Below, Scott from Bearcats Blog answers a few of my questions.
1.) To this point both NC State and Cincinnati have had offensive line issues that have hampered what are supposed to be a couple of very good offenses. Do you feel any better about the Bearcats' OL situation after game two? Did Butch Jones make any changes to the line? How do you expect that group to develop as the year progresses?
To be frank, no I don't feel any better about the Bearcats OL after game two. They looked better than they did against Fresno St, but Indiana St blows and it's hard to get a read on a situation like that when the competition is so weak. There were rumored changes, but I didn't notice anything different. I hope some of the group's problems were just first game adjustments, but it appears some parts of the scheme don't fit the players.
2.) Zach Collaros played brilliantly in relief last season but it sounds like he's off to a slow start in 2010. The aforementioned struggles are part of the problem, I'm sure, but based on what I've read it sounds like he's been holding the ball too long on occasion, and forcing some throws. How would you grade his play so far? Any worries here?
I would give Collaros a B- so far. Some of the sacks he's taken have been on him holding the ball too long. He doesn't seem as comfortable taking the keys to the car as he did last season. I don't know if he's feeling the pressure of being the man now, or if he was playing even more insanely out of his mind than he was last season. Right now, most people think he will bounce back. Thursday night is going to either quell worries, or fuel them.
3.) How's the defensive shift from the 3-4 to the 4-3 going? What have you seen from the defense that you've liked? On what do they need to improve?
The shift was gone well enough so far. The defense has been very aggressive in the first two games. LB Maalik Bomar has been a find. The run defense has been very good so far. The corner backs have been pretty assertive in stopping the run, especially Dominique Battle. They need to improve the pass defense. The line doesn't pressure very well outside of Derek Wolfe. There were a couple of costly coverage breakdowns against Fresno State. Indiana St picked them a part a little bit, but nothing too major.
4.) Granted it's very early, but in terms of how the team looks on the field, or just in general, how are things different now that Butch Jones is in charge?
It seems to have been a smooth transition. The only real noticeable thing on the field has been the 4-3 and the fact UC runs a lot of screens now. One thing that we heard from the UC camp all summer was family. So I guess they are like a family now. Plus, they were terrible looking adidas shirts on the sidelines.
5.) Talk about a few keys to a Cincinnati victory on Thursday.
1, Running the ball. UC ran the ball poorly against Fresno, and mainly ran all over ISU, but that doesn't count. I think they need to mix up the offense better.
2, Contain the NC St run. NC St ran the ball 40 times as you all know, and I have a feeling they are going to try and ram the ball down the throats of the Bearcats.
3, Playing the full 60. The Bearcats no showed the first half of the ISU game, and seemingly checked out after being up 14-0 against Fresno. I think this is going to be a tough road contest, and the Bearcats need their most consistent effort yet.
4, Score points.