Aug. 27, 2007
Cincinnati vs. Southeast Missouri State Notes
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The University of Cincinnati football team kicks off the 2007 season by hosting Southeast Missouri State University at Nippert Stadium.
Brian Kelly guided the Bearcats to victory in the 2007 International Bowl. Tonight marks Kelly's much-anticipated debut at Nippert Stadium.
The Bearcats, who boast the fifth-oldest NCAA Bowl Subdivision program in the nation, launch their 120th season against a brand new foe as UC and Southeast Missouri State have never previously met on the gridiron.
The game is Armed Forces Appreciation Night at Nippert Stadium.
Cincinnati is 71-38-10 (.639) in season openers and is 51-37-3 (.577) in home openers. UC has won seven of its last 10 lid-lifters.
The Bearcats return 14 starters from a year ago with seven starters back on offense and seven on defense.SERIES NOTES
Cincinnati and Southeast Missouri State are meeting for the first time on the gridiron.
The Bearcats are 0-1 all-time in their history against teams from the Show Me State. In 1903, UC dropped a 23-11 decision to Washington U. (St. Louis).
Although the two sides have never met, the Bearcats are 6-0 all-time against members of the Ohio Valley Conference Cincinnati defeated OVC-member Eastern Kentucky in the 2006 season opener, 31-0. UC is 4-0 all-time vs. Austin Peay and 1-0 vs. Tennessee Tech.
Last season, Cincinnati raced off to a 31-0 victory. It marked UC's first shutout since the 1995 season, a span of 123 games.
UNLEASH THE CAT ATTACK: The much-anticipated unveiling of Brian Kelly's Cincinnati football team takes place on Thursday night when UC hosts Southeast Missouri State in the season opener for both teams. Already 1-0 as head coach of the Bearcats, following a 27-24 win over Western Michigan in the inaugural International Bowl, Kelly is poised to make his Nippert Stadium debut.
FRESH FACES: With the graduation of 15 seniors from its 2006 two-deep roster, including 10 senior starters, there are plenty of new faces on the field for Cincinnati this season. The Bearcats have had to replace four offensive starters, four defensive starters, and their punter, long snapper and kicker from a class that went to two bowl games. As many as 15 Bearcats are projected to make their first career starts in the season opener.
LUCKY SEVEN: When Brian Kelly came on board to lead the Bearcats on Dec. 4, 2006, he brought with him seven assistant coaches from Central Michigan. The lone holdover from the previous Cincinnati staff was Tim Hinton who moved from running backs to linebackers coach. Kelly hired former Colerain High School head coach Kerry Coombs once he arrived at UC.
FAMILIAR WITH THE REDHAWKS: Although Cincinnati and Southeast Missouri State have never met on the gridiron, Brian Kelly is familiar with his Week One opponent. Kelly earned his first victory as a Division I head coach on Sept. 18, 2004, when he directed Central Michigan to a 44-27 win over the Redhawks.
KELLY SET FOR HOME DEBUT: Entering his first full season as head coach of the Bearcats, Brian Kelly looking to become the 13th coach in Cincinnati history to win his first home game. UC head coaches are 12-8-1 in home debuts.
THROWN IN THE FIRE: There has been plenty of on-the-job training going on in the preseason, as six redshirt freshmen have landed spots on the two-deep. Cincinnati currently has one redshirt freshman (Jason Whitehead) listed on the defensive two-deep. On offense, UC has two redshirt freshmen (Marcus Barnett and Jason Kelce) projected to start in the opener and three redshirt freshmen (Mike Windt, Jake Rogers and Brandon Yingling) could see action on special teams.
UC vs. THE SHOW ME STATE: Steeped in tradition on the gridiron, Cincinnati must look back to 1903 for its only previous meeting against a team from Missouri. With a 23-11 loss to Washington U. in St. Louis, UC is 0-1 all-time against teams from the "Show Me State".
BEARCATS FROM MISSOURI: The Bearcats' lone Missourian on its roster is sophomore tight end Kazeem Alli. Alli, a 2006 Sporting News All-BIG EAST Freshman Team selection hails from Hazelwood Central High School in St. Louis.
OPENING ON THE RIGHT NOTE: Cincinnati is 71-38-10 (.639) all-time in season openers. UC has opened the season with a win in four of its last five seasons.
