and understanding roles evolved into a strength.
Next comes intimidation and efficiency.
"We've come a long way in terms of communication and getting everybody on the same page," Jancek said. "Overall, being more disruptive on first down and violence when it comes to tackling and block destruction, those are things we really need to improve on. We need to improve our physicality."
--- Quick note on the stat line of Walter Stewart. People might point to the lack of sacks or tackles for loss against Delaware State after his remarkable opener against Pittsburgh, but Jancek points out Stewart was asked to contribute in alternate ways against the Hornets.
Delaware State's plan was to throw quickly to neutralize the outside pass rush and consequently, Jancek moved Stewart around more and sent Stewart out in coverage where he shined using his history as a linebacker to his advantage.
"Statistically nobody really gets to see that," Jancek said. "But he really did some good things for us as far as coverage. Walter's a football player. He's got good instincts, you can drop him in coverage, rush him, he's got a great skill set for a variety of things you ask him to do."
--- It's getting real over in Tommy G's video suite. Last weekend they strapped the GoPro camera to a cheerleader to give a rare perspective of the game.
Here's the cool results.
--- Ever want to a great way to kill time? Ask UC baseball coach Brian Cleary to tell stories about being a coach with Team Great Britain. He's doing it again at the World Baseball Classic and writing a blog for the site along the way. Great stuff.
--- Behind the scenes footage and highlights from the win over DSU.
--- Andrea Adelson touches on UC's sense of urgency at the bye week.
--- CBSSports.com RapidReporters discuss Walter Stewart as an NFL prospect on their watch list.
--- The Eagles officially placed Jason Kelce on IR as he had surgery on his torn MCL and will have his partially torn ACL taken care of in 3-4 weeks.
Then he came home and broke out this hilarious tweet.
--- Lindsay Lohan arrested again? Shocking development. In related news, the sun continues to rise in the East.
--- Alex Morgan says she receives marriage proposals on Twitter almost every day. My bad.
--- Not sure what I would do if a cheetah jumped on the roof of my safari jeep, but be calm probably wouldn't top the list.
--- Mr. Belding is in professional wrestling.
--- SportsPickle with a list of 10 excuses people make for their failed athletic career. I've said at least three.
--- Mumford and Sons go with the live version for this video. Wish all bands did this.