In the wake of the 34-10 drubbing of Pitt with FCS Delaware State on the horizon, the atmosphere could hold in the volatile state of relaxation around UC football. Butch Jones and his staff are doing their best to avoid such a letdown this week.
That was one of the key themes during Tuesday's Bearcats luncheon and press conference.
"Always a concern," Jones said. "When our players started watching (the Delaware State) film they could see the areas they could hurt us. It's an overall maturity. This is going to be a test of our leadership."
The primary concern for UC regarding Delaware State is their redshirt senior quarterback Nick Elko. He's thrown for an average of 227 yards per game and hit on 64 percent of his passes. He can clearly sling it, though the Hornets run game has been virtually non-existent.
Jones said his quick release reminds him of Teddy Bridgewater, but he wasn't making an overall comparison between the two.
"It's a quarterback-oriented offense and it starts with him," Jones said. "They do a great job schematically and creating one-on-one matchups for their best players to go in space."
At the end of the day, the Hornets are an FCS opponent who will be overmatched against UC. Treating them like one in relation to effort will be on the top of the coaches mind.
--- Bit of news committed when Jones said WR Dyjuan Lewis has been medically cleared and will rejoin the team. He suffered an injury in the spring. The doctors said at the time of his injury he would likely miss the regular season but to Lewis credit he battled through.
"He's worked exceptionally hard," Jones said. "His attitude has been tremendous, he's been doing well in the classroom and he's really handled his business. We'll start getting him game-ready. I don't know if he'll see any reps this Saturday but that was great news for us today."
Lewis was one of the most highly-touted recruits of the Jones tenure. He entered UC with much more hype than his teammate at Indianapolis Pike, Anthony McClung. Production and injuries sent both careers in different directions, but the athletic ability is there for Lewis to make an impact.
--- The impact of the NFL players in the league clearly filters down to the current crop at UC. Derek Wolfe's first sack came Sunday and Jones spoke about how seeing the ascension of a player like that brought out the awakening for a guy like Walter Stewart.
There are now 16 former UC players on NFL rosters and practice squads. All serving as the symbol of what hard work can deliver.
"Last year was monumental for him and seeing if you really buy into the standard of the football program you see what happens with Derek Wolfe and John Hughes and Rob Trigg and Monte Taylor," Jones said. "He saw it, as a coach you can talk about it, you can lecture about it, but it is like raising your own kids. Until they really see it happen before their eyes ..."
Jones tweeted this weekend about the pride of witnessing Wolfe's development. He's truly become a symbol of the type of player Jones wants his program to represent.
"I talked to Derek Wolfe two days ago, you see him play Sunday Night Football and Cris Collinsworth said the reason he got drafted so high was his effort, his intensity and just his overall demeanor to get to the football," Jones said. "Well, that is something we work on every day."
--- In the same respect, Jones admitted he's looking for a little bit more from Brandon Mills, so he's set up a cone 30 yards down the field Mills will have to sprint to at the conclusion of every play.
Mills contributed two tackles Thursday, but was pushing the backfield on a number of occasions.
--- The tempo wasn't good enough in Jones' eyes on Thursday. The Bearcats ran a total of 59 plays which is far below the goal.
"We have to take tremendous strides with that it gets back to that overall consistency," Jones said. "We'd like to be in that 70 to 80 play range to keep our defense off the field."
The Bearcats offense shouldn't be classified as a traditional spread, rather the focus for OC Mike Bajakian and Jones is always on uptempo more than pass-oriented.
"We are a pro-style, uptempo, no-huddle offense," Jones said. "Running game we have an I-back mentality. Spread offense you think of finesse, we are not going to do anything that's finesse."
--- Nugget of information gathered from AD Whit Babcock, who said student tickets for Saturday's 7 p.m. game are already sold out and they are into the student overflow. Can't deny the students are as behind this team as any in recent memory.
--- Have to point out a congrats to former Bearcats star Armon Binns on his first career reception last night. In fact, he finished with four receptions for 28 yards starting opposite AJ Green.
--- In case you wanted to watch the entire Jones press conference, here is the video.
--- All this Wolfe talk made me want to post his draft and highlight video from April. Have a great day.