KICKING OFF THE YEAR AT HOME: The 2007 campaign marks the third consecutive season in which Cincinnati begins the year with a home game. When opening the season at home, UC owns an impressive 36-14-3 record for a .708 winning percentage all-time. The Bearcats have won five straight home openers, dating back to Sept. 2, 2002, when they needed overtime to out duel TCU, 36-29. They have started the home schedule with a victory in seven of the last eight years.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Over the past four seasons, the Bearcats are 17-6 (.739) when playing at Nippert Stadium. They posted a 6-1 mark in 2006, including a 30-11 victory over then-No. 7 Rutgers, the highest ranked foe ever to fall at UC.
ON THIS DATE: Cincinnati is 0-1 all-time when playing on Aug. 30 and is 2-1 in games played in the month of August. On Aug. 30, 1996, UC dropped a 34-14 decision to Tulane. On Aug. 31, 1985, the Bearcats defeated Virginia Tech 31-14 and on Aug. 82, 1997, the Bearcats topped Tulsa 34-24.
FEEL LIKE PART OF THE FAMILY: As a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Cincinnati enjoys ample television exposure. The Bearcats are set to appear on the ESPN Family of networks in each of their first four games of the 2007 season. The matchup against Southeast Missouri State is set for broadcast on ESPN's broadband distributor of sports programming, ESPN360. The following week, they host Oregon State on ESPN. The Bearcats also enjoy back-to-back weeks on ESPN Regional, when they travel to Miami (OH) and host Marshall.
SWEAT IN THE WEIGHT ROOM ALREADY PAYING DIVIDENDS: Director of strength and conditioning Paul Longo has already proved himself a welcome addition to the Cincinnati athletics department. Given a mission by Brian Kelly when he came on board in January 2007, Longo has molded the Bearcats into a new team able to handle the rigors of the tempo and pace preached by the head football coach. The numbers below show the marked improvement in Longo's brief tenure:
(Averages by position group, increase from 2006 in pounds)
Bench Press: 375 (+40), Squat: 525 (+50), Chin ups: 10 (+7)
Bench Press: 370(+20), Squat: 505 (+35), Chin ups: 17 (+8)
Weight: 223 (-4), Bench Press: 355 (+25), Squat: 500 (+65), Chin ups: 24 (+8)
Weight: 218 (-15), Body Fat: 6.5% (-4.5), Squat: 500 (+30), Chin ups: 30 (+15)
Bench Press: 365 (+50), Squat: 500 (+85), Chin ups: 23 (+13)
Bench Press: 310 (+25), Squat: 415 (+25), Chin ups: 30 (+5)
Weight: 194 (-6), 225 Repetitions: 10 (+3), Chin ups: 30 (+11)
Bench Press: 290 (+35), Squat: 400 (+35), Chin ups: 22(+8)
RETURNING WITH HOPES OF MORE ALL-BIG EAST AWARDS: The Bearcats return three juniors who received All-BIG EAST recognition a year ago. Named to the first- team defense in 2006, defensive tackle Terrill Byrd is back for his junior campaign. Cornerback Mike Mickens and right guard Trevor Canfield were both all-league second team selections.
IT's ACADEMIC: Cincinnati's football program was honored by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as one of 32 teams in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision to graduate 70 percent or more of their student-athletes. The survey involved the freshman class from the academic year of 2001-02 UC was one of four BIG EAST teams to be honored.
SCOUTING REPORT: Noted for his ingenious offensive schemes, Brian Kelly is set to move Cincinnati to a no-huddle offense that emphasizes stretching the field and finding openings to attack via the run or pass. UC finished 61st in total offense in 2006, but has undergone a new look for 2007. Look for the Bearcats to employ three wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations and personnel groupings.
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's offense matches up with a Southeast Missouri State defense that posted mixed results last season. Southeast Missouri State allowed 30 or points on four occasions in 2006, including 63 at Arkansas. On the year, the Redhawks ranked 93rd in the NCAA Championship Subdivision in total defense (376.2 ypg) and 96th (27.9 ppg) in scoring defense. The Redhawks return 14 letterwinners back on defense, led by linebacker Adam Casper who totaled 108 tackles as a junior.
MAUK IS THE MAN: The Bearcats list four possible quarterbacks on the two-deep, but Brian Kelly announced Ben Mauk would be the starter on Sunday, Aug. 26. For Mauk, it will be the second consecutive year he has taken his team's first snap from center. A year ago, he started the season opener for Wake Forest vs. Syracuse, before suffering a season-ending injury.
