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Bulls Recon: Learning About Cincinnati From Down The Drive

We get the skinny on the Bearcats from Phil Neuffer of Down The Drive, SB Nation’s Cincinnati blog.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Down The Drive is SBNation’s home for all things Bearcats, and Phil Neuffer from them took some time to answer our questions about their quarterback situation, the warmth of Tommy Tuberville’s seat, and Skyline Chili.

FYI: Montgomery Inn > Skyline Chili. Always.

You can see the questions about USF I answered for them here. Thanks to Phil for the time as he does great work at DTD.

Will you help us fire David Boren into the sun?

The entire Big 12 expansion process has been an exhausting, confusing and frustrating process. At this point, I don’t know how to feel about it at all. I know I want Cincinnati in a power five conference but with all the constant indecision, misinformation and flip-flopping, I’m feeling less awesome about the idea of joining a conference that can’t seem to decide what it wants or where its going.

What about USF's defensive performance against FSU do you think Cincinnati can duplicate? Do you have an OL talented enough to get to block to the edge?

While I don’t think UC has the type of running backs that Florida State does, Mike Boone and Tion Green have both been somewhat solid for the offense, which is not the UC offense you may be used to seeing. The two have combined for 463 yards and three touchdowns and last week, they carried the day with Ross Trail making his first start (more on that later). After seeing FSU rip USF’s run defense apart, especially on the edge, I’d imagine offensive coordinator Zac Taylor will try to take a similar approach and feed Boone and Green as much as possible.

Now on the question of how successful the Bearcats will be, that’s less clear. Two weeks ago against Houston they only had 30 yards rushing, so it has not been a guarantee week in and week out that the run game will be effective..

What does Hayden Moore do that Ross Trail can't? And is the Gunner Kiel situation as weird to you as it is to us?

Throw touchdown passes. (Moore has seven this year, Trail didn’t have one last week in his first career start). Honestly, Trail is the guy with a bit more upside in my eyes, but Moore was named the starter to begin the year and Tommy Tuberville has said that an ankle issue was the primary reason that he was held out against Miami-Ohio. The thought could have been that against an 0-3 Miami team, UC could afford to test Trail, but the game was super tight and Kiel still never got a look. Tuberville has been adamant that Kiel will make an impact this season, but the whole situation at quarterback continues to be a mystery, which is holding the offense back.

Who are the other UC playmakers USF needs to be aware of?

Its unfortunate the quarterback situation is so dicey, because even though there are many unproven players at wideout, UC has a lot of young and talented guys on the outside. I said before the season that Devin Gray, a JUCO-transfer, would surprise as a major contributor and he has so far, catching 18 balls for 331 yards and a touchdown through four weeks. He is the only UC player to have at least four receptions in every game this season. Nate Cole, the only senior wide receiver, was getting fed over and over again in the first three games, but he only had two receptions for 10 yards against Miami. I think that was more of a bump in the road. You don’t just stop throwing to a guy after he hauled in 21 passes in the first three weeks.

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Eric Wilson is having a great year. He has 42 tackles and has been great in leading a resurgent pass rush, recording 3.0 sacks.

If you were USF, how would you attack Cincinnati's defense?

Safety Zach Edwards didn’t play last week but he is supposed to be back this week so the secondary should be a little better, but I think attacking through the air is the best way to go. Hold on, why am I telling you this?!

Tuberville is clearly on a somewhat-warm seat. What's the vibe about his future and the program in general right now?

While the school gave him a two-year extension in the spring, Tuberville is really wearing out his welcome for the fanbase. The Bearcats might be 3-1, but it's a precarious 3-1. They almost lost to Miami last week, struggled with Tennessee-Freaking-Martin and gave up more than 500 yards to Purdue. As we see programs like Houston and USF rising, it's disheartening to see UC continue to fall backward under his watch. Whether or not Big 12 expansion happens or not, UC is clearly committed to improving its football future and just more of the same can’t be a part of that. Putting up 7-6 seasons and a bowl berth, while the reasonable expectation for this team, isn’t going to keep cutting it. I wrote before the year started that there had to be some illustration that UC was on the rise to instill some confidence in Tuberville, but so far that has not happened at all.

Is 59.5 the worst over/under in the history of college football wagering?

Call me negative but I actually don’t think this is going to be a really high scoring game, at least from UC’s end. Taylor is in his first year as coordinator and thus far the offense has not looked like the one everyone is used to seeing out of the Bearcats. It has been a bit slower, more deliberate and has not featured the air-it-out-at-all-costs strategy. They’re averaging just about 420 yards of total offense per game (ninth in the AAC) and are No. 71 on the Offensive S&P Ratings after being No. 42 a year ago.

Admit it: Skyline sucks. C'mon, it's ok, this is a safe space. No one from up there will read this.

Hmm. This preview has taken a culinary turn I was not expecting. As politics have taught me, I will answer your question by not answering it and push my own agenda instead. Follow me @philneuffer and @downthedrive and Go Bearcats!