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Recycle Binns

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It's no surprise that Armon Binns won Big East player of the week; 8 receptions, 175 yards and 3 touchdowns put you ahead of the class in a league that has produced the likes of Larry Fitzgerald among others. Armon was coming into his own as the receivers like Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard were putting the final stamp on their careers. Now that his turn has come front and center, starting last year, he is proving to be a legitimate go to receiver.

Armon is on the verge of being the recyclable and renewable energy for Zach Collaros and the UC offense. Just keep going back to him; and back to him get my drift. When a player is hot you go back to them until someone stops them. And as Armon gains more confidence and Zach confirms that confidence by going to him for big plays, this offense will return to its high power posture we've come to know. With Isaiah Pead running well and John Goebel the perfect compliment, the running game looks good. Now add a healthy Ben Guidugli at tight end and your weapons are set for attack on the Big East. 

But rest assured nothing is more alarming to defenses than knowing when it's third and long, or that if you're in the red zone, the other team has wide receiver you can't cover. You don't have to speak on it, you just know it. Know this: Armon Binns is becoming a receiver that fits that profile and if he and Collaros continue their chemistry and Pead keeps running the way he has, thanks offensive line, recycling Armon Bins every series will put the Bearcats closer to another Big East title this year. A title some thought was out of reach; but with Armon Binns, going to get the ball or another title is well within reach.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat. 

The Re-Mix

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OK the second season of 2010 is now underway after the Bye week and 2 things are clear. The first half of the season is over and the Oklahoma game raised the bar on the performance of this team going into the Big East conference.

We will see what effects it had when Miami comes to town this weekend and expect UC to be solid in all 3 phases of their game. Young players have now been exposed to major college competition; healthy players have healed and veterans have proven they can lead. The challenge is simple: do it for the rest of the year all the while cutting down on self inflicted mistakes.

The makings of a winner start internally and this was a time the troops had to rally around each other and recommit to the Cattitude that the country was learning to respect. With respect, accountability, bragging rights and Big East creditability on their shoulders, it won't be easy but the reality is its very doable.

So starting this Saturday, we should see the UC team that made Oklahoma sweat to death, minus the mistakes. If that happens victory, and the bell ring loud on campus. From there it's just a building block to take into the next game. UC football is at a crossroad with respect. Was it the wonder years with Brian Kelly that made people think it was his magic wand that produced the type of firepower, excitement and buckle down in the fourth quarter defense UC was getting noticed for? Or is this Bearcat Football, tried and true?

That's what I love about the remix; you get a little old and a little new. How the DJ spins it determines the outcome of the party. I think you're gonna' love this mix; I'm ready to dance myself!

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat...  


It's So Hard To Say Good Bye (Week)

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Not as in Boys II Men, the prolific R&B group who covered the song made famous in Cooley High the movie, but coming off a loss like the one against Oklahoma makes you want to play again the very next week and take it out on someone else; as well as correcting the mistakes that cost you the game.  A good bye week? Not for me...maybe for the coaches to correct some things and some players to heal from injuries but all in all I would think players want to get back after it because the real potential of this UC team revealed itself including its never say die attitude.

When I was a broadcaster on 1230 WDBZ the Buzz, one of the callers had a quote I still use to this day: "If ifs were fifths, we'd all be drunk." There was never a truer statement after the turnovers, penalties, etc. against the Sooners; but it also showed this team can be aggressive, attacking and a winner no matter who they face. Someone said to me the difference in the game was one team knew how to win and the other one didn't. I can't say I totally agree with that, but for that game, I can't argue it either. UC grew into Butch's team this week and that is a strong sign that his style is taking hold, taking shape. I thought he was going to get several penalties for his outlandish expressions but the refs respected his efforts to get his team pumped up and keep them there and that's one of the reason why I like this coach. He IS a football coach complete with Cattitude, discipline, commitment and drive.

I have no doubt going forward this team, the one we saw Saturday; the one's who sprint to the opposite end of the field at the end of quarters; the one's who kept going even in the fourth quarter, represent the Butch Jones style of football that will become signature here at UC. The only downer is that I have to wait another week to see it. Oh well, I look forward to the same intensity and same effort against Miami and every Big East team on their schedule.
If that happens...never mind I have to remember my own quote.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

Bear(Cat) Necessities

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 I have had time to absorb the loss and the absence of confidence seemingly of this year's Cats. Their Cattitude seems to be in short supply based on what we've seen thus far and the great news is its fixable. That being said it better start in a hurry because the Oklahoma Sooners looked impressive to start the second half in their win last week over Air Force. Now I know Air Force is no Texas or Alabama but you saw what happen once they put the Sooner in gear. His name is DeMarco Murray and he is legit; and so are lots of players from this once dominant football factory.

