Butch Jones did not have himself a good time in his first year as the guy after the guy, though his team actually played well enough down-to-down to win 6-7 games, get to a bowl, and make a decent first impression. But they stalled early in the year with offensive line troubles and there was some sort of fumble hex on the Bearcats because the universe is a bitch like that sometimes.
On seven occasions the Bearcats outgained their opponents in terms of both total yards and yards per play. They lost three of those games, and two of those losses were by 21 points or more. That's a pretty tough thing to do, but as you've probably guessed, the turnover margin in those games was not to Cincinnati's advantage. And that was the trouble all year long, generally--they finished even or negative in 10 of 12 games. Their defense forced 20 fumbles and recovered just six. Their offense fumbled 24 times and recovered just 10. Sixteen fumble recoveries out of a possible 44.
This year they've recovered nine fumbles out of a possible 11. That's fumble luck for you. We should all shake our fists at the football gods for this added strain on the human condition. If a fumble is generally a 50-50 proposition, why can't I just get half of them every year?! I have kids to feed! Ahem.
Cincinnati's 2010 offense was not quite the death machine I'd made it out to be before the season started, but then again, I missed the part where they were going to start a 260-pound left tackle. Even so, they recovered nicely after a slow start that saw them lose two of their first three in extremely sacky fashion. Following the loss to NC State they gained at least 6.6 yards per play throughout a four-game stretch that included three bowl teams (Oklahoma, South Florida, and Louisville).
Quarterback Zach Collaros is back for another go in 2011, and he has Isaiah Pead, who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2010, and DJ Woods, who had nearly 900 yards receiving in 2010, along for the ride. It's the second year of the Butch Jones era and that should make things a bit smoother around the edges. All together it's enough to build on what was a mediocre-but-bowl-worthy effort in 2010 and enough, potentially, to put up a lot of points on a beleaguered Wolfpack defense. ,