| WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23
Countdown To Kickoff Day 10: Bearcats Prepare To Break Camp ...
Dehner Interview | Wolfe Interview | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The University of Cincinnati football team held its final preseason workout Wednesday at the Higher Ground Campus & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The Bearcats will break camp on Thursday morning and head back to campus to hold a game situations practice inside Nippert Stadium. Following practice, the team will be off until this weekend when they report back to begin final preparations for the season opener against Austin Peay on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. inside Nippert Stadium.
This morning's two-hour practice took place in shells and focused heavily on individual work. Following the close of practice, the 2011 seniors threw Head Coach Butch Jones into the cold tubs. The cold tubs are an ice water bath used by players following practice to assist their bodies in recovering from the strain of practice.
This Sunday, from 7-8 p.m., Jones and selected Bearcats will be appearing at Dave & Buster's Tri-County location ( 11775 Commons Drive, Springdale, Ohio, 45246/513-671-5501) for a public preseason kick off event. The event is free and open to everyone.
Jones, select football student athletes, and members of the football staff will be on hand to address the crowd and sign autographs. The UC spirit squad and Bearcat mascot will also be in attendance to greet fans, while the Bearcat Caravan will be on site with great giveaways for UC fans. Coach Jones will also take part in a Q&A session with fans on hand.
| TUESDAY, AUGUST 22
Countdown To Kickoff Day 11: Single-Workout On Tuesday ...
Frey Interivew | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The University of Cincinnati football team held a single workout Tuesday, working closer to breaking camp and heading back to Cincinnati to being preparing for the season opener against Austin Peay on Sept. 3, 2011 at 7 p.m. inside Nippert Stadium.
The Bearcats worked on various special teams units and focused on game situations. The offensive and defensive scout teams have started to make an appearance, meaning game action is just around the corner.
Following practice, dinner and meetings, the team gathered for a bon fire next to the practice fields.
Our collegues over at CoachButchJones.com have been putting together an online video series while the Bearcats are in residence at Higher Ground. The links are listed below.
Photo Day | Walter Stewart | Bajakian & Banks | Strength & Conditioning
Dinner Time | Higher Ground Cribs | Moving To Higher Ground
Freshmen Nick Temple & Chris Moore
Freshmen Akise Teague & Silverberry Mouhon
UC returns to the practice fields Wednesday for its final workout at Higher Ground.
| MONDAY, AUGUST 21
Countdown To Kickoff Day 12: Another Two-A-Day In The Books ...
Martinez Interview | Giordano Interview | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The University of Cincinnati football team returned to the practice field Monday, getting in a pair of workouts under sunny skies at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The Bearcats held a morning special teams workout in helmets before practice in the evening in full pads. As has been the case recently, much of the practice work was situational with some other work done in the red zone.
"I think we have progressed," Head Coach Butch Jones said. "We aren’t game ready yet. You never know until you really hit the lights. We will have a lot of individuals playing for the first time. So, I will know a little bit more of where we are after the Austin Peay game. We are right where I thought we needed to be. The only thing is that we need to have a sense of urgency. That is still finding depth. The defensive line has not progressed the way we would have wanted to by this point. We have to pick it up. The same thing goes for both interior lines. We need to continue to develop."
Following the close of practice, three more freshmen had their white helmet stripe removed by their big brother in front of the team. First up was Drew Frey (Wilmington, Ohio/Clinton Massie) welcoming Kevin Hyland (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) to the family. Second was Arryn Chenault (Cincinnati, Ohio/Fairfield) removing the stripe from Innocent Macha's (Cincinnati, Ohio/Roger Bacon) helmet, and finally Solomon Tentman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Roger Bacon) took the stripe from Clemente Casseus (Mirimar, Fla./Everglades).
UC is back on the practice field Tuesday with only a handful of days left in its stay at Camp Higher Ground.
| SUNDAY, AUGUST 20
Countdown To Kickoff Day 13: Photo Day 2011 ...
DJ Woods Interview | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. -The University of Cincinnati football team took the day off from practicing Sunday, taking team and various group photos at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The Bearcats also celebrated Family Day, welcoming the families of student-athletes, coaches and staff to Higher Ground for dinner.
UC is entering the home stretch of training camp with the Bearcats scheduled to break camp Thursday morning and head back to campus.
UC returns to the practice Monday for its fourth two-a-day practice of the preseason.
| FRIDAY, AUGUST 19
Countdown To Kickoff Day 14: Playing Ball Under The Lights ...
