Bearcats Host No. 16 Huskies in BIG EAST

Haruki Nakamura
Football |

Nov. 6, 2007

Connecticut Game Notes

BEARCATS HOST BIG EAST LEADER IN "ELIMINATION GAME": Cincinnati entertains No. 16 Connecticut in its first home game in almost a month, after a heart-stopping 38-33 victory at USF. With three BIG EAST Conference games remaining, the Bearcats (7-2 overall, 2-2 in BIG EAST) are looking to stay alive in the BIG EAST race. With an unblemished series record against Connecticut, UC can move to 3-0 against Top 25 teams this season in front of its home fans at Nippert Stadium.

VOTERS TAKE NOTICE: Receiving votes from the national pundits for eight consecutive weeks, Cincinnati finds itself on the doorstep of the Top 25 once again. After receiving a mere eight votes from the USA Today Coaches' Poll a week ago, this week, Cincinnati is two slots outside of the Top 25 in the AP Poll with 68 votes and is three positions away from the USA Today Coaches' Poll with 58 tallies.

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: Enjoying its finest start in history, Connecticut stands at 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the BIG EAST Conference for the first time. Randy Edsall, who took the Huskies from Division I-AA to Football Bowl Subdivision in 2002, is 49-52 in his ninth season at the helm. A perfect 6-0 at home, the Huskies have won three consecutive games, with their lone misstep occurring at Virginia.

NOVEMBER IS FOR CONTENDERS: Cincinnati soared into the national spotlight, on the strength of a 6-0 start, reaching No. 15 in the AP Poll. With Brian Kelly preaching all the while that what happens in November is more important than September's non-conference slate, UC is 1-0 in the final month of the season with three games remaining. In his 18th season as a head coach, Kelly is 46-12 all-time in games played after Nov. 1. He posted a 38-7 record in November and December at Grand Valley State. Kelly was 6-1 down the stretch last season, including a win at Central Michigan in the MAC Championship Game and the International Bowl victory for Cincinnati.



KELLY BOASTS IMPRESSIVE RECORD with bearcats: Dating back to the 2007 International Bowl, Brian Kelly is 8-2 as head coach of the Bearcats. The only first-year coach to ever start his tenure 7-0 at UC, Kelly surpassed Russ Cohen, who went 7-2 in his first season, for the most wins ever by a first-year coach.

KELLY AMONG THE NATION'S ELITE COACHES: People in Cincinnati know Brian Kelly is an excellent football coach, but do they know he is one of the winningest active coaches in Division I Bowl Subclassification? Utilizing winning percentage, Kelly is listed 11th among active coaches with a minimum of five full years experience.

PLAYING TAKEAWAY: UC is third nationally with a giveaway/takeaway margin of +1.67 per game. The Bearcats have yielded nine interceptions and 10 fumbles, but have created 34 turnovers (13 fumble recoveries, 21 interceptions).

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: With a reputation for defense, Cincinnati has added a potent offensive punch in 2007. The Bearcats have scored 339 points (37.7 per game), a number never attained before in the first nine games of any season in school history. Cincinnati's propensity for points is more than 75 percent of the way to eclipsing its highest scoring output for a season of 409 points, which was accomplished over 14 games during the 2002 campaign.

TURNING DEFENSE INTO OFFENSE: Taking advantage of the opponents' miscues, the Bearcats have scored 114 points off of opponents' turnovers.

AGAINST RATED OPPONENTS: Facing a Top 25-rated team at home for the first time this season, Cincinnati owns a 7-60 all-time record against Top 25 opponents. Victorious in its last three contests against Top 25 competition, UC is unbeaten in two matchups this season against nationally ranked foes. The last time Cincinnati hosted a Top 25 team, UC topped then-No. 7 Rutgers 30-11, on Nov. 18, 2006.

