Every Monday this football season I will take a look back at the weekend that was surrounding the UC football program and all affects it. Here's what we learned following the Bearcats 45-17 defeat in Champaign.
Let's eat ...
Usually, when backing away from the initial reaction of any game, a loss is never as bad as it seems and win never as great as it seems. That's probably the case following this weekend. If you look at what happened in the fourth quarter, it's difficult to criticize the play of a team after that kind of gruesome injury.
All the players after the game said it wasn't difficult to refocus after seeing Munchie Legaux go down. They have to say that. They are football players and do their best move forward to do their jobs. But let's be honest here, how could anyone properly regain focus after witnessing that? Especially considering the spiraling situation of the game.
They are football players, but they're also human.
Legaux spent Saturday night at Carle Foundation Hospital and was transported to UC Medical Center on Sunday. He does have a redshirt year available. Until we know more specifics about the injury, will be hard to say if next season would even be possible. Modern science does crazy things, but might be more of a two-year comeback in reality, if at all.
WHAT WE LEARNED
This was why the competition between Legaux and Kay was viewed as a luxury. When something happens to one, a player like Kay -- who the Bearcats seemed to be building the team around prior to training camp.
He now takes over the offense and the Bearcats move forward. They have an opportunity to get healthy and back on the right track. FCS Northwestern State comes to town Saturday (7 p.m./ESPN3) with a down Miami squad in Oxford the following week (7 p.m./ESPN3).
NSU is 2-0, but last year lost 44-6 to Tuberville's Texas Tech team in their opener despite hanging near Nevada a few weeks later in their only games playing up. Miami, on the other hand, hasn't enjoyed much success. They've been outscored 93-21 in two losses to Marshall and Kentucky in the opening weeks. Having trouble finding an identity without Zac Dysert under center.
A few weeks of wins and seeing what personnel can emerge to shore up competition among a new roster can go a long way toward hitting conference play with a full head of steam.
As for positions that need to be figured out, here are those to watch:
Defensive back: Opposite Deven Drane we've seen a revolving as well as opposite Arryn Chenault at safety. Tuberville's searching for the right fit but found myriad problems covering and Illinois exposed that Saturday allowing 312 yards passing and four touchdowns. Trenier Orr went down early in the game, so it will be on a combination of players including JuCo transfer Howard Wilder to assert themselves. There will be no shortage of passes thrown their way, including the Bearcats primary competition in Louisville if they want to win the conference title.
Receiver: UC needs to find consistency without drops in the passing game. Alex Chisum has missed both games due to injury and Tuberville is still searching for receiver to stretch the field and open up space for RDAIV in the passing game.
WHAT THEY SAID
Doc on the despair of the injury to Legaux.
I hope you also read my piece on how Legaux's injury reinforces the reality of football. Enjoy these student-athletes and appreciate them for what they are. I also included some very real emotions from Greg Blair about what he witnessed.
Bill Koch wrote about the contribution Kenbrell Thompkins has quickly made in New England. Thompkins was targeted 14 times by Tom Brady and finished with 4 receptions for 42 yards.
Tommy G with a nice feature on Nick Temple. He's quickly emerged and been the most productive player on defense thus far.
Tommy T talked about the two calls that went against UC and went a long way toward killing the momentum the Bearcats developed in charging back to what appeared to be within four points.
The calls won't always go their way. Any discussion about those calls being the difference in the game were misplaced in his eyes -- though he would admit they had an effect. It's all about how a team reacts to those and the 99-yard drive that followed the non-TD did more damage than any call.
That will certainly be a point of emphasis going forward this week.
"Just took the air out of us," Tuberville said. "We get the ball back and that one goes against us, too. You are on the road you got to play, you can't worry about things like that. You got to go with it and make sure next time you make it no doubt."
RDAIV TOUCH WATCH
As with Week 1, will continue to monitor the touch watch of Ralph David Abernathy. Here's how OC Eddie Gran used his versatile primary weapon.
Rushes: 12 for 47 yards (3.4 per carry)
Receptions: 1 for 8 (8.5)
Returns: 3 for 71 (23.6)
TOTAL TOUCHES: 15 for 126 yards (8.4 yards per touch)
UCF making an early push to be recognized in the mix of the AAC title race. After beating up Akron (38-7) in Week 1 they blew out Florida International 38-0 in Week 2. Not exactly like opening with Alabama and Ohio State, but still dominating.
USF rebounded from their disappointing opener against McNeese State by hanging with Michigan State for a half, but still coudn't muster enough offense to pull off the upset, losing 21-6.
Bridgewater does Bridgewater things, Louisville keeps rolling.
The first ever American conference tilt saw Houston top Temple in Philly.
DEMONS IN NIPPERT
First Nippert night game of the year and it's expected to draw 30k-plus. Northwestern State would classify as a cupcake game for the Bearcats, but an important one to rebound after the trip to Champaign.
NSU is 2-0 and kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at Nippert Stadium.