No. 24 Bearcats Invade Carrier Dome in Regular Season Finale
gobearcats.COM Ben Mauk
gobearcats.COM
Ben Mauk
gobearcats.COM

Nov. 19, 2007

SYRACUSE NOTES

 

STORY LINES

• The Bearcats, listed 24th in this week's AP Poll and BCS Standings, look to match its highest win output in 54 years, when they invade the Carrier Dome on Saturday night. 

 

Cincinnati (8-3 overall, 3-3 BIG EAST) caps its regular season at Syracuse (2-9, 1-5 BIG EAST) in the final game of the 2007 schedule for both teams.  Trailing in the all-time series, UC can even the all-time series at 4-4 with a victory.


 

 

 

• Quarterback Ben Mauk has posted one of the top seasons of any passer in Cincinnati football lore.  Mauk is currently third in UC single-season history in passing touchdowns (23) and passing efficiency (149.93).  He is sixth in completion percentage (60.3), eighth in passing yards (2,356) and completions (176) and 10th in attempts (292).  The graduate transfer, who spent the past four years at Wake Forest, faces the same Syracuse team that he suffered his career-changing injury against last season.

 

BEARCATS wrap up regular season inside carrier dome:  No. 24 Cincinnati travels to Syracuse for the 2007 regular season finale on Saturday night.  With a 4-1 road record this season, Cincinnati is looking to take its third consecutive victory against Syracuse.

 

VOTERS TAKE NOTICE:  Receiving votes from the national pundits for a program-nbest 11 consecutive weeks, Cincinnati maintained a position in this week's Associated Press Top 25.  At No. 24 in the AP Poll with 149 votes, Cincinnati is listed as the first team outside of the  USA Today Coaches' Poll Top 25 with 63 tallies.

 

SCOUTING THE orange:  A historic BIG EAST Conference football power, Syracuse is 2-9 overall and 1-5 in league play.  An even 1-1 against Top 25 teams this season, the Orange are directed by Greg Robinson, who is in his third year at the helm of the program.

 

a win would land uc on cloud nine:  At 8-3, Cincinnati has matched its best regular-season victory total since Tim Murphy directed his final squad to an 8-3 mark in 1993.  Fifteen years since that eight-win season, a triumph in the regular-season finale would be the ninth of the season for UC.  Cincinnati has not tallied nine wins since a posting a 9-1 record in 1953.

 

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 2-1 in the final month of the season.  In his 18th season as a head coach, Kelly is 47-13 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 9-3 as head coach of the Bearcats.  The only first-year coach to 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 12th among active coaches with a minimum of five full years experience. 

    Rank  Coach (School)                                                    Record                         Pct.

         1.    Pete Carroll (USC)                                                     73-14                        .839

         2.    Urban Meyer (Florida)                                               69-15                        .821

         3.    Bob Stoops (Oklahoma)                                           95-21                        .819

         4.    Mark Richt (Georgia)                                                 70-19                        .787

         5.    Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee)                                   145-44                        .767

         6.    Bobby Bowden (Florida State)                        373-117-4                        .759

         7.    Lloyd Carr (Michigan)                                             120-40                        .750

         8.    Joe Paterno (Penn State)                                 371-125-3                        .746

         9.    Steve Spurrier (South Carolina)                         163-55-2                        .745

      10.    Jim Tressel (Ohio State)                                     208-72-2                        .741

      11.    Paul Johnson (Navy)                                               106-39                        .731

      12.    Brian Kelly (Cincinnati)                                       146-54-2                        .728

      13.    Dan Hawkins (Colorado)                                      99-39-1                        .716

      14.    Gary Patterson (TCU)                                                60-25                        .706

      15.    Dennis Erickson (Arizona State)                        157-66-1                        .703

 

PLAYING TAKEAWAY:  UC is third nationally with a giveaway/takeaway margin of +1.55 per game.  The Bearcats have yielded nine interceptions and 12 fumbles, but have created 38 turnovers (15 fumble recoveries, 23 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 389 points (35.4 per game), a number never attained before in the first 11 games of any season in school history.  Cincinnati's propensity for points is 20 points away from surpassing 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 128 points off of opponents' turnovers.  Below are the turnovers and resulting points for Cincinnati:

            Opponent                                   Turnovers          Points Off of Turnovers

            Southeast Missouri State                              6                                                    27

            Oregon State                                                  7                                                    24

            Miami (OH)                                                     4                                                    14

            Marshall                                                           2                                                    14

            San Diego State                                             2                                                      7

            Rutgers                                                            4                                                    14

            Louisville                                                         0                                                      0

            Pittsburgh                                                       1                                                      0

            USF                                                                   8                                                    14

            Connecticut                                                    1                                                      7

            West Virginia                                                  3                                                      7

 

Against rated opponents:  After having its string of four-straight wins over Top 25 teams snapped last week, Cincinnati owns an 8-61 all-time record against Top 25 opponents.  UC is 3-1 in four matchups this season against nationally ranked foes.