AS A RANKED TEAM: Outside of the Top 25 after spending four straight weeks among the country's Top 25 earlier in the season, Cincinnati's 24-17 loss at Pittsburgh moved its record to 3-5-1 all-time as a ranked team.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Off to a 3-1 start at home in 2007, over the past four seasons, the Bearcats are 20-7 (.741) when playing at Nippert Stadium. They posted a 6-1 mark at home in 2006. Head Coach Brian Kelly boasts an all-time mark of 77-17-1 in home games over his 18 seasons.

ON THIS DATE: Cincinnati is 3-7-1 all-time when playing on Nov. 10. UC won its first recorded contest on Nov. 10, 15-7 over Ohio Northern. Cincinnati is 0-2 when playing against ranked foes on Nov. 10. In 1990, Cincinnati lost at No. 12 Florida State, 70-12. In 1984, UC suffered a 60-0 setback to No. 20 Auburn. The last time Cincinnati played on this date was Nov. 3, 2001 when UC scored the final 23 points of the game, but came up short in the waning seconds to East Carolina, 28-26.

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.

SCOUTING REPORT: Noted for his ingenious offensive schemes, Brian Kelly has moved Cincinnati to a no-huddle offense that emphasizes stretching the field and finding openings to attack via the run or pass. UC is listed 12th nationally in scoring (37.7 points per game) and 31st in total offense (429.4 yards per game). The Bearcats employ three and four wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations and personnel groupings.

THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's offense matches up with a Connecticut defense that gave up 168 rushing yards and 511 yards of total offense in a 38-19 win last week over Rutgers. Nine games into the season, the Huskies' defense is listed third in scoring defense (13.7 points per game) and 19th in total defense (317.4 yards per game). The Huskies defense is led by Danny Lansanah who leads the team with 94 tackles, including 10.5 for loss.

PENCHANT FOR POINTS: Cincinnati has scored 339 points, a number never reached in the first nine games of any season in school history. No team has matched the 37.7 points per game accomplished thus far by the 2007 Bearcats.

RUNNING THE SPREAD AND SPREADING THE RUN: seeing the shotgun formation, fans expect to see the pigskin flying from all angles, but Cincinnati has shown an ability to run the football at a rate of 167.7 yards per game. UC has rushed for more than 200 yards in three contests this season. Cincinnati amassed 314 yards on the ground against Southeast Missouri State, 217 vs. Marshall and 263 at San Diego State.

OFFENSIVE BINGE AND PURGE: Cincinnati's 31 points in the first 15 minutes at USF are the most UC has scored in any quarter in history. Cincinnati went on to card seven points in the rest of the game of a 38-33 victory at USF. This season's previous high mark for scoring in a quarter was 28 points, which came in the 52-23 win at San Diego State.

GIDDENS MAKES THE MOST OF STARTING ROLE: Making his first start at wide receiver since the season opener, Antwuan Giddens made the most of it by coming up with a 63-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring for UC at USF. Giddens' catch and run marked Cincinnati's fourth pass play of 50 yards or more this season. All four pass plays resulted in touchdowns. The effort was the longest reception of Giddens' career and his first touchdown of the season. Later in the opening frame, the senior receiver recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for his second score of the day.

MAUK USES HIS LEGS AT PITT: Ben Mauk's 55-yard rush on Cincinnati's first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh was not only his longest rush of the season, but also the longest run of his collegiate career. Counting his opening scamper, Mauk totaled 94 yards on 10 carries at Heinz Field. His previous career-long rush went for 27 yards, on Nov. 27, 2004, in a 13-7 victory for Wake Forest over Maryland.

MAUK SHOWS HIS MOXIE AGAINST CARDINALS: Quarterback Ben Mauk enjoyed another banner day, completing 26-of-45 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, in the loss to Louisville. Mauk established new career highs in attempts, completions and yardage in the 28-24 loss. Over his last five outings, Mauk has tossed 13 touchdowns against five interceptions.