How ironic is it in the world of sports that when your back is against the wall, and when you have to make a statement, you encounter one of the toughest games on your schedule? I am OK with that because this is no time to wish for Indiana State or Wilmington. Make your statement about your program and the pride you possess. That goes for you too fan come lately. When UC was winning, getting on board was as easy as getting in limo on Friday night. Well now it's getting on a school bus and toughing it out at Paul Brown stadium so it feels like a home game and more importantly a road game out of conference for OU.

We'll see what this team is made of this Saturday at 6 PM and we'll also see what you the fan is made of; constant cheering? Making lots noise when UC is on defense? encouraging others to show up to ensure home field? Truth is there is a lot you can do but most of it rest with the players who swore their allegiance to the Red, Black and White uniforms. I personally hope I see nothing white on the field with UC on it, but red and black gear and red and black mentality that says: enough is enough! We have to get back to playing our brand of football, the brand that put us on the map and the brand that will keep us there. Anything less is not UC football; anything less than your vocal best is not a fan. We all have a job to do this Saturday; Are you going to do yours?

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

Armon's Binn There Before & Will Again

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Armon Binn is off to a great start and you might be able to say as he goes so goes the offense of the 'Cats. Not that Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, D J Woods, John Goebel or anyone else on the offensive side of the ball aren't needed or talented; it's just that Armon is a target that is gaining confidence and respect while being a go to man with a team we still have yet to assess from top to bottom. After a nice first half in Fresno followed by a poor second half, they come back this past week with a lackluster first half followed by an impressive second half. What I'm sure Coach Butch Jones is looking for now is 2 good halves and Armon Binn will be key. A tall target with range and hops, he is a quarterback on the runs best friend.

With so much talent at the wide receiver position, Armon slid through the ranks to outsiders because of a talented corp or receivers who have made UC a potential "wideout" University for years to come. At the rate the offense is going, wide receivers will get plenty of playing time and plenty of exposure. If you're watching on TV, you can imagine the uniforms and then the action and high powered offense with you in it. So after Goodman, Gilyard and others Binn and this crop can extend the legacy of the position with another bowl bound season and constant TV exposure. Now yes I said the other 3 receivers would be the ones to watch but that's why I'm writing and Butch is coaching. It's not that I didn't think Armon would play and contribute, I thought they had something special with the addition of those 3. 

Now that Vidal Hazelton is gone for the season, it becomes more obvious that this team will go as far as Binn's leaping ability and that should be far enough to keep this team in contention for a major bowl bid. It should also keep young, talented wide receivers interested in UC for years to come. One thing they will see and come to know: UC's offense has room for everyone at the skill position so get in where you fit in. If you're good that shouldn't be a problem. Ask Armon, it's his turn now...

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

White Out!

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OK, I can't take it anymore; UC football get rid of those white uniforms ASAP! This is the second time I've seen those uniforms and I don't like the results or the implication, wrong as I may be. They're too clean, nice looking even choir boy like and that doesn't work for football. 

I am still reminded of my trip to New Orleans and at first sight, the section I was in was disappointed the black, kick you butt, move out of our way swag outfit was absent. We were playing Florida and Tim Tebow so we knew who the favorite was outside Ohio. Something about football and white; it's hard rooting for Penn State for that very reason, they look too nice. I want the all or nothing look; the we aren't scared look, the try me I dare you look and yes the WE belong look. White doesn't do it for me with a Bearcat and I guess it didn't do it against Fresno State (we know the uniform doesn't really tackle, throw or block, etc.) but please for the rest of the season wear black, red or nothing.

About the game; I hope you understand now why schools schedule hyphenated opponents so they can work the kinks out of their game for the tougher opponents. Playing Fresno State on the road early begs to question why we're playing Indiana State second? I guess we and Boise State had the lets get the party started early mentality; and there will always be arguments pro and con for either but in this BCS, biased rating system, going undefeated is the only way teams not named Texas, Florida...etc. will ever get close to playing for the title until a playoff comes along. So now that we're probably out of the title race I presume UC fans are still on board knowing running the table from here will be a tall order. Most people that know football or have kept an eye on this program knew from game one it was going to be a roll of the dice how this season would end up. There was a lot of positives and yes some negatives but first games reveal what no other game can and that's the immediacy of your shortcomings and your attributes.

So lets see what happens now, not only on the field but in the stands. This team needs its fans more than ever and as the Gap Band would say..."All aboard..."

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat.

Wide Open

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Expect big things again from UC's offense especially the wide receiving trio of Marcus Barnett, D J Woods and Vidal Hazelton. 3 different wide outs with 3 unique stories; Marcus was a freshman all-american, DJ has grown into his role and Vidal is a transfer from USC and the one thing they all have in common: They have something to prove. When you look at an explosive offense the key is the big play components and these 3 have to deliver like their predecessors who have moved on but the names still stay. Dominick Goodman and Marty Gilyard, for example have set the bar high but these guys can reach it and raise it even higher. 