 

As a ranked team:  Listed No. 24 by the AP this week, Cincinnati is 3-6-1 all-time as a ranked team.  The Bearcats' record as an AP ranked team is listed below:

Date                         Rank            Opponent                             Result

Nov. 11, 2007              21            No. 5 West Virginia               L, 28-23

Oct. 14, 2007               23            at Pittsburgh                          L, 24-17

Oct. 7, 2007                 15            Louisville                                L, 28-24       

Sept. 30, 2007             20            at No. 21 Rutgers                  W, 28-23

Sept. 23, 2007             24            at San Diego State                W, 52-23

Oct. 25, 1976               20            at No. 5 Maryland                  L, 21-0

Nov. 8, 1954                   8            at Wichita State                     L, 20-16

Nov. 1, 1954                13            at Arizona State                     W, 34-7

Oct. 25, 1954               20            DETROIT-MERCY                    T, 0-0

Nov. 12, 1951              20            XAVIER                                    L, 26-0

 

There's No Place Like Home:  Finishing 4-2 at home, over the past four seasons, the Bearcats are 21-8 (.724) 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 78-18-1 in home games over his 18 seasons.

 

On This Date:  Cincinnati is 3-9 all-time when playing on Nov. 24.  UC lost its first four confrontations on Nov. 24-- all against Miami (OH) -- and is 2-6 against Miami (OH) on this date.  The last time Cincinnati played on this date was Nov. 24, 2001.  That day, Gino Guidugli culminated an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown strike to Jon Olinger with four seconds left to give UC a 36-34 win at Memphis.

 

The Offense

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 19th nationally in scoring (35.4 points per game) and 33rd in total offense (426.6 yards per game).  The Bearcats employ three and four wide receivers and one back in a variety of formations.

 

THE MATCHUP:  Cincinnati's offense matches up with a Syracuse defense that gave up 398 yards of total offesnse in a 30-7 loss last Saturday at Connecticut.  Heading into its final game of the season, the Orange's defense is rated 85th nationally against the pass, allowing 245.5 yards per game, and 98th in scoring defense (33.3 points per game).  The Syracuse defense is led by Joe Fields, who has 93 tackles and four interceptions and Jake Flaherty who has 91 stops, including 6.5 tackles for loss.

 

PENCHANT FOR POINTS:  Cincinnati has scored 389 points, a number never reached in the first 11 games of any season in school history.  No team has matched the 35.4 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 157.9 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.

 

MAUK HAS BEEN "NEW AND IMPROVED":  After tossing four touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 18 games, over three seasons, as Wake Forest, graduate-transfer Ben Mauk's arm has been "new and improved" at Cincinnati.  Mauk has completed 23 touchdown passes and has carded six interceptions.  Although his touchdown to interception margin was -6 at Wake Forest, Mauk's totals are +17 at UC and he is one touchdown away from UC's single-season record of +18 set by Gino Guidugli in 2004.  Over the last five games, Mauk has tossed 11 touchdowns against three interceptions.

 

THE BIONIC ARM CONTINUES COMEBACK:  Ben Mauk continues to live his comeback season at Cincinnati.  Twelve months after suffering a catastrophic arm injury, 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 149.93 and has completed 60.3 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.

 

MAUK SHOWS HIS ARM AND LEGS AGAINST MOUNTAINEERS:  Described as the heart and soul of the offense, Ben Mauk showed both his arm and his legs in Cincinnati's 28-23 loss to No. 5 West Virginia.  Mauk tallied 385 yards of total offense after completing 19-of-34 passes for 323 yards and rushing for 52 yards against the Mountaineers.  Mauk finished as UC's leading rusher for the third time in the last four games.  Always efficient, Mauk tossed two more touchdowns without any interceptions.  He also showed the leg to boot, with a 36-yard punt that pinned WVU inside its own 5 yard line.

