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September 28, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Cincinnati

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Each game, we'll get the inside look at Virginia Tech's opponent by talking with the opposing team's beat writer. This week, we spoke with BearcatReport.com publisher Andrew Force to get the inside look at Cincinnati.

1) How has Cincinnati used its two bye weeks?

Force: At least from what they said, they're trying to go back to the fundamentals. That was their focus. I don't know what that means because they practice fundamentals anyway. I guess they just wanted to go back to taking care of the ball, ball security. There were a few turnovers against Delaware State that were kind of vexing. Aside from that, I think they just wanted to spend the time working on football skills outside of preparing for Virginia Tech, which they've been doing this week.

2) Does Munchie Legaux have to excel for the offense to be effective?

Force: They have a lot of weapons, but he has to distribute it effectively or they're probably gonna fail. He's sometimes hit or miss. He's got a strong arm, but his accuracy isn't the best. He has two nice throws and an awful throw and the third awful throw can be an interception. I think their running game is coming along faster than they thought it would. But with Munchie's inaccuracies, the team does have some problems on occasion.

3) What makes Ralph David Abernathy so good?

Force: I think he is pretty good. The reason why he got overlooked by the SEC schools, he's from Atlanta, is because of his size. He's probably 5'5" and does not weigh much at all. He's very quick, very elusive. His best skill is kick returning. He can run the ball, can catch the ball. He's kind of a Reggie Bush, but not nearly as powerful yet. They want to get him the ball, you just can't run him every down. I wouldn't say he's frail, but you would assume that's why he's not running the ball a lot. It's just a matter of getting him the ball in open space and letting him create. He had a great opening week against Pittsburgh and kinda proved a point. Last year, he didn't get a lot of touches because he was a freshman and they had a second round NFL draft pick at running back. But they're working on establishing their running backs and they put him in there to make plays. He's the one guy on the team that's kinda of a different cover than usual.

4) Is the defense as good as they seem, with 17 points allowed in two games?

Force: The defense is good. You've gotta look at their opponents too. Pittsburgh was not good when they came in and they were playing in probably Cincinnati's most favorable environment, a Thursday-night game on ESPN, sell out, opening day. Everything was going in Cincinnati's favor before the game even started. Cincinnati played NC State in a similar scenario and they won by 25-30 points. You give the Bearcats a home-field advantage at home, at night, they're gonna win most of those games by a lot. Pittsburgh's morale was way down after they got down. The other team was Delaware State and they're not gonna score on anyone of merit, so there's not too much to read into that. Cincinnati's defense is strong on the defensive line and they have one or two good cornerbacks. The safeties are slightly above average and their linebackers are good, not great. I think the defense is probably better than the offense because Munchie is so hit and miss.

5) Does Virginia Tech's loss at Pittsburgh give Cincinnati any more confidence?

Force: If they got more confidence from that game, they're hiding it well and that's probably stemming from their coaches. As you know, most coaches will talk up the other team and down their own team before the game to develop an underdog mentality and that's what Cincinnati has done all week. Even though Pittsburgh downed Virginia Tech, the reporters couldn't get anything out of the players to resemble any more confidence than normal going into this game. They think it's gonna come down to mental toughness and that's where they can set themselves apart. physically, they're there with Virginia Tech's athleticism and size.

Prediction: Man, I think Cincinnati is gonna have trouble scoring. I love what Munchie brings to the table with his legs and I think his arm is strong enough, but I still don't think he can connect on enough passes in a row. Even if he has a nice 20-30-yard play, I think he'll fall short of a sustaining drive. I'm gonna hold Cincinnati to 13 points. Virginia Tech struggles to score early, but will score late. I'm gonna say Virginia Tech 27-13.

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