Nov. 18, 2008
(1:45 p.m.): Last season, UC screwed up. The Bearcats underestimated Pittsburgh going into the game at Heinz Field, and by the time they tried to right themselves, the chance to win was gone.
Maybe underestimated isn’t exactly the right phrase. Let’s say the team’s collective mind wasn’t in the right place. Just ask Anthony Hoke and Angelo Craig – who, by BK’s decree, were punished for a team rules violation and didn’t play until midway through the second quarter. Just ask Connor Barwin about his memories from last season.
“I don’t remember much about the week of practice; I just remember going into that game, and we were all feeling good about ourselves,” Barwin said. “They were at the bottom of the Big East. We just got a little bit sloppy as far as gameday preparation went and our focus. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in a tight game and we weren’t ready.”
What should have been a victory against a Panthers team that was riding a four-game losing streak at the time was a debacle of a loss that kept UC from competing for the conference crown. Although the Bearcats went into halftime with a 17-10 lead – Jake Rogers missed a chance to make it a 10-point advantage by missing a 26-yard field goal as time expired – they gained 102 yards of total offense in the final two periods and fell 24-17.
“When you win games, you win them during the week with film study and focus,” Barwin said. “If you slack around that week, it’s hard to turn it on. It’s hard to flip a switch and say, ‘OK, let’s start making plays.’ Before you know it, they have momentum. They’re feeling good about themselves. Maybe they’re playing better. It’s hard to come back and win a game like that.”
I imagine a lack of focus won’t be a problem this season. There’s that whole BCS bid thing to consider.
“It was the first time we had not played to the level and coached to the level we were capable of,” BK said. “That was coaches and players really screwing that game up. We learned from it. We bounced back, just like we bounced back from the UConn game. Last year, it was a game we let slip away. We kind of were not focused the way we needed to be. That’s what I was most upset about.”
We welcomed Dominick Goodman (along with Barwin, obviously) into a crowded news conference room, and we asked him about being one TD catch away from setting the new school career record. Right now, he’s tied with Jim O’Brien with 21. But you’d think he’d get at least one more in the final four games of the year (including the bowl game).
I also asked him if he felt like he was one of the best receivers ever to come through UC.
“I don’t feel like that,” Goodman said. “There are a lot of great receivers going through. Growing up as a little kid, I saw them. People can say I’m one of them, but there are people that started this that were here before me.”
Sounds like Tony Pike and Corey Smith should play this week (and dammit, I just realized I forgot to ask about Andre Revels).
BK on Pike: “He’s got Grutza nipping at his heels. He feels a lot better today. It’s amazing how that stuff happens. It’s a great elixir.”
I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever heard a football coach use the word ‘elixir.’ Great word, by the way.
On Smith: “We thought he had an injury where it was going to be a questionable gametime situation. But he’s looked really good the last couple days. We think he’s going to be fine for Saturday.”
Somebody asked if anybody had responded to his “’I’m going to be pissed’” if UC doesn’t sell out this game” comment. Yep, BK confirmed.
“My boss disciplined me severely,” BK said. “Probably the strongest discipline I’ve faced since I’ve been here for my comment. My wife was really upset at my language because my 7-year-old heard me say that. My boss is my wife. She was not happy with me, using that language.”
Get it? His wife is his boss. See? Yeah, it went over a little flat in the news conference as well. Oh well, big props for trying.