The lessons that stem from this weekend's loss to South Florida didn't go down smooth and are difficult to handle for the Bearcats. Playing a USF team that was winless by an average margin of 23.5 points doesn't lend itself well to a happy film review.
Still, let's take a deep breath and dive in.
1) Brendon Kay is healthy. Kay took more shots than Stephen Curry Saturday night. Tommy Tuberville admitted doctors wanted to take him out for the second half after taking a brutal shot to the sternum.
"He couldn't hardly breathe," Tuberville said. "A gutsy effort."
Kay fought through the pain and mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter.
With so many questions about the health of the Bearcats quarterback early in the year, it's clear he can play through whatever pain and has the ability to take punishment and keep playing.
That said ...
2) The offense line must find answers. USF had one of the most athletic defensive lines in the conference and the Bearcats knew that, but they couldn't contain them and allowed pressure all night.
"We couldn't block anybody," Tuberville said. "They just lined up and whipped us."
Tuberville went on to say there's "not much leadership on the offensive line."
An interesting reality he faces from a group that prior to the season was looked to be what these Bearcats would hang their hat on. They returned all five starters and these were linemen who excelled in 2012 blowing up holes for the running game and protecting the passer.
The loss of center Dan Sprague at Higher Ground left a mark where they are still searching for answers at this point. With so much onus placed on the center to make the proper calls and have all the proper adjustments that position can have a ripple effect unlike few others on the field. That seemed apparent Saturday.
3) The Bearcats can still walk into a stadium every week and know with this defense they have a fighting chance. Despite giving up 14 points in turnovers for scores, UC held USF without a touchdown and continually gave the offense a chance to make a comeback.
They held USF to four consecutive three-and-outs as Kay and company started to gain steam.
Those UC linebackers are living up to the hype. Nick Temple led the team in tackles including a 7-yard sack. Jeff Luc had a tackle for loss, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Greg Blair added seven tackles and a forced fumble of his own.
When teams face the Bearcats, they know they need an answer for these three linebackers. Few have.
4) Mekale McKay offering a bright future. With each game he's made more and more big plays. Showing up just before the season it took time for him to grow comfortable inside the offense, but he's figuring it out now. He caught two passes and both were for touchdowns.
His big body and athleticism are a nightmare for opposing DBs. Especially in the red zone you can see how Kay likes to give McKay a chance to make a play.
5) Temple gives an opportunity to get healthy. UC shouldn't be taking anybody for granted after what happened in Tampa, but if there were a team they could take for granted right now it would be Temple. The Owls are 0-5 after a 30-7 drubbing given by Louisville this weekend. That includes losses to Fordham and Idaho.
Friday night at Nippert should be an opportunity to create some positive momentum.
6) SMU churned out the play of the year in college football as far as I'm concerned. I learned two-point conversions can, in fact, feature 40-yard passes.