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE: The triumvirate of Butler Benton, Bradley Glatthaar and Greg Moore enter their final campaign together after splitting the carries for three years. Moore paced the Bearcats in rushing a year ago with 709 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Benton collected 497 yards and shared the scoring lead with four scores. Recruited as a running back, sophomore Jacob Ramsey comes into the fold to challenge for carries after serving as a defensive back during his first season.
TIGHT END COMPETITION: A common theme up and down the offensive side UC has three veterans sharing time at tight end. A junior, Connor Barwin looks to hold onto the starting honors, while Earnest Jackson and Doug Jones will compete for playing time. Jackson is a converted wide receiver while Jones was formerly a fullback.
GOODIE LEADS INEXPERIENCED GROUP OF RECEIVERS: The top receiver a year ago, Dominick Goodman is back to serve as the leader of a talented, yet inexperienced receiving corps. Goodman totaled 40 catches, including five for touchdown in 2006. Both redshirt freshman Marcus Barnett and sophomore Marshwan Gilyard are prepared to start their first career games. Seniors Mike Daniels and Antwuan Giddens have been impressive during the preseason, but own a combined one start between them. Jared Martin, who scored a touchdown at Ohio State last fall, Charley Howard and Curt Shoemaker are also expected to see action.
FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES: The Bearcats' offense returns four starters who will be beginning the 2007 season at new positions. Tackles Digger Bujnoch and Jeff Linkenbach still bookend the offensive line, but they switched sides over the summer. Tight ends Earnest Jackson and Doug Jones were starters last year at wide receiver and fullback, respectively. scouting report: Boasting seven returning starters on one of the BIG EAST's top defensive units, the Bearcats are ready for 2007. UC ended last season 25th nationally in rushing defense (107.5 ypg) and 31st in total defense (309.2 ypg).
THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's defense faces a Southeast Missouri State offense that is keyed by junior running back Timmy Holloman, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2006. The Redhawks ranked 63rd nationally in the Championship Subdivision in rushing with 137.9 yards per game. The Redhawk offense finished 105th in passing ( 116.0 ypg) and 111th in total offense (253.9 ypg) last fall.
UPFRONT AND PERSONAL: Cincinnati's frontline is keyed by junior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd. The 2004 Gatorade National High School Defensive Player of the Year, Byrd has not missed a start since arriving on the UC campus. The Cincinnati product registered 31 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in 2006.
STRENGTH ON THE OUTSIDE: Outside linebackers Leo Morgan and Corey Smith provide ample experience for the Bearcats defense. Both returning starters, Morgan totaled 62 tackles while Smith tallied 60 stops last fall.
SECONDARY PACKS A PUNCH: Another strength of the Cincinnati defense, the secondary boasts two-year starters Haruki Nakamura and Mike Mickens. In 2005, both Nakamura and Mickens made it into the starting lineup and never looked back. Nakamura moved to strong safety this year after starting 24 straight games at free safety. Mickens, who missed one game as a true freshman, has finished each of his first two seasons in the top 10 nationally in passes defended. His three interceptions and 15 pass breakups a year ago, listed him eighth in the final NCAA numbers.
The Special Teams
SCOUTING REPORT: Special teams will play a large role this season if the Bearcats are to be successful and they have three first-time starters at key positions. Junior Kevin Huber boasts seven career punts (38.1 avg), and is also the holder for placements. Huber's only action last season came in the International Bowl, where he boomed two punts for a 50.5 yards per punt average. Redshirt freshmen Mike Windt has earned the long-snapping duties for the opener. The battle continues between redshirt freshmen Jake Rogers and Brandon Yingling for the kicking duties.
KICKING UP THE KICK RETURN GAME: Dominick Goodman who averaged 25.8 yards per return is back for another year as the deep kickoff return man. DeAngelo Smith, who averaged 20.2 yards on four kickoff returns, is also ready to return kickoffs. Sophomore Jacob Ramsey will also see action on the kickoff return team. An experienced kickoff and punt returner, Mike Daniels is an able reserve. Daniels is seventh on UC's all-time list in kickoff returns (40) and eighth in kickoff return yardage (777). Haruki Nakamura, who carded five punt returns for 2.8 yards per return and Smith are expected to be the primary punt returners.