March 1, 2012
Coach Jones Post Practice
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati football team opened up spring practice Thursday, working out for just over two hours inside the Sheakley Athletics Center.
Looking back at 2011, UC was the most improved NCAA FBS AQ team in 2011, finishing with a 10-3 mark and a Top-25 final ranking, as well as returning to postseason play, knocking of SEC foe Vanderbilt in the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the program’s first bowl win over a BCS opponent.
The Bearcats were one of the most improved defenses in the nation in 2011, leading the NCAA FBS in tackles for a loss (8.62), ranking second in sacks (3.46), sixth in rushing defense (96.23) and 20th in scoring defense (20.31). UC led the BIG EAST and ranked ninth nationally in turnover margin (0.92) while the Bearcats' 33 turnovers gained was tied for fourth nationally.
Offensively, UC averaged 385 yards per game, ranking No. 2 in the BIG EAST in rushing offense (178.5 ypg) and scored an average of 33.3 points per game. Running back Isaiah Pead, the 2011 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, closed out his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the first UC back to accomplish that feat in nearly 25 years.
UC has to replace seven offensive starters and four defensive starters and will use all 15 spring practices to take the first steps in preparation for the 2012 season.
The Bearcats will also have the services of nine early enrollees, all high school seniors who enrolled at UC in January. The first-year student-athletes, Kevin Brown (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central), Deionte Buckley (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), Jonathan Burt (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), Errol Clarke (Miami, Fla,/Central), Bennie Coney (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), DeShawn Dowdy (Akron, Ohio/North), Marcus Foster (Troy, Ohio/Troy), Trenton Norvell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Seabreeze) and Josh Posley (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central), have been participating in the Bearcats’ off-season workout program in preparation for the spring season.
The close of practice seemed like a reunion of sorts as a number of the Bearcats 2011 graduates, including Zach Collaros
, J.K. Schaffer
, Derek Wolfe
and D.J. Woods
arrvied back in town ahead of UC's pro timing day Friday.
The 2011 seniors will start their NFL career auditions in front of a crowd of NFL scouts, coaches and front office staff. Stay tuned to GoBEARCATS.com for full coverage Friday.
The Bearcats will practice through March 10 before taking two weeks off for finals and spring break. UC returns to the practice field on April 3 before the close of spring practice with Bearcat Bowl VI on April 14 inside Nippert Stadium.