Coach Jones Interview | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. -The University of Cincinnati football held its third two-a-day session of training camp Saturday a the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
After an hour-long special teams workout in helmets Saturday morning, UC returned to the field in the evening for a full-pads workout that involved situational scrimmage work with the BIG EAST Conference officials that have been in camp the past few days.
Members of the 1200 Club were able to view the practice and also had dinner at the complex. During dinner, each donor's table was paired up with UC coaches, student-athletes and staff. Following dinner and a Q&A session with head coach Butch Jones, participants were able to sit on individual position meetings, get screened on UC's Dynavision system and observe practice from right next to the turf.
As Head Coach Butch Jones puts it: 'The 1200 Club is truely the inner circle of UC football.' For more information on how to join, click HERE.
UC returns to the practice field Monday and will break camp at Higher Ground and move back to campus on Thursday morning.
| FRIDAY, AUGUST 19
Countdown To Kickoff Day 15: The Stripes Cometh ...
Behind The Scenes Feature | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The University of Cincinnati football team held a single two-hour workout Friday at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
With a group of BIG EAST Conference officials on hand for the weekend, the practice session was heavy in the individual position-on-position work as well as situational scrimmaging.
"Everyday is a teaching opportunity," Head Coach Butch Jones said. "We have the BIG EAST officials here the next two days and that is invaluable. Everything is an ongoing process. We are getting better each and everyday. We need to continue to challenge to build depth."
During their time at Higher Ground, the officials will not only be on hand during practice, but also during meeting and film sessions to advise and explain how several new rule changes will be implemented for the 2011 season.
A crew from FOX Sports Ohio spent the day at Higher Ground taping Inside Bearcats Football 2011, a 30-minute preview show taking a look at the UC program entering the 2011 season.
Hosted by UC's own Tom Gelehrter, the show will feature interviews with Jones, QB Zach Collaros (Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville), LB JK Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle), RB Isaiah Pead (Columbus, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy), DT Derek Wolfe (Lisbon, Ohio/Beaver Local), WR DJ Woods (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville), DE Walter Stewart (Ashville, Ohio/Teays Valley), OT Alex Hoffman (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) and DB Dominique Battle (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage).
Inside Bearcats Football 2011 airs on FOX Sports Ohio and will debut on Aug. 26 at 10:30 p.m. The program will re-air on Aug. 27 (10:30 p.m.), Aug. 28 (9 p.m.), Aug. 30 (10:30 p.m.), Aug. 31 (11:30 p.m.), Sept. 1 (7:30 p.m.) and twice on Sept. 2 (6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.).
Pead was named the No. 7 Player in the BIG EAST by Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com while GoBEARCATS.com's Scott Springer has THIS take on Anthony McClung.
The Bearcats return to the practice field Saturday for a pair of practices at Higher Ground.
| THURSDAY, AUGUST 18
Countdown To Kickoff Day 16: George Smith Society Visits
Coach Weist Interview | O'Donnell Interview | Photo Gallery
WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The University of Cincinnati football team returned to the fields Thursday after an off day on Wednesday at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind. UC held a pair of practices, working out in shells in the morning and donning full pads in the evening.
UCATS' George Smith Society visited the evening practice, taking part in a program, raffle and dinner with the team. During dinner, each donor's table was paired up with UC coaches, student-athletes and staff. Following dinner and a Q&A session with head coach Butch Jones, participants were able to sit on individual position meetings, get screened on UC's Dynavision system and observe practice from right next to the turf.
For more information on the George Smith Society, click HERE.
Following practice, three more UC newcomers had their white helmet stripe removed by their big brother, officially welcoming them to the football family. Brandon Mitchell (Cincinnati, Ohio/Withrow), Daniel Murray (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines) and Chris Moore (Tampa, Fla./Thomas Jefferson) were called in front of the team by their big brothers, John Hughes (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln), Evan Davis (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) and Munchie Legaux (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr), respectively, and told why they were now worthy of wearing an all black helmet.
UC will return to the fields Friday for a single workout session.
| TUESDAY, AUGUST 16
Countdown To Kickoff Day 18: Two-A-Days Under The Lights
Coach Bajakian Interview | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI -The University of Cincinnati football team held a pair of practices Tuesday as Training Camp 2011 continued at the Higher Ground Conference & Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The morning session was in shells and featured heavy doses of special teams work while the evening full-pads practice focused on various field position situations for both the offense and defense.
ESPN.com is in the process of naming the Top-25 Players in the BIG EAST Conference. Today JK Schaffer checked in at No. 11. Previous Bearcats on the list are No. 16 DJ Woods and No. 21 Derek Wolfe. The Top-10 starts Wednesday.
