Who have been the keys on both sides of the ball that have propelled the Bearcats to an 8-1 start?
J.T.: On offense it has been the play of redshirt freshman Desmond Ridder and sophomore running back Mike Warren. Ridder was a pure wildcard coming into the season because he was in battle with senior Hayden Moore, but his dual threat ability with his strong arm have been a pleasant surprise. Warren is one of the best in the country and is just a pure playmaker.
On defense it is tough because the whole defense is great honestly with all the speed they possess it just makes it tough on the opposing offense, but if I had to highlight one person I’d say defensive tackle Cortez Broughton he’s been a monster all year.
What are the main differences between the Bearcat squad USF manhandled 33-3 in Tampa last season and this rejuvenated number 25 (AP Poll) 2018 team the Bulls face Saturday?
J.T.: Man, I don’t know if I have enough time to go into detail about all the difference, but the main thing is the defense is faster in all levels and they tackle. On offense they are a threat because the offensive line is physical last season the line wasn’t as stout as a whole.
You can just see players really have love for each other and want to win. The Fickell effect.
Junior linebacker Perry Young has been a playmaking machine for the Bearcats this season, what does losing Perry to an unfortunate ACL injury do to the unit currently ranked fifth nationally in total defense? And who will have to attempt to fill the void?
J.T.: Losing Young will hurt because of his skill to play the run and passing game, but Jarell White has the skill set to fill the void and has flashed with playing time this season. White made a huge play against Ohio when Young was out earlier in the season. Also Ty Sponsellor and Joel Dublanko will get more snaps.
The Bearcats have won eight of fifteen previous all-time showdowns against the Bulls, and were victorious in five of the last seven contests in Cincinnati. Despite the three consecutive routes by the Bulls from 2015-2017 with a combined score of 143-50, do you feel the Bearcats have a home advantage at Nippert Stadium? Especially given the frigid forecast with lows in the 20’s?
J.T.: This is a totally different team and with the new staff home field is definitely an advantage again. Nobody expected the Bearcats to be in this position and the momentum is rolling. The weather will be huge and it’s a night game if USF doesn’t have players that are used to this type of weather it could get ugly.
What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
J.T.: UC will get revenge on a chilly Saturday evening winning 35-17. The cold weather combined with that hard hitting defense will dome the Bulls.