Cincinnati piled up 195 yards on 28 plays en route to a 14-0 first quarter lead at Fresno State in week one. At seven yards per snap, they'd picked up exactly where they left off in 2009. And so the questions about new head coach Butch Jones, now full-time starter Zach Collaros... nothing to worry about, right?
But the Bearcats lost yards on each of their next four drives as Fresno State assumed complete control of the line of scrimmage. Collaros was sacked eight times, leading to all sorts of OL-related hand wringing, and Cincinnati finished the game with 234 total yards. I haven't seen the Death Machine, at least the one I thought I knew, since that first quarter.
Collaros played well enough against I-AA Indiana State on Saturday, but the home runs still weren't there, and anyway the Bearcats preferred to take care of the Sycamores by pounding them on the ground. What, they're a run-first outfit now? Not really, no, but there's a hesitancy in Cincinnati these days. Lackluster pass protection aside, Collaros has had his own issues, at times holding onto the ball too long and/or forcing some throws.
It's early and Jones is still evaluating his options, so it remains to be seen just what sort of identity they eventually make for themselves. The post-Fresno concerns were such that Jones pondered significant changes up front. (He only made one.) And so the Bearcats head into Thursday in a predicament similar to NC State's, not entirely sure what they're going to get from an offense that was supposed to be a point factory.