Top 25 Countdown

No. 25 Cincinnati Has the Tools on Offense but Must Retool on Defense

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why They're Worth Watching

Brian Kelly's emergence as one of the hottest coaches in the nation did not happen by accident. The same success he experienced at Division II Grand Valley State and at Central Michigan has quickly translated to the Big East, where Kelly's offense helped lead the Bearcats to the Big East title last season. With experienced quarterback Tony Pike returning and star wide receiver Mardy Gilyard at his disposal, the offense should be even better in 2009.

Player to Watch

Mardy Gilyard, Sr., WR

Gilyard is among the nation's best players despite little fanfare. He had 81 receptions for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and had at least seven catches and 100 yards in each of the final four games. Expect more double teams this season, but Gilyard remains a legitimate all-American candidate.

Why They're Vulnerable

The defense underwent a significant offseason overhaul. Everything from the personnel to the coordinator to the scheme was altered. Now in charge is former Virginia assistant Bob Diaco, who brings a 3-4 scheme that might be better at containing spread offenses. The problem is replacing 10 starters, including the entire front seven. With a new leader on the sideline and new leaders on the field, the adjustment must be quick because Cincinnati opens the season at Rutgers, another Big East favorite, on Sept 7.

-- Zach Berman

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