The Other Side: Bearcats want balance, takeaways
The Cincinnati Bearcats football team beat Purdue University 38-20 on Saturday and now have arguably their biggest matchup of the season ― a matchup with the No. 6 University of Houston Cougars.
After a disappointing 7-6 campaign in 2015, this will be the first test of where the Bearcats stand in the American Athletic Conference in 2016.
Cincinnati saw an improvement all-around in their second game compared to their first, as their offense committed no turnovers and their defense forced five.
This was compared to three offensive turnovers and their defense only forcing three in their week one matchup with the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“We created turnovers, which was a huge key,” UC head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “Five turnovers to no turnovers. We were in the plus five (turnover) column, which we’re going to need to be to continue to have success.”
Moving forward to their matchup against Houston, the Bearcats are not afraid of Houston’s high ranking.
“Everybody’s looking at them as a playoff team when we’re only through two games, it is almost impossible to go undefeated in major college football,” Tuberville said. “I’ve been on some great teams that did not do it but they got an offense and defense with experience, with a quarterback that’s experienced, that I feel like they feel like they that they got a run to do it.”
In their matchup in 2015, the Cougars defeated Cincinnati by a score of 33-30.
The Bearcats defense allowed Houston’s quarterback Greg Ward Jr. to rush for 124 yards in the game.
“Last year, we let Greg Ward out of the pocket a couple times and he’s going to take advantage of it, he’s that type of player,” Tuberville said. “Just watching him play the first game of the year against Oklahoma, you know you hear about Oklahoma and their defense is all that and they couldn’t tackle him.”
Despite the loss, the Bearcats saw a career performance from junior quarterback Gunner Kiel against Houston.
Kiel passed for 523 yards and four touchdowns.
This offense will look different, however, as sophomore quarterback Hayden Moore has taken over the starting job and Kiel is now third-string.
Against Purdue, Moore scored five overall touchdowns ― three passing and two rushing.
“We are all excited, Houston coming in at number 6,” Moore said. “Everybody is looking forward to the game, primetime Thursday night, we’re just going to come ready to play.”
Cincinnati should also be more balanced by using the running game more compared to last year because first-year offensive coordinator Zac Taylor came in wanting to make that a focus.
The Bearcats ran for 262 total yards against Purdue last week.
“I’m proud of the offensive line, when you rush for 200 yards against a Big 10 defensive front, that says something to me,” Tuberville said.
Cincinnati and Houston kickoff in Nippert Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
David Wysong is the sports editor at the University of Cincinnati’s The News Record.