Hustle Belt: Gunner Kiel had a successful day passing against Temple but threw four interceptions. What was giving him problems against the Owls?
Down The Drive: First and foremost, Temple's defense is a very talented defense. They know how to bring pressure and do a lot of complicated things with their blitz packages and coverage. Some throws weren't exactly advisable throws, but the Temple defense and their ability to disguise their coverage schemes certainly complicated things. Two of the four interceptions were off the hands of receivers and were caught on the tip by a very good player in Temple's Tyler Matakevich and another was attributed to an intended receiver breaking in the wrong direction.
Tuberville said in one of his press conferences that Kiel "played good most of the time" considering they had to play catch-up in the second half and force things a bit, but "most of time" just wasn't good enough for a close game against a good opponent like Temple. This was especially true considering the mistakes that the Bearcats were making in special teams and as a team in the third quarter when Temple really broke the game open, scoring 21 points.
The quality and talent of the Temple defense was a stiff challenge for the offense as a whole, and while Kiel was able to move the ball, the pressure Temple put on the offense as a whole magnified mistakes that otherwise may have not have turned into picks.
Is the run defense giving up 200+ yards on the ground Saturday a cause for concern?
Yes and no. I think anytime you give up big yardage on the ground, you should be a little concerned, look back at the game tape and get it figured out. That said, Temple's rushing total came mostly over just over a quarter of play. Jahad Thomas for Temple is a very talented running back on a team that uses him to trigger their offense. At the end of the first half, he broke a couple big runs and then he broke a 56-yarder for a touchdown in the third quarter. That right there accounts for a good chunk of that yardage. While I think the rushing stats give reason to give the rush defense a closer look, Temple didn't exactly gash the Bearcats throughout the entire game and those stats were a little inflated by big plays and gameflow. They had those nice runs to close the first half, had the huge one in the third quarter and then essentially killed clock with the running game in the fourth. For me personally, I need to see if another team can replicate that sort of performance before I really get too concerned, but the defense does need to cut out those big runs moving forward.
What are things like on the injury front for the Bearcats?
Not really any injuries worth mentioning. There are sure to be some bumps and bruises throughout the roster, but I haven't heard of anything too significant on the injury front.
What kind of problems does Tuberville's offense present to a defense?
Cincinnati wants to establish the run early, which the Bearcats do well with Williams, Green and Boone. The offensive line is talented and while each back offers slightly different skill sets, there isn't anything to key on. They all have, to varying degrees, dynamic speed, can catch out of the backfield and run with great power. They can rotate those guys out and keep them fresh, which puts pressure on the defense.
While the run game is a vocal point, Tuberville's team this season is even more talented in the passing game. The offensive line held Temple to one sack last week after the Owls racked up 10 against Penn State in Week 1. They looked solid protecting Kiel. Kiel's name has been thrown around as a potential high NFL draft pick. He also has six senior wide receivers atop the depth chart who would all start at a number of schools across the country. Shaq Washington, Chris Moore, Mekale McKay make a tremendously talented trio who can win one-on-one matchups on the outside, but there isn't much of a drop-off to the rest of the receivers (Max Morrison, Johnny Holton, Alex Chishum) who are talented enough to challenge defenses themselves. While the Cincinnati passing attack is still seeking some consistency and some more big plays, the talent alone is enough to create some problems for defenses.
What does UC need to do to get out of Oxford with a win and what would 10 wins in a row over Miami mean to the program?
Cincinnati needs to play focused and mistake free. The talent is there to win their 10th in a row over the RedHawks, but if they make mistakes or commit turnovers, Cincinnati could find themselves on the wrong side of momentum going into the later parts of the game. Over the first two games of the season, the Bearcats struggled on special teams (had a punt blocked in Week 1 and an 100-yard kickoff return in Week 2) and last week the defense and offense had their lapses. If they can establish the run and create balance offensively, they have so many weapons that they will put up some points. The Cincinnati defense also has the talent to limit opposing offenses, if they just focus and play smart football, again, free of the lapses that they had during the third quarter against Temple. If Cincinnati can play smart, create balance offensively and avoid the mistakes that plagued them last week on all three units, Cincinnati should come out with a comfortable win.
I think 10 wins in a row would mean a lot to the program. Even though there are those who feel the series has grown a little stale due to the recent one-sidedness of the rivalry, Cincinnati is fired up for this game and is looking to extend their winning streak over the RedHawks. Many assume this is a gimme for the Bearcats, but the team understands that this rivalry isn't that simple. For the past two seasons, the games have been much closer than anyone expected and that is a tribute to the intensity of the rivalry for these players. Knowing that, another win in this series would mean a lot to the players, fans and the rest of the program as a whole.