 

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.

 

MAUK CELEBRATING A SEASON FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS:  A story loaded with adversity and change, Ben Mauk has persevered to post one of the top passing seasons in Cincinnati football lore.  Mauk is currently third in UC single-season history in passing touchdowns (23) and passing efficiency (149.93).  He is sixth in completion percentage (60.3), eighth in passing yards (2,356) and completions (176) and 10th in attempts (292).

 

ENJOYING THE RED ZONE:  Cincinnati started 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 41-of-47 red zone trips (87.2 percent) into points.

 

PLENTY OF RECEIVING TARGETS:  The Bearcats' aerial attack spreads the ball to a multitude of receivers and 16 different Bearcats have caught passes this year.  Even more generous, the offense has seen 10 different targets catch touchdowns tosses.

 

GOODMAN PASSES DAD ON SINGLE-SEASON RECEIVING LIST:  UC's top target a year ago, Dominick Goodman leads the team with 53 catches for 676 yards this season.  After finishing with 40 catches in 2006, with four catches against West Virginia, the junior passed his father, Don's top mark of 51 receptions in 1983.  Goodman's 53 receptions list him eighth and his father ninth on the single-season list.

 

GOODMAN SURPASSES 1,000 RECEIVING YARDS AND APPROACHING TOP 10:  Snagging career-highs of 11 catches for 141 yards against Louisville, Dominick Goodman eclipsed the 1,000 receiver yards mark for his career.  The owner of 105 career grabs, Goodman is tied for ninth on UC's career Top 10 list for receptions.  He has 1,291 career receiving yards and shares for sixth in the UC record book with 13 career touchdown catches.

 

BARNETT HAS BANNER DAY:  The scouting report said vertical passes and the key was the play of Marcus Barnett, who caught 10 times for 210 yards against West Virginia.  Barnett's 210 yards receiving were the fourth-most in a game by a Cincinnati receiver and the most since Jon Olinger totaled 240 yards on 13 catches against Miami (OH) in 2002.

 

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 has been a key to the Bearcats receiving corps.  After sitting out the 2006 season as a redshirt, Barnett leads the team in receiving yards (718) and touchdown catches (10).  He is also second on the team in receptions (49), but they are the most ever tallied by a first-year player at UC.

 

GIDDENS MAKES THE MOST OF STARTING NOD:  Making his first start since the season opener, Antwuan Giddens made the most of it by coming up with a 63-yard touchdown catch at USF.  After making the longest reception of his career, the senior recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for his second score of the day.

 

TIGHT END COMPETITION:  UC has three veterans vying for time at tight end.  A converted wide receiver, Earnest Jackson has 12 catches for 138 yards.  Connor Barwin has made 20 receptions for 223 yards.  Doug Jones scored his second rushing touchdown of the year at Pitt and has three receptions for 21 yards to his credit.

 

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 1,039 yards on 80 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.

 

RAMSEY REWARDED WITH STARTING ROLE:  Sophomore running back Jacob Ramsey garnered the starting nod for each of the last three games and has totaled 117 yards on 44 carries in the first extensive action of his career.  Third on the team with 353 rushing yards, Ramsey  is averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

 

BENTON LEADING THE GROUND GAME:  One of three senior running backs, Butler Benton is pacing the Bearcats' ground attack with 436 yards on 90 attempts.  Benton's 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 seven touchdowns on 43 carries this year.  Glatthaar's one-yard run at Rutgers moved him into seventh in the UC record books with the 20th rushing score of his career.

 

The defense

Scouting report:  Boasting seven returning starters on one of the BIG EAST's top defensive units, the Bearcats are allowing 17.5  points per game, to rank No. 10 in the country in scoring defense.  Leading the country with 38 takeaways, the `Cats are listed 23th against the run (116.6 ypg), and 49th in total defense (366.8 ypg).

 

THE MATCHUP:  Cincinnati's defense meets a Syracuse offense that is directed by quarterback Andrew Robinson.  Listed as the 69th-best passing team in the nation, the Orange average 211.1 yards per game through the air.  Robinson has completed 51 percent of his throws, including 10 for touchdowns.  The favorite target is Mike Williams, who has caught 51 passes for 677 yards and nine scores.  The Orange is averaging 69.8 yards per game rushing and 15.1 points per game.