SI.com also named its preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Three Bearcats made the list, running back Isaiah Pead, defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and punter Pat O'Donnell.
GoBEARCATS.com Scott Springer talked with Schaffer and Brandon Mills about the defense entering the 2011 season. Click HERE.
Also from the GoBEARCATS stable of writers, Paul Dehner has this STORY which talks about changing bodies in the Bearcats program, focusing on Walter Stewart, Adrien Robinson and Andre Cureton.
The Bearcats will not practice Wednesday, but return to the fields Thursday for another two-a-day session.
| MONDAY, AUGUST 15
Countdown To Kickoff Day 19: Freshmen Lose Their Stripes
Mickens Interview | Bearcat Cribs-Higher Ground | Workout Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team started week two of training camp with a two-hour workout under sunny skies at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The team held meetings in the morning ahead of a pre-practice lifting session for the defensive and offensive line, linebackers, and tight ends. The wide receivers, quarterbacks, running backs and defensive backs lifted following the close of practice.
Former UC standout Mike Mickens has joined the staff as a defensive assistant. He is assisting the defensive staff in all aspects on and off the field, including film breakdown, scouting, and practice preparation.
Mickens was a four-year letterwinner at UC (2005-08) and is the school's career leader in interceptions (14) and interception return yards (296). The 2008 Playboy and FWAA All-America selection was a semifinalist for the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award, a First-Team All-BIG EAST pick and two-time Second-Team All-BIG EAST Conference selection.
Realignment has been a hot topic of late in college football. Head Coach Butch Jones had the following comments when asked about how the BIG EAST Conference has positioned itself.
"We have a great conference and great leadership," Jones said. "We are exploring options of what we want to do and the best interests for the entire BIG EAST Conference. I think we are a very marketable conference. In terms of will there be institutions that will want to be a part of this great conference, I will leave that up to them. I'm a firm believer in you can only control what you control. The only thing we can control is getting our football team ready to compete for a BIG EAST Conference championship."
One sure sign camp is well underway is the news that the first stripes have been removed from the helmet of a UC newcomer. All newcomers have a white stripe on their helmet that is removed when each individuals big brother on the team feels they have earned it.
In Monday's team meeting, freshman defensive back Trenier Orr (Winter Garden, Fla./Ocoee) had his stripe pulled by big brother Camerron Cheatham (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central) and first-year wide receiver Shaq Washington (Maple Hts., Ohio/Maple Hts.) had his stripe removed by big brother Zach Collaros (Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville).
Dan Hoard, the Voice of the Bearcats, checks in from his summer job with the Pawtucket Red Sox with a story on Collaros and the UC offense. Read it HERE. Hoard, who was recently named the play-by-play voice for the Cincinnati Bengals, will be moving back to Cincinnati in the next month with his family after spending the past few years living in Boston.
Dave & Buster's Tri-County Location, which has served as the preferred road watch party host for UC games for the past three years will play host to a preseason event on Sunday, Aug. 28 from 7-8 p.m. Fans can find complete details HERE.
The Bearcats return to the field Tuesday for its second two-a-day session on the practice fields at Higher Ground.
| SUNDAY, AUGUST 14
Countdown To Kickoff Day 20: First Two-A-Day Workout In Books
Coach Banks Interview | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team held a pair of workouts Sunday, the first two-a-day session of the 2011 preseason at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
UC worked out in shells for 90 minutes in the morning and then donned full pads for a two-hour workout under the lights.
The Bearcats will open up the second week of preseason camp with a single workout Monday at Higher Ground.
| SATURDAY, AUGUST 13
Countdown To Kickoff Day 21: Bearcats In Full Pads
Coach Jones Interview | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team donned full pads for the first time Saturday during a two-hour workout under sunny and warm skies at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
"Well the great things are that we got some heat," Head Football Coach Butch Jones said. "So we had to go through some mental conditioning and scrimmage at the end. We are creating habits right now and it’s all about habits. Its practice 5 and we still need to clean things up. We are in no shape for game situations yet. Again it’s a cumulative affect and I like our leadership, like our mentality, but we still need to get tougher, and fight through some adversity things. The big thing is mental conditioning, mental toughness, and overall execution. We are still searching to find a receiving corps that’s consistent day in and day out."
Leading the receivers is 2010 Second-Team All-BIG EAST selection D.J. Woods (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville). He caught 57 balls for 898 yards in 2010. He added 10 touchdowns while also serving as UC’s primary punt and kick returner. He led the conference in all-purpose yardage and his 10 touchdowns (eight receiving, two rushing) tied for fourth in the BIG EAST.
