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October 17, 2013

Behind Enemy Lines

UConn travels to Cincinnati on Saturday to take on the Bearcats. Marc Givler of BearcatReport.com helps UConnReport.com break down the game, and gives us a look at one of the AAC's best teams.

UConnReport: What is the overall feeling with Cinci fans around Coach Tuberville right now?

Marc Givler: There was a major feeling of excitement heading into the season, especially after UC dismantled Purdue in the opener. Since that time, it has been realized that Purdue is just not a very good football team and UC's play has been very up and down, looking good in spurts and not so good in others. I think there is very much of a 'wait and see how things finish out' approach by the fan base at this point.

UConnReport:What kind of offense is Cinci running under the new coach? Who are the key players and their skill sets?

The Cincinnati offense will provide multiple looks but is essentially a spread attack. The zone read has become less of a part of the offense with Brendon Kay now the starter (due to the injury to Munchie Legaux) so this is primarily a spread based passing attack.

The strength of the offense is probably its depth at the skill positions. There are several receivers the Bearcats will throw to with the top two guys being Anthony McClung and Shaq Washington as well as a three-back rotation between Ralph Abernathy, Hosey Williams, and Tion Green who really emerged last week against Temple.

UConnReport: What is the strength of the Cinci defense? What is the weakness?

The Cincinnati defense has been relatively strong this year, currently 17th in the nation in points allowed per game. The linebackers set the tone with Greg Blair, Nick Temple, and Jeff Luc being a very strong unit. All three guys are among the top four tacklers on the team. Tough to point out a true weakness on the defense as the unit has been solid all year but the defensive line hasn't been overly productive in terms of getting after the passer so that is probably one area where UC could stand to improve defensively.

UConnReport: Who is the X-Factor in this game for Cinci?

The X-Factor has to be quarterback Brendon Kay. When he takes care of the football, the offense puts up big numbers. When he doesn't, things have been very ugly as they were in both the Miami (OH) and South Florida games.

UConnReport: It seems like turnover and penalties have killed this team. Any area of the team that's causing particular harm for each?

As alluded to above, since taking over as the starter this year, Kay has had two games where he threw multiple interceptions. They were upset by USF in one of those games and had to scratch and claw to beat a subpar Miami (OH) team in the other. A better attention to detail offensively would do wonders for this group.

UConnReport: Who wins and why?

I look for Cincinnati to take this one at home, especially coming off a strong overall performance against Temple that should help build confidence after the disappointing USF loss. I do think this will be closer than people think, however. Cincinnati 31 UCONN 23.

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