The UConn football team will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats Saturday afternoon. The Huskies and Bearcats will meet for the 12th time on Saturday, with Cincinnati leading the all-time series 9-2.
The Huskies (3-4, 1-2 the American) will hope to rebound after a tough loss at the Homecoming game last week against South Florida. And the Bearcats (3-3, 0-2 the American) are also hoping to get a win after a losing to BYU last weekend.
I talked with David Wysong, the sports editor at The News Record, Cincinnati’s student newspaper to get to know the Bearcats a little better ahead of Saturday’s game.
Zampini: Name one player on each side of the ball that UConn fans watching the game should look out for. Why?
Wysong: On offense, one player that is not thought of very often is sophomore running back Mike Boone. He has a significant amount of carries than the team’s leading rusher, Tion Green, which is partly because of injury but Boone averages 8.5 yards per carry and has scored in 10 of his last 12 games.
On defense, I would definitely watch out for junior safety Zach Edwards. He is currently second on the team in tackles with 35 and is the active career leader on the team in tackles with 229. Edwards has one interception so far this season too and also played wide receiver in high school so he defeats the notion that defensive backs can’t catch.
Zampini: What should we expect at the QB position on Saturday?
Wysong: No matter who plays quarterback for the team on Saturday you can expect a player that can put up big numbers. When UC played Memphis, Hayden Moore had the biggest game in school history passing for 557 yards and four touchdowns. Gunner Kiel also passed for over 400 yards against Temple this season and had four games last season where he passed for over 350 yards. If Moore starts you will see a little more athleticism but if Kiel starts you will see a quarterback that can come through in pressure situations.
Zampini: What is Cincinnati’s biggest strength and weakness?
Wysong: UC’s biggest strength is their passing game by far. They rank No. 7 in the nation in passing with 358.2 yards per game, which has catapulted them to become a top-10 offense.
The weakness is also on the offensive side of the ball. The team is ranked 126th in turnover margin and continues to turn the ball over in crucial situations. They have lost 10 fumbles in five games and have also thrown the same amount of interceptions.
Zampini: Cincinnati’s offense is ranked third in the American Athletic Conference at 36.5 points per game, what can you attribute that to?
Wysong: The success of the offense can be attributed to the trio the team has in the backfield and the weapons they have at receiver. The Bearcats have three running backs in Green, Hosey Williams and Boone, who all have the capability to break a big run and to have a big game. At the wide receiver position the biggest weapon is Shaq Washington. He is 16 receptions away from being UC’s career leader in total receptions with 205 and he has been a dependable target for Kiel and Moore to throw to. The team also has Chris Moore and Max Morrison who are big targets as well.
Zampini: Which Cincy player has the best chance at playing in the NFL?
Wysong: The player with the best chance to go pro for the Bearcats may very well be the team’s kicker Andrew Gantz. He was up for discussion for the Lou Groza award last year but did not win it because of him being a freshman but had crucial field goals for the team, one coming from 48 yards out in the blistering cold against ECU to win the game. So far this season he has made 13 of his 15 field goal attempts and made a career-long 51-yard field goal against the Miami Hurricanes.
Zampini: What is your prediction for this game?
Wysong: I think the Bearcats will win on Saturday but it may not be as big of a blowout as last year. The team has been struggling recently, especially with their injuries on defense and if the Huskies can pressure either quarterback they will most likely struggle. With the Bearcats’ mediocre defense and high-powered offense it may be played like majority of their games which is high-scoring.