The returning cast includes seniors Tomaz Hilton (Youngstown, Ohio/The Rayen) and Orion Woodard (Pompton Lakes, N.J./Pompton Lakes), juniors Bruce Horner (Southfield, Mich./Harrison) and Danny Milligan (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) and sophomore Anthony McClung (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike).
UC, looking to replace the downfield threat of 1,000-yard receiver Armon Binns, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, is getting its first look at transfer Kenbrell Thompkins (Miami, Fla./Northwestern/El Camino CC), junior-college transfer Damon Julian (Sicklerville, N.J./Winslow Township/Pierce College) and redshirt freshman Dyjuan Lewis (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) along with incoming freshmen Chris Moore (Tampa, Fla./Thomas Jefferson), a Parade Magazine All-American), Ralph David Abernathy IV (Atlanta, Ga./Westminster School), Alex Chisum (Fayetteville, Ga./Sandy Creek), Max Morrison (Kenton, Ohio/Kenton) and Shaq Washington (Maple Hts., Ohio/Maple Hts.).
Also in camp are walk-ons Jacob Giltrow (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) and Alex Heineman (Mission Viejo, Calif./Capistrano Valley).
UC returns to the praactice fields on Sunday with the first two-a-day session scheduled at Camp Higher Ground.
| FRIDAY, AUGUST 12
Countdown To Kickoff Day 22: Moving Day!
DeTemple & Robinson Interviews | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team moved its 2011 training camp home 27 miles to the east of campus, checking in at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
The entire move took just over three days and involved hauling over 15,000 lbs. of equipment to Higher Ground thanks to Bill Kissel and the crew from Bell Moving & Storage.
Among the things trucked to higher ground: all UC's practice equipment, coaches and staff luggage, a two-weeks supply of Gatorade, 5,000 lbs. of weights and weight room equipment, computers, printers and two complete video editing suites.
UC's players checked into their rooms earlier this afternoon, then had lunch, had an afternoon strength and conditioning workout, ahead of team and position group meetings tonight.
The Bearcats will hit the practice fields Saturday morning.
| THURSDAY, AUGUST 11
Countdown To Kickoff Day 23: Football Prepares To Move To Higher Ground
Coach Coombs Mic'd Up Video | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati held its final workout at Nippert Stadium for the next few weeks as the Bearcats will pack up their entire operation Thursday night and move east to the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
After two days of split squad workouts, the Bearcats held a full-squad practiced that stretched just over two hours and featured some extensive special teams work.
To close out practice, Head Coach Butch Jones elected senior transfer Shane Popham (Crestview Hills, Ky./Cov. Catholic/Wake Forest) to represent the defense and redshirt freshman Tony Miliano (North Bend, Ohio/Elder) to represent the offense in a field-goal kicking contest. The losing group had to run a gasser. Popham was 4-of-5 from distance ranging from 35-38 yards winning the defense an early break.
Jones hinted after practice that the competitive situations would continue as the kicking battle moves on through training camp.
"We will continue to do that," Jones said. "We have to continue to raise their blood pressure. It’s going to be critical, and kicking is pressure situations. So we will continue to manufacture as much pressure situations as we can."
Following practice Thursday, UC's equipment, sports medicine and video staffs loaded everything the team will need for the next two weeks into a semi in preparation for the trip. Several loads of equipment from the weight room were trucked to Higher Ground earlier this week. The team is set to depart campus Friday morning for the two-week stay on the road.
Two Bearcats, Munchie Legaux (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) and Silverberry Mouhon (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), made CNBC Business reporter Darren Rovell's College Football All-Name team.
UC will return to the practice field on Saturday.
| WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10
Countdown To Kickoff Day 24: Football Dons Shoulder Pads For Wednesday Workout
Hoffman Interview | Hughes Interview | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team donned shoulder pads for the first time this season, working out on the Nippert Stadium turf on a sunny Wednesday morning.
The Bearcats held their second of three split squad workouts, with two groups of players each having individual 18 period practices with a combined special teams session in between. For the UC coaching and support staffs, it meant four-straight hours of practice for the second straight day. The split was designed to maximize reps for all of UC's players helping to coaches to decide some key position battles.
One of the strengths of this year's defense should be the improved depth along the defensive line.
Derek Wolfe leads the defensive returners with 25 career starts. Wolfe and John Hughes give the Bearcats strength up the middle of the line. The duo will be backed up by Jordan Stepp and redshirt freshman Camaron Beard.
Brandon Mills led the squad in 2010 with 12.5 tackles for a loss and 6.0 sacks.
