#33 Cincinnati Football 2014 Preview

Cincinnati Bearcats

Overall Rank: #33
#2 American

Cincinnati Team Page
#33 Cincinnati Football 2014 PreviewBuy Cincinnati Football Tickets

Cincinnati bookended their six game American Athletic Conference winning streak with losses to South Florida and Louisville and ended up having to settle for a trip to the Belk Bowl, where they lost to North Carolina 39-17. With the Cardinals now off in the ACC, the Bearcats will be among the AAC favorites on a consistent basis.

2013 Record: 9-4. 6-2
2013 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. North Carolina (L 17-39)
Coach: Tommy Tuberville (9-4 at Cincinnati, 139-81 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eddie Gran
Defensive Coordinator: Hank Hughes, Robert Prunty

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Hosey Williams, RB, 655 yards
Passing: Munchie Legaux, QB, 382 yards
Receiving: Shaq Washington, WR, 783 yards
Tackles: Nick Temple, LB, 80
Sacks: Silverberry Mouhon, DE, 9.5
Interceptions: Zach Edwards, S, 2; Howard Wilder, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Ralph David Abernathy, RB Tion Green, WR Chris Moore, WR Mekale McKay, WR Max Morrison, OL Eric Lefeld, CB Adrian Witty, LB Jeff Luc, LB Nick Temple

Key Losses: QB Brendon Kay, WR Anthony McClung, TE Blake Annen, OL Sam Longo, OL Austen Bujnoch, LB Greg Blair, S Arryn Chenault, CB Devin Drane, DL Jordan Stepp

Even though quarterback Brendon Kay is gone after throwing for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns, the Cincinnati offense is loaded with talent. Replacing Kay will be Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel. He has all the tools to be a great quarterback who can get the ball down field and scramble around as needed. There is a lot of hype around Kiel and he deserves most of it. The only thing stopping him from being one of the best quarterbacks in the conference is his lack of experience. Shaq Washington, Chris Moore, Mekale McKay, Ralph David Abernathy and Max Morrison are all experienced receivers who will make Kiel’s inexperience less likely to be an issue. Washington was the top pass catcher in 2013 with 78 receptions for 783 yards. Moore added 45 catches for 645 yards and nine touchdowns. McKay will be an interesting player to watch this season. The 6-6 receiver caught just 16 passes, but seven of them ended up in the end zone. At running back Hosey Williams and Tion Green return to keep Cincinnati as the top rushing team in the AAC. With left tackle Eric Lefeld back to lead a quality line, this is an offense that will have time to operate.

The defense played very well last season, but they do need to replace leader Greg Blair and a few other key contributors. Northwestern transfer Eric Wilson will join seniors Jeff Luc and Nick Temple to keep the linebackers strong. End Silverberry Mouhon tallied 9.5 sacks as a sophomore and is prepared for another big year. However, the middle of the defensive front four lacks experience and new coordinators Hank Hughes and Robert Prunty hope that junior college transfer Hakeem Allonce can help fill the gap. The secondary has an emerging leader in sophomore Zach Edwards, who totaled 73 tackles and two interceptions as a freshman. Senior corners Adrian Witty and Howard Wilder were both part-time starters in 2013 and are more than capable defensive backs. By choice, Coach Tommy Tubberville brought in new coaches to revitalize a defense that was quite impressive last year and it may take a little time for all of those new wrinkles to come together.

The Bottom Line:
With trips to Ohio State and Miami, the non-conference slate will likely include a couple losses, but the schedule for the AAC is extremely friendly. The Bearkats avoid UCF and host other top title contenders East Carolina and Houston. There may not be a conference game where this team is the underdog. As long as Kiel lives up to at least some of his potential, Cincinnati will be competing for an AAC championship and the automatic berth to one of the big bowls among the “Group of Five” conferences.

Projected Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 168.5 (66th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 303.6 (18, 3)
Total Offense: 472.1 (23, 1)
Scoring Offense: 32.1 (47, 4)
Rushing Defense: 104.5 (6, 3)
Pass Defense: 211.2 (29, 3)
Total Defense: 315.6 (9, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.0 (14, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.54 (102, 7)
Sacks: 2.69 (24, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (23, 1)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#28 Eric Lefeld


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