Quite a weekend for the Bearcats with the blowout football win and arrival of Brendon Kay against Temple. Then the UC basketball team opens the season with an easy victory against UT-Martin.
And if anybody could appreciate the success of both teams, it is Connor Barwin. But was busy doing this during live game action in the Texans win against the Bears last night. Frightening athleticism. Does he have Flubber on his shoes? (Consult your 90s pop-culture reference guide, please)
Regardless, wins all around for UC sports with the most important game of the season slated for noon Saturday at Nippert Stadium.
Not my job to sell tickets, but I will only say if you care about UC football at all you will want to be there Saturday. The Bearcats win this and the path is paved to at least a share of the Big East conference title -- if not a BCS bid. But this will be no easy task against Rutgers (8-1, 4-0). The ticket office is open from 8am-noon today in observance of Veterans day, but you can go online at gobearcats.com to grab tickets any time you like.
Let's eat ...
--- What's on the line vs. Rutgers?
If UC wins: They will need two wins against the cellar-dwellars of the BE -- USF, UConn -- in order to clinch at least a share of the conference title. They would need one Louisville loss to become outright champs and earn the BCS berth. The Cards travel to Rutgers the final week of the regular season.
If UC loses: They will be eliminated from winning the Big East title.
Essentially, this is UC's Big East championship game.
--- Have to give it up for Brendon Kay. Want to start there. The guy came off the bench for the first start of his career and looked phenomenal. Not just because of his stats, but the types of throws he made. And the types of throws he didn't.
With a running game as potent as the Bearcats own, if you can keep safeties constantly concerned about the deep ball, it provides a defensive conundrum. Kay showed great accuracy going long. He was 4 of 4 for 198 yards on passes thrown beyond 15 yards. That stat is more important than any other coming out of the game.
His line: 13 of 21 for 244 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 190.9 Rating.
I think we all learned that Kay will be the Bearcats starting quarterback going forward. He earned that.
Should Bearcats fans be clicking their heels in the streets over this game, though? Let's remember, this was against former MAC foe Temple. The Owls didn't exactly roll in with the defense Rutgers will on Saturday.
For today's statistical analysis: Let's take a look at how the other Big East quarterbacks fared against Temple in comparison to their season averages:
Tino Sunseri average vs. FBS: 20 of 30 for 260 yards 1.5 TD/.25 INT /// Rating: 158.0
Tino vs. Temple: 20 of 28 for 321, 3 TD/0 INT /// Rating: 203.1 (season high, non-FBS)
Teddy Bridgewater average vs. FBS: 21 of 30 for 279 yards 2.1 TD/.6 INT /// Rating: 168.9
Teddy vs. Temple: 19 of 28 for 324, 5 TD/0 INT /// Rating: 224.0 (season high)
Gary Nova average vs. FBS: 18 of 30 for 226 yards 2.0 TD/1.1 INT /// Rating: 140.8
Gary vs. Temple: 17 of 27 for 232, 4 TD/1 INT /// Rating: 176.6 (second-highest of season)
BJ Daniels average vs. FBS: 19 of 33 for 231 yards 1.4 TD/1.1 INT /// Rating: 121.9
BJ vs. Temple: 18 of 31 for 219, 1 TD/1 INT /// Rating: 121.6 (highest in Big East play)
Chandler Whitmer average vs. FBS: 19 of 31 for 233 yards 0.8 TD/1.4 INT /// Rating: 122.6
Chandler vs. Temple: 22 of 39 for 293, 2 TD/0 INT /// Rating: 136.4 (only BE game w/out INT)
--- Two things noticed:
1) Every quarterback set some kind of season superlative against the Owls. Sunseri and Bridgewater turned out their highest ratings of the season, Nova his second-highest, Daniels his highest in Big East play. Clearly, everyone performed above the norm against the Owls.
2) Jones preaches ball security and not only did Kay not throw a pick, there weren't any very close to being intercepted, either. That again falls into the Temple trap. The Owls only intercepted two passes in Big East play and never more than one in a game.
--- Certainly not trying to rain on the Kay parade here. I think the throws he did make and way he managed the offense showed a reason for legitimate excitement about the possibilities. I will only point out the competition should skew the numbers slightly.
--- Dan Hoard wrote about the fantastic story behind Kay's first start in 1,813 days. The possibility is also mentioned Kay could earn a sixth year of eligibility due to his medical hardships. Jones called it "favorable." That would be the best news to come out of the day.
--- If you missed the highlights, including Kay's perfect pass to Chris Moore, you can watch the sideline view here.
--- Here was Kay talking after the game, along with Drew Frey.
