Tonight the Bearcats travel to Memphis to play a team that absolutely waxed them at Paul Brown Stadium last year. After the Temple and Miami (OH) games this season, I cannot quite figure out this team. Who are they? Are they the preseason contenders or the in-season pretenders?
Coming into this season the Bearcats were hyped by most local media outlets, including this one. I was certainly a believer – even hoping a 2009-like one loss season was imminent. Now, I hover between belief, atheism, and agnosticism. With this team, I find myself making the biblical pronouncement, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
If the Bearcats win tonight, it will be because of three things:
1. They don’t turn the ball over.
UC had five (5) turnovers against Temple in a losing effort, and four (4) turnovers in a barely-winning-over-a-MAC-school effort against Miami. Talent alone will not win ball games. Mistake-free teams win ball games.
2. They execute on both sides of the ball.
Everyone knows we have firepower on offense. Gunner is good. Hopefully he is well enough to play well tonight. Even if he’s not healthy, Hayden is plenty good. Our receiving corps is legit. Our running backs are solid. But will they execute?
The defense was much maligned in the preseason. In the first half against Miami, they played to that prediction. The second half, however, was different. Memphis has a prolific offense that far outpaces Miami’s. Can the Bearcats’ defense button it up tonight?
3. They care.
This team must care about winning more than they’ve cared the past few weeks. Winners are obsessed with not losing. Winners are obsessed with performing on every play. So far this year, UC has not been obsessed. I hope tonight is different.
By Brian Fox