THE BIONIC ARM CONTINUES COMEBACK: A graduate-transfer, Ben Mauk continues to live his comeback season at Cincinnati. Twelve months after suffering a catastrophic arm injury, that required three screws in his shoulder and eight pins in his arm at Wake Forest, Mauk was the starting quarterback for UC in its first game of the 2007 season. The Kenton, OH product is 15th nationally with a passer rating of 152.82 and has completed 63.4 percent of his pass attempts. The season opener marked the third straight season in which Mauk handled his team's first snap from center. In both 2005 and 2006 he started the season opener for Wake Forest.

ENJOYING THE RED ZONE: Cincinnati has been nearly perfect at scoring when penetrating the opposition's 20 yard line. UC scored on its first 12 drives inside their opponents' red zone before a missed field goal at Miami (OH) stopped the streak. Cincinnati has converted 36-of-41 red zone trips (87.8 percent) into points.

REDSHIRT BARNETT SETTING ROOKIE RECEIVING RECORDS: The owner of Cincinnati's longest play of the season, an 80-yard touchdown catch at San Diego State, Marcus Barnett is keying the Bearcats receiving corps. After sitting out the 2006 season as a redshirt, Barnett is second on the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (495). He his eight touchdown catches not only leads the Bearcats, but they are the most ever tallied by a first-year player at UC.

GOODMAN LEADS RECEIVERS: UC's top target a year ago, Dominick Goodman leads a talented receiving corps. Goodman has a team-high 41 catches for 485 yards this season after finishing with 40 catches.

GOODMAN SURPASSES 1,000 RECEIVING YARDS: Snagging career-highs of 11 catches for 141 yards against Louisville, Dominick Goodman eclipsed the 1,000 receiver yards mark for his career. With his 93 career grabs, Goodman is 11 catches away from reaching UC's career Top 10 list for receptions. He has 1,100 career receiving yards and is tied for eighth in the UC record book with 12 career touchdown catches.

TIGHT END COMPETITION: UC has three veterans vying for time at tight end. A converted wide receiver, Earnest Jackson has 11 catches for 118 yards. Connor Barwin has made 16 receptions for 208 yards. Doug Jones scored his second rushing touchdown of the year at Pitt on a three-yard plunge and has three receptions for 21 yards to his credit this season.

JACKSON SURPASSES 1,000-YARD BARRIER: Formerly a wide receiver, Earnest Jackson used a 32-yard catch at USF to put him over the 1,000 receiving yards mark for his career. The senior has 1,019 yards on 79 career catches.

RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE: The senior triumvirate of Butler Benton, Bradley Glatthaar and Greg Moore, have all eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for their careers and are splitting the carries for the fourth and final year together. The group keyed a ground game that rushed for 263 yards at San Diego State. Sharing the load was evident at Miami (OH), where Glatthaar collected 43 yards, Benton rushed for 42 and Moore gained 41 of UC's 141 rushing yards.

RAMSEY REWARDED WITH RARE START: Sophomore running back Jacob Ramsey garnered the starting nod at USF and totaled 40 yards on 21 carries in the first extensive action of his career. Third on the team with 276 rushing yards, Ramsey is averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

BENTON LEADING THE GROUND GAME: One of three senior running backs, Butler Benton is pacing the Bearcats' ground attack with 434 yards on 89 attempts. UC's active leader with 1,671 career rushing yards, Benton is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. His 12 carries for 101 yards vs. Southeast Missouri State marks the Bearcats' lone 100-yard rushing performance of the year.

ALL HE DOES IS SCORE TOUCHDOWNS: Bradley Glatthaar is the most efficient rusher in the running back rotation, totaling six touchdowns on 38 carries this year. Glatthaar's three-yard run at Rutgers moved him into a tie for seventh in the UC record books with the 19th rushing score of his career.

PLENTY OF RECEIVING TARGETS: The Bearcats' aerial attack spreads the ball to a multitude of receivers and 15 different Bearcats have caught passes this year. Even more generous, the offense has seen nine different targets catch touchdowns tosses.

SCOUTING REPORT: Boasting seven returning starters on one of the BIG EAST's top defensive units, the Bearcats are allowing 17.9 points per game, to rank No. 15 in the country in scoring defense. Leading the country with 34 takeaways, the `Cats are listed 20th against the run (107.3 ypg), and 63rd in total defense (377.3 ypg).