--- Of course, all of this renewed title talk is thanks to Syracuse's throttling of Louisville. The Orange seem to do this once a year and they picked a great time for Bearcats fans (not that there's ever a bad time for Louisville to lose in the eyes of UC fans).
--- Helmet stickers and kudos all around for Kay at the ESPN Big East blog.
--- As Bill Koch says, there's a new vibe for UC.
--- Moving on to Sunday's win against UT-Martin in the season opener -- congrats go out to Mo Egger for breaking out his first play-by-play gig since the last time the Knicks were relevant. He took over the radio duties and by all accounts did a great job. You can catch him again on Sunday against NC A&T.
--- Our latest addition here at The Bearcats Beat Blog is Ashley Davis, who has been doing outstanding work helping out with cross country, volleyball and picked up my slack yesterday for the opener against the SkyHawks.
She discussed the play of the bench. Cronin's made it apparent he desires to be two deep at every position and run at teams in waves. Judging by what we saw last night, that won't be a problem.
--- Why you like the leadership on this team, after running out to a 33-6 lead at one point and winning by more than 20, there was dissatisfaction among the UC players.
Cronin expressed concern over the 19 turnovers. It certainly was a sloppy showing by UC handling the ball. It should be noted UC only reached the 19-turnover mark twice last season and both came in the stretch of the opening four games. Still working out the kinks.
--- Justin Jackson was all over the floor -- his standard effort. That can be good and bad. He showed a little rust in his first game back with a team high five turnovers to go with his 7 points and 11 rebounds.
Cronin thinks Jackson can turn his energy into a positive on offense without being subject to turnovers. The thing is, in this offense he's asked to play a role of guard. That's not a great fit for him, but Cronin believes he can make it work. I spoke with Mick at length about this Friday. Here is what he had to say regarding Justin and the offense.
"On the offensive end, he's spent the whole offseason working as a guard, as a playmaker. And he's got to learn when to just make an easy play. At times he forces the action too much. That's something I wish he would have had the two exhibition games from an offensive standpoint.
"One thing about Justin, he does understand basketball and he's a very good passer. He knows his strengths and he does know his teammates as well. When he's not in a hurry he's very effective. He's not out there looking to shoot the 3-point shot every time he gets it. He understands how to create mismatches with his teammates and has a very good basketball mind. I just have to make sure he slows down a little bit. His strength is his weakness. He is full throttle all the time but when you are an offensive player you have to read the defense and kind of let the game come to you. That is the biggest thing he's got to continue to work on. It will take a little bit of time."
Waiting on Jackson is worth it when considering the injection of energy, defense and rebounding he brings the second he hits the floor. That's another area where Cronin sees potential.
"The challenge for Justin is to become more of a consistent player," Cronin said. "I don't want him to rely on his hustle. I want him to rely on his fundamentals. His great hustle to run down blocked shots and make up for mistakes is a tremendous attribute but I don't want him to get beat I want him to be more fundamental in his stance.
"I've challenged him to become a great defender. For him to have a professional career at his size, it is going to be as a defender and being able to defend guys at three positions. So, really trying to get him to be more fundamental with his stance. Not just a guy who runs down and blocks shots and covers for his teammates, just a lockdown defender like Rashad Bishop was, just taller."
--- For the record, SK told me he has a great #JustinJacksonMeanFace impression. He wouldn't offer it yet, but don't worry, I'll keep working on him and see if we can't get it posted to the blog soon. Truthfully, forget signings and rumors, these are the stories you know I'll hunt down like a dog.
--- Time for some randomness ...
--- The Aircraft Carrier games are a logistical nightmare, as seen by the two games being canceled. I think one Carrier game per year would be worth the hassle with some mending the setup. Point being, they are worth it because of the incredible images like these they produce.
--- MTV has pulled the plug on America's Best Dance Crew. ABDC was the model for which all my best, new dance moves came from. Guess this means I'll go back to doing the Stanky Leg.
MTV is doing all right though, here's why they don't play videos anymore.
--- Sports Pickle unlocks the genius: It's photos of depressed Alabama fans. You can almost feel the sorrow weighing down the Bama bangs.
--- Some kid crashed his car and lived for three days in a ravine.
--- This is a relatively serious story about some fallout from Sandy in NY, but I personally love the photo of the 12-year-old directing traffic.
--- Remember, I want to hear from you. Shoot me any emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions, comments or observations and I'll do my best to get them answered for you. You can also hit me up on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.
As for today's tune, with this huge week at hand for UC football, decided to break out the old classic by Van Halen. Enjoy your day everybody.