Cincinnati still has flaws, Kelly says
September, 29, 2009
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Being in the top 10 for the first time in school history is a nice accomplishment. But Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly says he hasn't really mentioned anything about it to his team.
"They know I'm not very impressed," Kelly said. "We're pleased that we've made that progress and that we can be a top 10 team. But our guys are not patting themselves on the back saying, 'Hey, we've arrived.' They understand they've got to play each and every week or they'll get beat, because we're not that good."
Still, how many teams would love to trade their problems for Kelly's? Surely Mike Haywood would. The first-year Miami of Ohio coach has to find a way for his 0-4 team to compete with the Bearcats this week. The RedHawks have given up an average of 41.8 points per game, while Cincinnati is averaging more than 43 per contest.
How efficient are the Bearcats on offense? Last week against Fresno State, they scored 28 points despite taking only 39 actual offensive snaps. That's a touchdown every 5.6 snaps. Even for a fast-paced no-huddle attack, that's hard to believe.
"In 19 years of coaching, you don't ever think you're going to go into a game and run 39 offensive plays and still be around to talk about wins," Kelly said. "We're built to move quickly, with bigger-chunk plays. We're not a ball-control offense. But we've got to make sure we give Tony Pike enough snaps."
Miami has a new quarterback in freshman Zac Dysert, who made his starting debut against Kent State and threw for 337 yards and rushed for 107. Kelly said the RedHawks will play with nothing to lose and will be motivated by this rivalry game.
Yet this matchup figures to be severely lopsided and could give Cincinnati a chance to work in some new guys and some players coming off injuries before going to South Florida on Oct. 15. Kelly said cornerbacks Dominique Battle (ankle) and Chris Williams (leg) are getting closer, but they may not play until the Bulls game. Marcus Barnett started at corner last week, and freshman Reuben Johnson could see more time this week.
Kelly said linebacker Curtis Young is making good progress from his knee injury but is probably a couple of weeks away. Linebacker Robby Armstrong is having knee surgery this week and is probably out for the season. Kelly mentioned sophomore Alex Delisi as one who could pick up the slack at linebacker.
Running back John Goebel, who missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, should see some time on special teams this week so he can be ready for the South Florida game, Kelly said.