Going into half-time the Bearcats mounted a comeback, making the score 30 – 21. Sure the game was against the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes, in front of 108,362 roaring fans, facing a team coached by the one and only Urban Meyer, but the Bearcats were on their way to a classic underdog comeback behind the Golden Arm of Gunner Kiel, right? Unfortunately, not.
Now before I start to discuss the bad and the ugly, I do want to discuss the positive here. Gunner Kiel threw for 354 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Bearcats can compete. Going into the Horse Shoe against a team comprised of countless 4 and 5-star recruits is not an easy task, and for nearly three quarters the Bearcats held their own. It was not until a terrible offensive pass interference call against Johnny Holton that the game started to unravel, and get out of hand.
The Buckeyes accumulated 45 first downs (no, that’s not a typo, and yes, it is a school record), 710 total yards, half a century worth of points, and hung onto the ball for 41 minutes. Clearly, the Bearcats defense needs fixed, and right away. I do not believe this is a personnel problem. The defense has several star athletes, including the likes of Silverberry Mouhon and Jeff Luc, the same 256 pound Jeff Luc that was once touted as the #1 linebacker coming out of high school (and yes, he snugly wears #1). Instead, the problem lies with the defensive coordinator, coaching staff, and the general lack of scheming. In fact, Toledo and Miami had already exploited these issues, but did not have the offensive firepower to outpace the Bearcats passing attack.
While the Bearcats offense is just a blast to watch, the rapid pace of the Gunner Kiel attack may further inhibit the team’s total production. In recent history under Brian Kelly, Butch Jones, and now Tubbs, the Bearcats offense scores at a lightning fast pace. This leaves the defense on the field for stretches at a time, and at risk for giving up plenty of points. Without an opportunistic defense feasting for turnovers this is indeed a potential recipe for disaster.
We should certainly be looking forward to the remainder of games this season, including another opportunity to play the historical powerhouse Miami Hurricanes. We can only hope the defensive holes are filled or at least patched. The prolific offense is paced to break multiple records help by the Tony Pike/Mardy Gilyard tag team. However, to win games, the defense has to get its act together. This one is on you Hank Hughes.
As a final note, November 13th is shaping up to be a very important date. The East Carolina Pirates march into Paul Brown Stadium. While this game may not have been flagged during the offseason, the Pirates have handily beat North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and competed well against the South Carolina Gamecocks. I still have hopes the Bearcats can at least go 10 – 2 and win the AAC. However, after witnessing the OSU game, no games should be taken for granted moving forward.
Guest Contributor: Andrew Smith