Scott King of Bearcatsblog.com was kind enough to answer some questions about Cincinnati for us. So for those of you, like myself admittedly, that don’t know a whole lot about Cincinnati, here is your chance to do a little light reading on the Bearcats.
We get into the real nitty-gritty of this game, including a look at the Cincinnati offense, their season so far, special teams play, and which team has the better named player. It’s all fascinating stuff so make sure to give it a read, and give Scott a follow on Twitter.
Q: Cincinnati football runs a spread offense, and it seems to be predicated on the success of quarterback Munchie Legaux. What does Legaux bring to the table in the scheme of Cincinnati’s offense?
A: Legaux is a multi-dimensional threat. He’s one the better runners on the team. He busted off a long run against Pittsburgh and was the leading rusher. He has a big arm. The problem with his big arm is that it hasn’t entirely been accurate. Legaux has shown that he can make a lot of throws and he can take off when the opportunity shows itself. Munchie can get the offense going when he is playing well and with speed. When things grind down, he can lose rhythm and get a little wild.
Q: Pittsburgh played Cincinnati on a short week, and the Bearcats got extended time before the Delaware State game. The Bearcats handled Pittsburgh, but struggled against Delaware State. Which game should we read into more, and which team is more like the Cincinnati team that Virginia Tech will see on Saturday?
A: If I knew the answer to that, I would place a large wager on the game. The Bearcats showed flashes of the Pitt performance against Delaware St, but shot themselves in the foot. The running game has been very impressive in both games. Munchie Legaux was solid against Pitt and very shaky against Delaware St. It’s very hard to get a read on how things will go with an inexperienced quarterback.
Another thing you might have noticed, is that the Bearcats have only played 2 games. That’s a big cause for concern as they play a team that has been in action 4 times. It helps UC with injuries, but it hurts because you don’t have a lot to look at on film. Butch Jones sounded worried about that in his press conference on Tuesday.
Q: George Winn seems to be the lynchpin of the Cincinnati running game. What makes Winn so effective against opposing defenses?
A: Winn is a bigger back, which hides his deceptive explosion. He is a straight ahead runner who can power over defensive backs that get in his way. He has enough speed to get to the second level. Winn has been a very pleasant surprise in the backfield. A large part of this is because the offensive line has been very dominant and given Winn big holes to run though. Especially up the middle. Winn isn’t an east-west runner, he’s north-south.
Q: Greg Blair, the senior linebacker, is really having a solid season so far. He has 17 total tackles and an interception through only two games. How has Blair found success so far this season, and what do you think his role will be Saturday against the Hokies?
A: Blair has taken over the spot of JK Schaffer, who was the leading tackler for the Bearcats the past couple of seasons, and he’s played at the high level that Schaffer did. Part of it is the scheme on defense, which allows Blair to fly around the field. That’s taking nothing away from Blair, who has been the head turner on the defensive side of the ball. He has really impressed with his pass coverage. His INT came in the end zone against Pitt. He had a chance at an INT on one of the first plays of that game as well. He’s going to be called upon to make a lot of plays Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one keeping an eye on Logan Thomas.
Q: In terms of special teams, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum right now, especially in the punt return game. Kyshoen Jarrett for Virginia Tech leads the NCAA in punt return average while Cincinnati as a team ranks 98th in the FBS level. How big do you think special teams will be on Saturday?
A: To me, it’s the key of the game. I don’t expect offensive fireworks, although I do think Cincinnati will score on their first drive, so special teams are incredibly important. The punt return game at Cincinnati has been a trainwreck for the last 3 seasons (counting this one). No one has stepped up to fill the shoes of Mardy Gilyard. Anthony McClung, one of the starting receivers, is the punt returner this season. He had a nice return against Delaware St, but that’s been about it. As long as UC doesn’t fumble the return, I’m happy.
I’m very worried about Virginia Tech making big plays on special teams. I would not be surprised if the Hokies blocked a punt.
Q: Admittedly I don’t know much about how Cincinnati fans travel to road, erm…”home” games. What do you think the turnout will be like from the Cincinnati faithful?
A: I think it will be somewhere from 10,000-13,000. I hope that a lot of Cincinnati fans treat this like a bowl game and show up in force. It’s about 9 hours from Cincinnati to DC. In the end, it’ll be around 5-1 Va Tech fans to Cincy fans.
Q: What do you think about the opening Vegas line of Virginia Tech -7 points? I wouldn’t take the bet personally, but what are your thoughts?
A: 7 seems about right. On a neutral field I think Tech would be 3-4 point favorites. When you add in the home field 3, it all makes sense. A couple of fans told me they thought it was a little high. But you have a top 25 team playing at home against a bit of a mystery team, so it’s not a shock.
Q: Who has the more unique name – Munchie Legaux or George George? Which team wins that head to head matchup?
A: George George is a quality name, but Munchie’s name is Munchie. I can’t describe how fun it is to have a quarterback named Munchie. For the team head to head, I might give to Tech because you could argue that Munchie Legaux isn’t even the best name on UC. They have Leviticus Payne and Silverberry Mouhon. If you are a 3 star recruit, give yourself a fancy name and Butch Jones will find you and he will recruit you.
Q: If you had to make a prediction, what would it be?
A: As someone with a Cincinnati blog who is a Cincinnati fan, I’ve talked myself into Cincinnati winning. We both think the game is going to be low scoring. I’m thinking that Cincinnati can make a play on defense to either ice the game, or to win it. I’m going with Cincinnati 20-14.
Once again, thanks to Scott for taking some of his time answering some of our questions. We certainly wish him the best, but we really hope the Hokies lay a good ole’ fashioned beatdown on the Bearcats this Saturday. I’m thinking a 2009-esque performance? Yes – let’s do that again.