Cincinnati spring wrap

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
9:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 10-3
2011 conference record: 5-2 (T-1)
Returning starters: Offense 4; defense 8; kicker/punter: 2

Key returners
WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Munchie Legaux, WR Anthony McClung, DE Walter Stewart, DE Dan Giordano, S Drew Frey, LB Maalik Bomar

Key losses
QB Zach Collaros, RB Isaiah Pead, LB JK Schaffer, DT Derek Wolfe, DT John Hughes, WR D.J. Woods, LT Alex Hoffman, LG Randy Martinez

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Isaiah Pead (1,259 yards)
Passing: Zach Collaros (166-of-272 for 1,940 yards, 15 TDs, 10 INTs)
Receiving: Anthony McClung* (683 yards)
Tackles: JK Schaffer (114)
Sacks: Derek Wolfe (9.5)
Interceptions: Three with three each

Spring answers

1. Middle linebacker: One of the biggest holes for the Bearcats this spring was at middle linebacker, where JK Schaffer had more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons. After spring ended, Solomon Tentman was penciled in as the starter, after playing sparingly in his time on campus. The reason -- a major knee injury that threatened to end his career before it really started. But Tentman fought back with hard work and determination and is one of the surprise stories of the spring.

2. Inside presence: Cincinnati lost some major beef in the middle of its line, with the departures of John Hughes and Derek Wolfe, both high NFL draft picks last month. But as expected, Camaron Beard and Jordan Stepp had good springs and leave as the starters at tackle. The hope is that their athleticism will help make up for their smaller size.

3. Walter Stewart emerges as leader: Coach Butch Jones singled Stewart out not only for his exemplary play this spring, but also for his growth as a leader. Cincinnati is definitely going to need the leadership after losing so many key seniors from its Big East championship team.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback: Coach Butch Jones isn't ready to name his starter yet, though Munchie Legaux filled in for an injured Zach Collaros in three starts last season. Jones says Brandon Kay has really pushed Legaux this spring, and wants the competition between them to remain open into the offseason. Legaux has got to work on his accuracy and chemistry with his receivers in order to take the next step.

2. Receiver depth: One of the biggest areas of concern headed into the offseason is at receiver, where Cincinnati is in need of a number of players to step up. Receiver was one position where Cincinnati underachieved last season. Kenbrell Thompkins, Anthony McClung and Alex Chisum all have great potential, and so does the recently-converted Jordan Luallen. But given this offense, Cincinnati needs more than just four receivers to be playmakers.

3. Secondary depth: This has been one area that has been a concern for several years now. While Cincinnati does have several experienced players returning, Jones listed depth at this position as one area he wants to see improved throughout the offseason. Cincinnati had several players sit out spring drills because of injury, so that also was a factor.

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