THE MATCHUP: Cincinnati's defense must contend with Connecticut quarterback Tyler Lorenzen and a diverse lineup of running backs, lead by Andre Dixon. A transfer from Iowa State, via Palomar J.C., Lorenzen has passed for 1,723 yards and 11 touchdowns against four interceptions. Dixon has totaled 645 yards on the ground in seven games. The Huskies are listed 38th in the country in rushing offense (174.8 ypg) and 41st in scoring offense (31.1 ppg).

STINGY BEARCATS: Third in the BIG EAST and 15th nationally in scoring defense, the Bearcats have allowed 161 points (16.0 ppg) this season. The last time Cincinnati allowed fewer than 161 points through its first nine games of the season was the 1977 campaign. In 1977, UC used three shutouts and gave up 118 points on its way to a 5-2-2 start.

OPPORTUNITIES FALL INTO BEARCATS' HANDS AT RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM: Cincinnati equaled a school record by forcing eight turnovers in the 38-33 win at USF. UC collected four interceptions and four fumble recoveries and would have added another, but NCAA statistics do not recognize statistics on PAT tries. The other game in which UC forced eight turnovers was a 28-21 victory at Rice on Sept. 21, 1974.

BEARCAT SACK ATTACK: Cincinnati is tied for 28th in the nation with 24 sacks for a 2.67 sacks per game average. Anthony Hoke and Lamonte Nelms registered one sack each at USF. Cincinnati carded a season-high five quarterback sacks in the triumph at Miami (OH). The five quarterback sacks were the most by UC since it notched five on Oct. 29, 2005 in a 22-16 win at Syracuse.

STUFFING THE GROUND GAME: Cincinnati proved it is good against the top rushing offenses in the county once again by limiting USF to 99 yards on 37 carries for a 2.7 yards per carry average. Yielding 107.3 rushing yards per game, UC has allowed two opponents to surpass the century mark when Southeast Missouri State tallied 175 yards and Pittsburgh rushed for 260.

MICKENS IS AROUND THE FOOTBALL: The much-ballyhooed Mike Mickens showed why he is one of the best cornerbacks in the country on two game-changing plays in the 38-33 win at USF. Mickens picked off a pass and outran the competition 79 yards up the left sideline to give UC a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. Just as memorable was his leaping pass breakup in the end zone with two seconds remaining to preserve the win. Mickens shares the team lead with five interceptions. The junior started his season with two interceptions and six tackles in the victory over Southeast Missouri State. Mickens' first pick off stopped a drive in the end zone; he stepped in front of a pass and returned the second interception 45 yards for a touchdown. He added his third interception at Miami (OH). The two-time all-BIG EAST performer has finished each of his first two seasons in the top 10 nationally in passes defended.

UC TOUGH IN THE RED ZONE: No pushover on defense, Cincinnati has allowed only 71.0 of opponents' drives (22-of-31) inside its own 20 yard line to result in scores. UC has given up 12 touchdowns on 31 drives inside their own Red Zone.

DeAngelo Smith IS MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF: In his first year as a starter, cornerback DeAngelo Smith has had no trouble making a name for himself. Smith is tied for the BIG EAST lead with five pickoffs. He returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown at Miami (OH). One ahead of fellow cornerback Mike Mickens for the team lead with 10 passes defended, Smith is listed in a tie for 44th nationally in the category.

HELLO AGAIN, Corey Smith: Third on the squad with 59 tackles, Corey Smith continues to chase down ballcarriers from his outside linebacker spot. A three-year starter for Cincinnati, Smith has registered 26 solo tackles and 33 assists. Second among active Bearcats, the Salem, N.J. native has 183 career stops.

