The name may not be stellar, but the folks over at FedEx Field sure hope the game between Cincinnati and Virginia Tech will be. The Hokies are scheduled to meet the Bearcats of Cinci on September 29 in what will probably be Virginia Tech’s most important (and difficult) out of conference game of the season.
Looking over Cincinnati’s roster, there appears to be a hole at quarterback coming into the season. After doing some quick research, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones has said that there will be an open quarterback competition during the summer between Munchie Legaux (awesome name, right?) and senior Brendan Kay. It should be noted that Munchie Legaux started four games last season after starting quarterback Zach Collaros went down with an ankle injury. Legaux won three of his four starts towards the end of the season.
Cincinnati also loses their two leading rushers from last season – running back Isaiah Pead and quarterback Zach Collaros. Not only was Isaiah Pead the 2011-12 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, but Cincinnati also has to replace two of their best linemen from last season. It’s likely that George Winn, who had 40 rushes for 219 yards last season, will be taking the carries for Cincinnati this season.
The good news for the Bearcats offensively is the fact that Cincinnati returns their two top receivers from last season, Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins.
On defense, Cincinnati was probably the most improved team in 2011. The Bearcats led the FBS in tackles for loss with 8.62 per game and finished second in sacks with 46 last season. The Bearcats also finished tied for fourth last season in turnovers gained with 33. It should be noted that 11 of Cincinnati’s turnovers gained came from two games against Akron and Austin Peay.
The Bearcats didn’t lose a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball during the off-season so they should still be pretty formidable once game day rolls around. They should be primed and ready after opening the season against Pittsburgh and then with cupcake FCS team Delaware State.
If Cincinnati’s defense can manage to get to Logan Thomas behind a mostly new offensive line we could see an interesting game. However, if Thomas and the Hokies offense are able to get in a groove early and move the ball, Cincinnati’s new offense could find themselves in some trouble against an extremely experienced and lethal Virginia Tech defense.
I’m not a betting man, but if I had to put my money on a winner it would have to be for Virginia Tech. Having one of the best quarterbacks in the country and one of the best defenses in the country usually puts a team in a very good position to win big games, and that’s exactly what I expect out of this group of players for the Hokies.