Walter Stewart moves full time back to defensive end after playing both the DL and LB spots the past two seasons. He has bulked up to 248 lbs and will team with returning starter Dan Giordano to provide the Bearcats with a better edge presence.
UC will return to the practice fields Thursday ahead of its move to the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind. on Friday for a two-week stay.
| TUESDAY, AUGUST 9
Countdown To Kickoff Day 25: Football Doubles Up With Split Squad Affair Tuesday
Pead Interview | Bomar Interview | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team held its second preseason workout Tuesday, under cooler cloudy conditions at Nippert Stadium.
The Bearcats held their first of three split squad workouts, with two groups of players each having individual 19 period practices with a combined special teams session in between. For the UC coaching and support staffs, it meant four-straight hours of practice. UC will hold additional split squad workouts on Wednesday and Thursday. The split is designed to maximize reps for all of UC's players helping to coaches to decide some key position battles.
One of the battles that will likely last throughout training camp is for the kicking job. UC must replace the record-setting work of four-year kicker Jacob Rogers, who is in camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Head coach Butch Jones is putting the kickers in a competition setting in each practice, making them hit pressure kicks with the team surrounding them.
A number of candidates for the job will be in camp, including senior transfer Shane Popham (Crestview Hills, Ky./Cov. Catholic/Wake Forest), redshirt freshman Tony Miliano (North Bend, Ohio/Elder) and true freshman A.J. Fleak (Sunbury, Ohio/Big Walnut). The battle will likely carry on throughout training camp and a starter might not be named until Austin Peay game week.
UC returns its starters at both punter and long snapper.
Pat O’Donnell (Lakeworth, Fla./Palm Beach Central) is one of the strongest punters in the country. ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman listed O'Donnell among his 2011 freaks list of the top workout warriors in the country. Read that full article HERE. In his first year of competition in 2010, he ranked fourth in the BIG EAST averaging almost 42 yards per punt (41.9). He’s also been consistent as our holder.
Long snapper Tom DeTemple brought consistency to the position a year ago, filling a void left by the graduation of Mike Windt. Now in his senior year, DeTemple will mentor true freshman Kirk Willis, who signed with the Bearcats in the winter.
| MONDAY, AUGUST 8
Countdown To Kickoff Day 26: Football Puts First Fall Workout In Books
Coach Jones Post Practice | Coach Jones Interview | Sights & Sounds | Photo Gallery
CINCINNATI - A long offseason came to a close Monday as the University of Cincinnati football team took to the field inside Nippert Stadium to open up preseason camp. The Bearcats worked out for a bit over two hours on a steamy day in the Queen City.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Butch Jones, many sights were familiar such as the pre-practice music, newcomers wearing a white stripe on their helmet and the return of the entire full-time coaching staff for a second season.
Some things were different though with new adidas practice jerseys at the top of the list. UC purchased a full compliment of black, red and white practice jerseys and the early reviews out of the student-athletes were very positive.
Coach Jones announced Monday that the team had selected senior quarterback Zach Collaros (Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville) and senior linebacker J.K. Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) as the team's permanant captains for the 2011 season. The Bearcats will elect two additional game captains for each game. The voting took place on Sunday night following the team meeting.
Jones, entering his second year with the Bearcats, returns 50 letterwinners from the 2010 squad, including the BIG EAST Conference's top retuning passer, receiver, rusher, tackler and leader in all-purpose yards on the 2011 squad.
Collaros threw for 2,902 yards and 26 touchdowns, earning unanimous First-Team All-BIG EAST honors at quarterback a year ago.
Tailback Isaiah Pead (Columbus, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy) ran for 1,029 yards and six TDs earning a spot on the Second-Team All-BIG EAST.
Schaffer (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) led the team and placed second in the league in 2010 with 110 tackles, snagging Second-Team All-BIG EAST accolades.
Wide receiver and return man D.J. Woods (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville) was one of the most productive players in the league a year ago, leading the BIG EAST in all-purpose yards, averaging 154.9 per game and taking Second-Team All-BIG EAST honors at wide receiver.
While most of the team participated in the off-season workout program, a pair of linebackers, Greg Blair (Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley/Lackawanna CC) and Clemente Casseus (Mirimar, Fla./Everglades) just reported in Sunday to bring the roster to 105 players entering training camp.
UC will try something a little different over the next three days, moving to split squad workouts in the mornings. Two groups, black and red, will each hold individual practices for just under two hours, with a combined special teams period in the middle. This will allow the Bearcats to maximize reps for both young and returning players as some key position battles continue to sort themselves out.