Game one for the Bearcats may have everyone resting comfortably, but that's something any good college coach worries about. Though UC systematically dismantled Pitt 34-10 in a game that never felt close, Butch Jones will likely build up Delaware State as a Louisiana-Monroe-type that came to Arkansas's home field and sent the Hogs back to the trough weeping.
Just as Nick Saban scowled at the media this past week when someone belittled Western Kentucky playing Alabama, someone will likely tread on the topic this week of, "why play Delaware State?"
It will not be me.
Numerous seasons of sideline reporting has seen me shot down like a "Call of Duty" figure more times than I can recall. I still have the "verbal shrapnel".
What it basically amounts to is you can schedule a few appetizers before your conference season to give your team confidence, or you can load up on Top 25 teams. Usually, the weaker teams load up because it all comes down to revenue. If you're team has a shot, you might take the old Kansas State method to bowl games with "cupcakes" served before the main portion.
Somewhere in the middle is the right answer. You do need to schedule some "lighter" opponents, but you also need to be tested. With what UC has this year, plus the Virginia Tech game qualifies as "somewhere in the middle" with me.
Here's the skinny this week:
WHERE: Back at "The Nipp". Fill'er up.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. Pull down the tent and shut down the grill in time to watch UC's special teams either boot it or return it.
THE SERIES: Likely a first, wouldn't you think? No trophy involved.
NICKNAME CHALLENGE: Delaware State is the Hornets. Win yourself a pre-game bet.
UC offense vs. Delaware State defense
The big question is can George Winn rip through the line for a first play score "Isaiah Pead-style" again? And, if he does, will he be disciplined for hurling the ball into the student section again? I put the first question at 70 percent. The second, I would say 0 percent. He likely got chewed out for chucking the ball, but it did have Chapman-like velocity, didn't it?
Delaware State has a defensive back named Terrick Colston who had 12 tackles and won some honor for his play in the Hornets' win over VMI. I would venture to say if Colston has 12 tackles against UC, that's a good sign as the Bearcats would have penetrated the secondary in one form or another. It's usually not a good sign when a DB is the team tackling leader. Plus, the Hornets were stung by the in-state rival power that is the Delaware Blue Hens last week. If the Hens put 38 on the toteboard, realistic minds have to think that UC could put a 50-spot up if they wanted to.
This looks like a game where you'll see multiple backs and receivers and I would think Brendon Kay might come in for more than the "victory formation". That's why these games are good, because you need to develop your bench and no one learns a thing from watching. Kids play sports to play, there's plenty of time as an adult to watch all you want.
Obvious advantage: UC
UC defense vs. Delaware State offense
The pleasant surprise for me against Pitt was the play of the defense. I worried about the losses of Derek Wolfe and JK Schaffer. After watching Walter Stewart dominate, John Williams contribute and Greg Blair show no love for his home city, I'm feeling a lot better. Dan Giordano, Brandon Mills and Nick Temple all were near the ball also. In this contest, the secondary will likely get a workout and scouts might get a better handle on what Drew Frey can do. Delaware State quarterback Nick Elko threw the ball 50 times last week and 38 the week before. Don't look for the Hornets to "establish the run". Their best runner is Malcolm Williams, but he's not in the same category of Pitt's Ray Graham or even Isaac Bennett. Elko's "go to" receiver is Justin Wilson who caught nine passes for 93 yards against Delaware. Again, he's not in the category of Pitt's Mike Shanahan or Devin Street or Cameron Saddler.
The pick: UC
Tony Miliano made his field goals and Patrick O'Donnell's punting average was good vs. Pitt. In this game, Miliano could be limited to extra points and if it goes well, a back-up kicker might get in the scorebook. Likewise, for O'Donnell-if it's a good game, he'll be holding for extra points more than anything. Delaware State has a German punter who's 6-foot-6 and weighs 220 pounds. His name is Marco Kano and I would expect to hear his name repeatedly Saturday night.
This is the equivalent of an NFL preseason game. That's not meant as a shot, it's simply the truth. Delaware State's home opener was played in front of less than 3,000 fans. UC's student section alone should cover that. It's chance for them to play a big opponent and UC to get their back-ups in. While that might sound like boasting, this program is only about 20 years removed from being in that same position. Worse off for Delaware State, their next game is against Florida A&M and it's Band Day. I don't know how well the Hornets race onto the field with their instruments and perform, but have you ever seen Florida A&M's band? They're probably the most athletic and entertaining in the college game today.
The outcome is not in question. The bigger question might be what quarter the Bearcats reach the half-century mark.