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Posted: Monday August 16, 2010 10:57AM ; Updated: Monday August 16, 2010 10:57AM

Top 25 Team Previews

AthlonSports.com
18
Cincinnati Bearcats

Top 25 Athlon Team Previews: Cincinnati Bearcats

2009 Record: 12-1 (7-0 in Big East)
Head Coach: Butch Jones
Zach Collaros :: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
2010 Schedule
Sept. 4at Fresno State
Sept. 11Indiana State
Sept. 16at NC State
Sept. 25Oklahoma
Oct. 9Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 15at Louisville
Oct. 22South Florida
Oct. 30Syracuse
Nov. 13at West Virginia
Nov. 20Rutgers
Nov. 27at Connecticut
Dec. 4Pittsburgh
2009 Results
Sept. 7at RutgersW47-15
Sept. 12SE Missouri StateW70- 3
Sept. 19at Oregon StateW28-18
Sept. 26Fresno StateW28-20
Oct. 3at Miami (Ohio)W37-13
Oct. 15at South FloridaW34-17
Oct. 24LouisvilleW41-10
Oct. 31at SyracuseW28- 7
Nov. 7ConnecticutW47-45
Nov. 13West VirginiaW24-21
Nov. 27IllinoisW49-36
Dec. 5at PittsburghW45-44
Jan. 1Florida (Sugar Bowl)L24-51
2009 Rankings
OFFENSEPER GAMEBig EastNAT'L
Scoring38.6 ppg14
Rushing138.7 ypg569
Passing308.8 ypg18
Total447.5 ypg111
DEFENSEPER GAMEBig EastNAT'L
Scoring23.1 ppg544
Rushing143.8 ypg761
Passing230.2 ypg678
Total374.0 ypg867
TO MARGINPER GAMEBig EastNAT'L
+9+0.69313
2010 Projected Rosters
OFFENSE
WRVidal Hazelton (Sr.)O.J. Woodard (Jr.)
WRD.J. Woods (Jr.)Marcus Barnett (Sr.)
WRArmon Binns (Sr.)Jamar Howard (Sr.)
LTSam Griffin (Sr.)Sean Hooey (So.)
LGJason Kelce (Sr.)Randy Martinez (Jr.)
CEvan Davis (Jr.)Dan Sprague (Fr.)
RGAlex Hoffman (Jr.)T.J. Franklin (Jr.)
RTC.J. Cobb (Sr.)Andre Cureton (Fr.)
TEBen Guidugli (Sr.)Adrien Robinson (Jr.)
QBZach Collaros (Jr.)Chazz Anderson (Jr.)
RBIsaiah Pead (Jr.)John Goebel (Sr.)
DEFENSE
DEBrandon Mills (So.)Michael Hilty (Fr.)
DTDerek Wolfe (Jr.)Sean McClellan (Fr.)
DTJohn Hughes (Jr.)Jordan Stepp (Fr.)
DEDan Giordano (So.)Rob Trigg (Jr.)
WLBJK Schaffer (Jr.)Maalik Bomar (So.)
MLBDorian Davis (Sr.)Alex Delisi (Jr.)
SLBWalter Stewart (So.)Robby Armstrong (Jr.)
CBDominique Battle (Jr.)Chris Williams (So.)
CBCamerron Cheatham (Fr.)Reuben Johnson (So.)
SSDrew Frey (So.)Pat Lambert (So.)
FSWesley Richardson (Jr.)Quincy Quetant (Fr.)
SPECIAL TEAMS
1Jake Rogers (Sr.)KRDarrin Williams (So.)
1Patrick O'Donnell (So.)PRD.J. Woods (Jr.)
RETURNING LEADERS
Passing: Zach Collaros (1,434 yards, 10 TDs)
Rushing: Isaiah Pead (121 car, 806 yds, 9 TDs)
Receiving: Armon Binns (61 rec, 888 yds, 11 TDs)
Tackles: JK Schaffer (100, 54 solo)
Sacks: Derek Wolfe (5)
Interceptions: JK Schaffer (3 for 23 yds)
MORE FROM ATHLON
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PLAYERS TO WATCH

Zach Collaros, QB: A threat to run and pass, he should continue the tradition of solid QB play for Cincinnati.

JK Schaffer, LB: With two years of experience, he should be the leader of a defensive unit that's looking for an identity.

Isaiah Pead, RB: He could become a 1,000-yard rusher with more carries this year.

IMPORTANT LOSSES

Tony Pike, QB: He was the best quarterback in the Big East last year.

Mardy Gilyard, WR: He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.

Aaron Webster, S: He was a first-team All-Big East selection in 2009.

NUMBERS GAME

34: Quarterback Zach Collaros has won 34 straight games as a starter dating back to his junior year in high school, where he won back-to-back Ohio state titles.

OFFENSE

Cincinnati scored points quickly and in bunches under Brian Kelly, and that doesn't figure to change much under successor Butch Jones, who runs a similar spread offense and has an offense loaded with talent at his disposal.

Junior Zach Collaros will likely start at quarterback after passing for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns last year during his four-game starting stint in relief of the injured Tony Pike. He also rushed for 344 yards. Junior Isaiah Pead emerged as Cincinnati's primary running threat in 2009, gaining 806 yards and averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and could be poised for a breakout year.

The receiving corps is loaded with the return of Armon Binns and D.J. Woods, the Bearcats' second- and third-leading receivers in 2009. Although he has yet to catch a pass at Cincinnati, the most talented receiver of the group might be senior Vidal Hazelton, a transfer from USC who sat out last season. Senior Ben Guidugli, a second-team All-Big East selection, is also a receiving threat at tight end after catching 27 passes for 364 yards in 2009.

DEFENSE

Five starters return from a defense that got pushed around quite a bit during the last five games of 2009. The Bearcats have potential all-conference performers in defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, linebacker JK Schaffer and strong safety Drew Frey, but this is a young group, with only one senior listed as a starter. They're also operating under their third and fourth defensive coordinators in three years, with co-coordinators Tim Banks and John Jancek.

The emphasis during spring was on getting a pass rush from the edge, and Banks thinks he has a good pass-rusher in defensive end/linebacker Walter Stewart, a sophomore who showed flashes of brilliance last year. Another sophomore, defensive end Dan Giordano, also saw significant playing time last year in a backup role and will be counted on to make an impact this season.

SPECIALISTS

The departure of electrifying kick returner Mardy Gilyard leaves a huge void that Hazelton and reserve tailback Darrin Williams will attempt to fill. Senior Jake Rogers handled both kicking and punting duties last season and, after two years of inconsistency, matured into a fairly reliable placekicker and a competent punter. There's a good chance he'll surrender the punting duties this year to sophomore Patrick O'Donnell, who was recruited to replace All-American Kevin Huber but wasn't ready in 2009. Woods is back to return punts.

FINAL ANALYSIS

It's only natural for the rest of the Big East to assume that with the departure of Kelly, Pike and Gilyard, Cincinnati will not be the offensive force it has been the last two years. Those doubters could be in for a surprise when they see Collaros throwing to Binns and Hazelton and running the ball when the opportunity arises.

The biggest question mark surrounding this team is its defense. The Bearcats couldn't stop anybody near the end of last season, putting a lot of pressure on the offense to score almost every time it had the ball. The '09 Cats were fun to watch, and their approach worked well enough to result in a second straight Big East title, but it's tough to continue to win that way against good teams. If the defense can muster some resistance, this could be another formidable Cincinnati team that could challenge for the Big East crown. If not, Cincy will finish in the middle of the pack.

 
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