2012 Overall Rank: #48
# 3 Big East
Cincinnati Team Page
Cincinnati had a tremendous 2011 campaign boasting an impressive 10-3 finishing mark. They suffered back to back losses against West Virginia and Rutgers but were able to rebound to finish strong, reeling off three straight victories, including their bowl win over Vanderbilt. They are looking to use the momentum from their brilliant 2011 season to have an even better 2012.
2011 Record: (10-3 Overall, 5-2 Conference)
2011 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs Vanderbilt W(31-24)
Coach: Butch Jones (14-11 at Cincinnati, 41-24 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bajakian
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Stripling
Rushing: Munchie Legaux, QB, 241 yards
Passing: Munchie Legaux, QB, 749 yards
Receiving: Anthony McClung, WR, 683 yards
Tackles: Drew Frey, DB, 43
Sacks: Walter Stewart, LB, 6
Interceptions: Deven Drane, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, K Tony Milliano,
Key Losses: RB Isaiah Pead, QB Zach Collaros, DL Derek Wolfe
The Bearcats dominated on the defensive side of the ball a season ago, ranking second in sacks per game, first in tackles for a loss, and sixth in rushing defense in the nation. That strong defense is what propelled them to their terrific season. They are losing a few key pieces, such as Derek Wolfe, but will reload and dominate again in 2012.
On the offensive side of the football their rushing game instilled fear on defenses. They have a dual threat quarterback in Munchie Leqaux who will spearhead the attack this season with the loss of Isaiah Pead at running back. He will be difficult to replace but the Bearcats will find a way to have their offense score enough points to win with their extremely strong defense.
The Cincinnati Bearcats offense did just enough to win them games a season ago. That is not enough to have them join elite status on a national stage, or even the Big East. Although they have a strong rushing attack, their passing game leaves much to be desired. They lost Zach Collaros, so they will have an unproven quarterback at the helm, never a good sign in college football. Their already weak passing attack should feel the effects and it may take a few games for the unit to gel. Although the defense will still get takeaways, the offense will likely have more giveaways, which will negatively impact their turnover margin, something they relied on to be so successful a season ago. Cincinnati also struggled defending the pass, giving up over 260 yards through the air, although that can be partially related to their strong rushing defense. Still, the secondary needs to play better in 2012 than it did in 2011 for the Bearcats to achieve their goals.
The Bottom Line:
Cincinnati has an old school style of football, at least in philosophy. Run the ball well and shut down the run. These elements will be clear in 2012 but it will be up to the offense to determine how far the Bearcats will go this season. There will be a lot of pressure on their new signal caller and their passing attack if Cincinnati wants to compete for a Big East title and a BCS bowl game. Even if their aerial assault is not as good as it was a season ago, as long as it is efficient and protects the football, the Bearcats should be in good shape. They will be right in the thick of things in conference play, but will need a major improvement from the offensive end if they wish to be the front runners in the Big East.
Projected Bowl: Belk Bowl
2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 178.54 (36th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 207.15 (78, 7)
Total Offense: 385.69 (61, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.86 (14, 2)
Rushing Defense: 96.23 (6, 2)
Pass Defense: 261.15 (99, 7)
Total Defense: 357.38 (42, 6)
Scoring Defense: 20.79 (26, 2)
Turnover Margin: .92 (9, 1)
Sacks: 3.46 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (50, 2)