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For this week's Q & A, we were able to talk with Cincinnati's official SB Nation blog, Down The Drive. Manager Matt Opper joins us in this week's Q & A session to discuss the game, our shared dislike of West Virginia (or maybe not so much) and make our predictions for this week's game. My part of the Q & A can also be found here. There's also plenty of pre-game coverage on their site that you won't want to miss. I'll link those articles in my Game Thread Saturday morning. So what are you waiting for? Don't hesitate like Sean Glennon, jump right in.
During the Q & A, I refer to myself as CM (ChicagoMaroon) and to Matt as DTD (for Down The Drive). Enjoy!
CM: Well the first thing I obviously have to ask about is the maddening sports triangle that could occur in this one. Why did Cincy beat Pitt so handily? Why did Pitt beat the crap out of us? And as Brian McCann once said to David Wright in the '06 All-Star Game, "Are you really that good?"
DTD: To paraphrase the immortal words of Rick James, College Football is a hell of a drug. Its situations like this one that make playing "College Football Transitive Property" so fun, and yet so utterly without meaning. Weird things happen every week, though Pitt's turnaround from week two to week three is unlike anything I have seem, or more accurately can remember seeing.
CM: The Pitt game aside, you guys also played Delaware State? How come Cincy struggled so much in that one? Was the Pitt game the fluke or was this one?
DTD: It's hard to say. The Bearcats are still a very young team, and there are a ton of guys in new roles dealing with the emotional roller coaster from such an emphatic, high against Pitt there was down to be a letdown of some sort. The biggest culprit was a general lack of focus, on both sides of the ball, that reared its ugly head time and again in that game. As for which game is the fluke and which one is the real UC I have no idea. They are such divergent points on the continuum of performance. Its hard to imagine this team playing a better all around game than the one against Pitt. At the same time the Delaware State game has to be the low point. True equilibrium is somewhere in between. My guess is closer to the Pitt performance, but I am an optimist for some reason.
CM: In an interview I saw on Monday, Butch Jones alluded to the strange nature of Cincinnati's schedule so far (two bye games to open the season). Was the schedule supposed to be set up that way, or did a team back out/a date change, or what?
DTD: Having two conference teams leave, one of them before even bothering to play a league game, has a tendency to mess up the schedule. The Bearcats tried to get a more rational, normal schedule, but couldn't get any takers without going on the road. AD Whit Babcock wanted 7 home games, and he got it. The price was buying two games against FCS schools, DSU and Fordham, and closing with 10 straight weeks of play.
CM: Jones also expressed mixed feelings about moving the game to Washington D.C. Obviously it's never fun to lose a home game, but how do you feel about the game being moved to a "neutral" site?
DTD: I don't like it in the least. But the price is right. UC will clear more than 3 million dollars for the guarantee. That makes it a much easier pill to swallow. The Cincinnati Athletic Department is drowning in dept at the moment and can't look a gift horse in the mouth. The fact that the decision was made before any of the relevant parties on the UC side were in their current positions, but that's the business.
CM: I'm guessing you're not a fan of the upheaval in the Big East, and as a fairly new face, you probably don't have too much attachment to the conference either. If the ACC were looking for a 15th and a half school (let's just call it 16), would you be interested in Cincy being it? If not, why? If so, make your pitch on behalf of the school.
DTD: Yes, obviously. Given the option to move up, you take it. The case for UC is simple. Cincinnati is the 34th largest TV market in the country, and the Bearcats control it more than any other school. UC has a historically good Basketball program, and it close to getting back to the early 2000's level. The Football program might not be a name brand, or boast a ton of cache. The Bearcats have quietly built a very sound Football program winning 55 games over the last five seasons with two BCS bowl appearances and three conference championships. But everyone knows its not enough.
CM: Wanna say any mean and nasty things about Cincy's former Big East conference foe, the West Virginia Mountaineers? Let it rip. This is your sanctuary for that.
DTD: God, I feel like I am in England being asked for my opinion for the French, but all I can really say is that I like their wine. That's not to say that there aren't loathsome West Virginians, there are, and they usually travel. But hell if they aren't fun for a party. And yes, this positive opinion has more to do with one great tailgate, and game that silenced Milan Pushkar Stadium, but still.
CM: Who are some players for the Bearcats the Hokies should watch out for?
DTD: Ralph David Abernathy IV on offense. From what I have seen of the Hokies I feel that one area where the Hokies can be exploited defensively is isolating Bruce Taylor and Jack Tyler in coverage against Abernathy who is the fastest Bearcat by far, possibly the fastest since Mardy Gilyard. He can be really explosive in space, I think he is the X factor in this game for the Bearcats offense. Defensively it is Walter Stewart. He is the Bearcats best defensive player, he can play multiple spots on defense, and the coaches move him around a lot. Walt has the ability to destroy and offenses with his versatility, UC needs a big game from him
CM: What are your biggest fears about this one? Any specific players? Or none?
DTD: The biggest fear is a repeat of the Delaware State game. A lack of focus and energy would be a death knell for any hopes for a marquee win this season. Logan Thomas is the obvious one to fear. When he reaches his potential he is a terrifying weapon. If he does that on Saturday I don't know if the Bearcats can respond.
CM: Okay, now it's time to put on the big boy pants. What will the score be and why?
Thanks to Matt Opper and Down The Drive for taking the time to do this Q & A with us. We really appreciate it. Make sure to check out all of their coverage leading up to this one, all of which I will link in Saturday's Game Thread.