 

STINGY BEARCATS: Third in the BIG EAST and 10th nationally in scoring defense, the Bearcats have allowed 182 points (17.5 ppg) this season.  The last time Cincinnati allowed fewer than 182 points in a season was the 1977 campaign.  In 1977, UC used three shutouts and gave up 121 points on its way to a 5-4-2 season.

 

Bearcat sack attack:  Cincinnati is tied for 33rd in the nation with 27 sacks this season.  A big part of that number has been the play of senior defensive end Anthony Hoke.  The team leader with nine sacks, Hoke managed three sacks in the 27-3 victory over Connecticut.  The UC defense had its streak of 21 straight games with at least one sack snapped when it came up empty against West Virginia.  The unit carded a season-high five quarterback sacks in the triumph at Miami (OH).

 

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.

 

against the ground game:  Cincinnati proved once again it is good against the top rushing offenses in the country by limiting Connecticut to 22 yards rushing on 22 carries in the 27-3 win a week ago.  UC held USF to 99 yards on 37 carries for a 2.7 yards per carry average.  Yielding 116.6 rushing yards per game, UC has allowed three opponents to surpass the century mark when Southeast Missouri State tallied 175 yards, Pittsburgh rushed for 260 and West Virginia totaled 295 rushing yards.

 

MICKENS SHOWS HIS METTLE AT USF:  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 IS AROUND THE FOOTBALL:   Two-time all-BIG EAST second-team cornerback Mike Mickens is playing like an all-America choice in 2007.  Mickens leads the team lead with six interceptions and has 10 for his career with the Bearcats.  The three-year starter kicked off  his season with two interceptions and six tackles in the victory over Southeast Missouri State.  He stepped in front of a Redhawk pass and returned the second interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the season opener.  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 71.1 of opponents' drives (27-of-38) inside its own 20 yard line to result in scores.  UC has given up 16 touchdowns on 38 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 learning his role.  Smith is tied for third in the BIG EAST 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 43rd nationally in the category.

 

Nakamura packs a punch:  The leader of the secondary, Haruki Nakamura is tops on the team lead with 77 tackles (45 solo, 32 assists).  UC's leading tackler in four games this season, Nakamura paced the squad with 10 tackles against West Virginia and six stops against Connecticut.  The senior safety finished with 11 tackles, all solos at USF.  Nakamura was named BIG EAST Player of the Week after forcing a pair of fumbles and tallying his fourth interception of the year in the win at USF.  A starter in 34 consecutive games, he paced Cincinnati with eight tackles (2 solo, 6 assists) and a forced fumble vs. Southeast Missouri State.  The Bearcats' active leader with 222 career stops, Nakamura paced the team with 76 tackles during the 2005 campaign.

 

HELLO AGAIN, Corey Smith:  Second on the squad with 71 tackles, Corey Smith continues to chase down ballcarriers from his outside linebacker spot.  A three-year starter for Cincinnati, Smith has registered 32 solo tackles and 39 assists.  Second among active Bearcats, the Salem, N.J. native has 195 career stops.

 

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 37 tackles to his credit.  The Cleveland native has 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career.  Hoke leads the squad with 12.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.  The Warren, OH product has tallied 18 career sacks.

 

hoke approaching cincinnati's Top sack marks:  A former linebacker, Anthony Hoke is making a case to join some of Cincinnati's all-time best defensive linemen.  Second in the BIG EAST Conference with nine sacks on the year, the number lists Hoke tied with Andrew Stewart for second in UC's single-season records.  He trails only Antwan Peek's 12.5 sacks in 2001 for the top spot in school history.  Hoke's 18 career sacks list him tied for fourth in program history and nine behind Peek's UC record 27 career sacks.

 

byrd UNCAGED:  Having to sit out the first game of the season, junior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd has responded with 10.5 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 kickers Jake Rogers and Brandon Yingling 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 46.5 yards on 49 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 17 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 9-of-16 on field goals and 41-of-44 on PAT kicks.  He had converted 37 consecutive PATs before missing wide left on his second try against Connecticut.

 

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 13 returns for 265 yards (20.4 yards per return) to his credit this season.  Marshwan Gilyard averaged 22.0 yards on eight kickoff returns in 2005 and has five returns for 137 yards (27.4 yards per return) this season.

 

NAKAMURA PROVIDES STEADY HANDS ON PUNT RETURNS:  Not known for owning breakaway speed, Haruki Nakamura has carded 94 yards on 13 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.