NAKAMURA PACKS A PUNCH: The leader of the secondary, Haruki Nakamura is tops on the team lead with 61 tackles (35 solo, 26 assists). Nakamura finished with 10 tackles, all solos at USF. The senior safety forced a pair of fumbles and tallied his fourth interception of the year in the 38-33 victory. The senior safety paced Cincinnati with eight tackles (2 solo, 6 assists) and a forced fumble vs. Southeast Missouri State. The Bearcats' active leader with 206 career stops, Nakamura paced the team with 76 tackles during the 2005 campaign.

SENIORS BOOKEND DEFENSIVE FRONT: The duo of senior defensive ends Angelo Craig and Anthony Hoke provide a steady presence for the Bearcats defensive front. In his first year as a full-time starter, Craig has 26 tackles to his credit. The Cleveland native has 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career. Hoke leads the squad with 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. The Warren, OH product has tallied 15 career sacks.

BYRD UNCAGED: Having to sit out the first game of the season, junior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd has responded with 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. In his first action of the season, he totaled three tackles, including one for loss against Oregon State. One week later, Byrd tallied two sacks at Miami (OH). He totaled five tackles, including 2.5 for loss in the victory over Marshall. The 2004 Gatorade National High School Defensive Player of the Year, Byrd is a returning first-team all-BIG EAST performer.

The Special Teams

SCOUTING REPORT: Special teams have already played a large role this season in the Bearcats' success. Three first-year starters junior punter and holder Kevin Huber, redshirt freshman long snapper Mike Windt and redshirt freshman kicker Jake Rogers are making names for themselves as specialists.

HUBER LEADING THE NATION: Junior Kevin Huber entered the season with seven career punts for a 38.1 average, but has shown to be one of the best in the country in the early going. Huber is averaging 46.4 yards on 38 punts this season. Huber boomed a career-long 62-yard punt at Miami (OH) and then kicked two 62-yarders in the victory over Marshall. Not only kicking long, Huber has notched 14 punts inside the opposition's 20 and four have been downed on the opposition's 1.

HUBER SETS RECORD DAY: Behind a pair of 62-yard punts, Kevin Huber established a Cincinnati single-game record with a 59.7 yard per punt average on three kicks against Marshall.

ROGERS REBOUNDS AFTER SHAKY START: Redshirt freshman Jake Rogers rebounded from his shaky start to convert field goals of 38 and 55 yards in the 34-3 victory over Oregon State. One week after converting 1-of-3 PAT kicks and missing a 47-yard field goal, his 55-yarder was the second-longest field goal in UC history. Rogers is currently 8-of-15 on field goals and 37-of-39 on PAT kicks. He has converted 36 consecutive PATs.

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 last season, is also ready to return kickoffs. 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).

NEW NAMES IN return game: Sophomore Jacob Ramsey has been the Bearcat top returner early this season. Ramsey has returned 16 kickoffs for 351 yards, a 21.9 yards per return average. Ramsey saw limited action on kickoff coverage a year ago. Dominick Goodman has 12 returns for 244 yards (20.3 yards per return) to his credit this season. Marshwan Gilyard averaged 22.0 yards on eight kickoff returns in 2005 and has two returns for 48 yards (24.0 yards per return) this season.

NAKAMURA PROVIDES STEADY HANDS ON PUNT RETURNS: Not known for owning breakaway speed, Haruki Nakamura has carded 65 yards on 10 punt returns. Nakamura registered a career-long 24-yard return at Rutgers. He totaled five punt returns for 2.8 yards per return a year ago.

BLOCK THAT KICK, AGAIN! More noted for his prowess as a walk-on for the basketball team each of the last two seasons, junior tight end Connor Barwin carded Cincinnati's third blocked punt of the year and Antwuan Giddens recovered the bounding ball in the end zone at USF. Barwin's block marked is the third punt block of the year for UC. The Bearcats have scored either a safety or a touchdown on each of its three punt blocks. One week after Marshwan Gilyard blocked a punt against Oregon State, Gilyard repeated the feat at Miami (OH). Against Oregon State, Gilyard's block was recovered in the end zone by Marcus Barnett. Against Miami (OH), the Bearcats' 2006 scout team special teams player of the year's block went through the end zone for a safety.

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