The key is staying healthy and as Zach Collaros said about D J, run great routes and trust that the linemen and backfield will do their job. I wouldn't be surprised if this group of receivers garner as much attention as Batman and Robin, aka Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens of the Cincinnati Bengals. If UC is to win the Big East and win a BCS game it will take everyone contributing and buying in to Coach Butch Jones and his philosophy. But more importantly defenses have to believe your receivers can get past their safety's or shake them so bad in the open field its on their mind constantly. Thus play action and misdirection increase in value like many of us wish our investments would.

So train your eyes to go down field even on play fakes and straight ahead plays; its just a set up for the big play to come. And an opportunity for you to turn to your friends and family and say: I saw that coming several plays ago...

Write it down and memorize the names; Barnett, Hazelton & Woods aka Turf Wind and Fire

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat

Outside the U

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I have grown to have a deep appreciation for the University of Cincinnati athletic department for lots of reason dating back to the arrival of the 3 headed Mike; Thomas, Waddell and Harris and then some. 

But it went deeper this week after the loss of Elbert Jovante' Woods, son of former Cincinnati Bengal Ickey Woods. None of us that have been in this position dare not try and imagine the pain and suffering his family is experiencing at this time. A great kid with a 3.8 GPA with a desire to become an attorney tells you a lot about his make up. Add to that he became an organ donor on his temporary license permit and it seems he was engaged beyond his years on multiple levels. Then as in the blink of an eye, he's gone from us too soon by our definition; but not GOD's. For non-believers I won't apologize but will say I have trouble understanding at times myself, but in the end I have faith in every thing surrounding my Christian walk.

I pray in earnest for the Woods family, whom I have known since their arrival, and when I got word that Coach Butch Jones tweeted his condolences for the family in the midst of his first official practices I was proud to be affiliated with the university. No one could blame him if he thought it but continued focusing on the obvious, practice, in his first year. Thank you coach. Then I communicated with Mike Waddell who said they would include him in the hometown heroes tributes and I thought how respectful of them to consider someone outside the UC family. If it gives the family 2 minutes of relief from their pain, it's worth it.

Sometime we get so caught up in "our world" we forget it includes THE world; the world we live in. UC thanks for looking outside the University and seeing Cincinnati. I can say I know the Woods family appreciates the compassion.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

Will UC change?

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I'm taking the liberty of using UC vs. you see because I can and I thought it was cool. I just had a debate of sorts with my young nephew who thinks because he is a teenager he can misspell words at his leisure, so he's probably saying Ah HA!

The reason I pose the question is typically when new coaches come there are always changes in practice, pre-game and rules. Some good, even great and some questionable. I don't seem much change nor have I heard of much with Coach Butch Jones and I wouldn't expect much. The success he's had prior to coming to UC was in part with Coach Brian Kelly and if it ain't broke don't fix it may apply here.

The only change I think most people care about his now that we have established a presence in football, that we win BCS bowl games and give the Big East credibility for national championship conversation and voting. We are still considered 1A instead of 1 in ranking levels and that won't change until winning happens in big bowl games. If UC gets back there this year, and I think its a tall order, will they get the ghost of BCS games past off their back?
I can't answer that and neither can you but I just hope they stay in the mix; several teams have lots or returning starters and UC is plugging the holes of seniors gone forth. Coach Jones, nor any other coach makes excuses but privately they know it matters. Experience counts and always will but players have to believe otherwise. One of the jobs a coach has to excel at is getting players to play at the required level and to believe in the system. Football is based on that platform more than any other sport I know.

So will UC change and will you see change? either way I love the fact this football program is firmly established as a football power in its conference and in position to be a football power in polls.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

'Til We Reach Higher Ground

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That quote always reminds me of the Stevie Wonder song and is about working until you reach the pinnacle of your goals. Every year the UC football team heads to higher ground to symbolize dropping the gauntlet and signaling the season is now priority 2 (academics first right?).

The time these young athletes spend away from everyone is very important in determining the course of their season. It's where you let go of hang-ups and beefs with the guy next to or across from you. It's where you focus on a singular goal and your role in it, even if it's not the one you had in mind. It's the ultimate sacrifice when going into competitive battle to place team goals ahead of your own. I don't think any one truly knows how this season is going to end up but I think we all know how we hope it does and it's probably similar to them. Either way the start of the season is closer than you think and these guys need to be closer than that. Higher Ground means something special to this team and if everyone "buys in to win" the first goal to winning a championship has been accomplished. If they stay that way throughout the season, the chances improve greatly.

We who are older and we who have played on teams realize now looking back how special winning teams were in our lives. You forever remember the snap shot of time and the people who were a part of it. You remember what you did to contribute even if not getting in the way or being toxic; and you remember when it culminated in victory because everybody gets the same ring, trophy or award. I've always said Michael Jordan's ring is the same style ring as the last guy on the bench's ring because it's all about the team. And when anybody on the Bulls team is introduced, its as a member of the World Champions.

So head on up to the Higher Ground and begin your quest for Big East domination and BCS redemption. The fans are waiting to cheer loudly and proudly; the media is ready to cover you like an all pro defensive back and youngsters are ready to dream of becoming you one day if you show them team work works.

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat...