2014 Cincinnati Bearcats Team Preview
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville
2013 Record: 9-4 overall, 6-2 American Athletic Conference
2013 Bowl Result: Lost to North Carolina 39-17 in the Belk Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 300/1
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Last season, the Cincinnati Bearcats started off the season 3-2 but then won six straight games before an overtime loss to Louisville. It was the first season under new coach Tommy Tuberville, and it ended with a 39-17 loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl.
Thirteen starters are back for the Bearcats. With the departure of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten, Cincinnati should contend for the American Athletic Conference Championship along with Central Florida. The conference added East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane this year.
Cincinnati averaged 304 yards per game passing last year which was in the top 20 nationally. The rushing game averaged 169 yards per game. The Bearcats scored 32 points a game. Seven starters are back for coordinator Eddie Gran.
Gunner Kiel originally committed to Indiana as a quarterback but eventually changed his mind and went to Notre Dame. He transferred to Cincinnati and will have three years of eligibility left after sitting out last season. He will compete with Jarred Evans for the quarterback spot. Munchie Legaux was granted an extra year of eligibility after a horrific knee injury last year. Brendon Kay, last year’s starter threw for 3,302 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and also rushed for six touchdowns. He has graduated and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The top three rushers are back for Cincinnati. Hosey Williams had 115 carries for 655 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ralph Abernathy had 132 carries for 518 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 24 catches for 177 yards. Tion Green had 91 carries for 412 yards and 7 touchdowns. They do have to replace fullback Jordan Luallen who had three rushing touchdowns and 47 carries.
Leading receiver Anthony McClung is now with the Houston Texans. He had 72 catches for 939 yards and 5 touchdowns. Shaq Washington is back though and had 78 catches for 783 yards but just one touchdown. Chris Moore had 45 catches for 645 yards and 9 touchdowns and also returns. JUCO transfer Casey Gladney will also get a lot of targets.
The offensive line returns 3 starters including first team All-AAC left tackle Eric Lefeld. Center Deyshawn Bond is also back and Parker Ehinger moves from right tackle to right guard.
In 2013, the Cincinnati defense allowed only 316 yards per game which was #9 nationally. The Bearcats allowed only 21 points a game, which was #14 nationally. Still, Tuberville fired defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, citing the need to have a coordinator with more regional recruiting ties. Tuberville hired former Connecticut coordinator Hank Hughes for the job. Six starters are back for Hughes on defense.
Defensive end Silverberry Mouhan had 9.5 sacks last season and returns to anchor the line. The line must replace defensive tackle Jordan Stepp who was All-AAC.
The linebackers should be a strong unit with Northwestern transfer Eric Wilson joining returning starters Nick Temple and Jeff Luc. The Bearcats do lose All-AAC Greg Blair from the unit though. Kevin Mouhan a true freshman is a highly rated recruit.
Cornerback Howard Wilder returns to headline the secondary. The secondary must replace yet another All-AAC performer in corner Deven Drane.
Senior kicker Tony Miliano struggled last year making only 7 of 17 field goals last year after converting 34 of 47 in his first two seasons. Punter John Lloyd is also back but the Bearcats only averaged 33 yards in net punting. The return game wasn’t great either. Shaq Washington and Ralph Abernathy will likely handle returns.
Outlook / Schedule
Cincinnati doesn’t have to leave the state of Ohio for their first three games as they host Toledo, Miami-(OH) and Memphis sandwiched around a tough trip to Ohio State. They also travel to Miami-(FL) in non-conference action. In the AAC, Cincinnati travels to SMU, Tulane, Connecticut and Temple. The Bearcats also host South Florida, East Carolina and Houston. Even if they lose at Ohio State and Miami-(FL) the toughest games in conference are against East Carolina and Houston, and those teams come to Cincinnati. The Bearcats avoid Central Florida, and 9 or even 10 wins seems very likely.
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