Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cincinnati Bearcats Season Preview

STORYLINES
Cincinnati has won at least nine games seven times in the last eight years. The Bearcats won their last seven regularseason games to close the 2014 season before falling to Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. The Bearcats return to Nippert Stadium in 2015 after the venerable stadium underwent an $86 million renovation. Cincinnati played its 2014 home games at Paul Brown Stadium. 
OFFENSE 
QB Gunner Kiel battled through injuries to start all 13 games last year. Kiel led the American Athletic Conference with 31 touchdown passes and a 149.4 efficiency rating. The Bearcats return their top seven receivers from last season — players who caught a combined 33 touchdown passes in 2014. WR Chris Moore averaged a conference-leading 22.4 yards per catch and had eight TDs last season. Cincinnati saw a number of running backs go down with injuries last season before RB Mike Boone picked up the slack as a true freshman. Boone led the team with 650 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. OG Parker Ehinger earned all-conference firstteam honors last season and is the anchor of the Bearcats’ veteran offensive line. That unit has 76 career starts to its credit. 
DEFENSE 
Cincinnati has five starters back from a defense that made marked improvement in the second half of last season. The Bearcats ranked ninth in The American in total defense last year. The Bearcats lose two players who registered 100 tackles last season (LB Jeff Luc, LB Nick Temple). The top returning tackler from last year is S Zach Edwards, who made 121 stops with two interceptions and six pass breakups. CB Adrian Witty was granted a sixth year of eligibility and returns to his starting spot in the secondary. 
SPECIAL TEAMS 
K Andrew Gantz earned all-conference second team honors as a freshman after he ranked second in The American in kicker scoring. Gantz hit 16 of 20 field goal attempts in 2014. P Sam Geraci averaged 39.4 yards per punt and ranked seventh in The American. WR Johnny Holton averaged 20.6 yards on kickoff returns, which ranked third among American Athletic Conference players.

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