Keys to Retaining Victory Bell
Bearcat Insider looks at the keys to a the Cincinnati Bearcats keeping the Victory Bell in Clifton for another year.
Pressure and Contain Gus Ragland
The Bearcats have yet to show a defense that places much pressure on the quarterback with only two sacks and one quarterback hurry on the season. Gus Ragland, a product of Moeller high school, can get the job done in the air or on the ground. So, it’s up to the Bearcats defense to get pressure while making sure Ragland doesn’t escape the pocket and pick up positive gains on the ground.
Ragland was Redhawks head coach Chuck Martin’s first recruit when he took over the program and he’s earned the trust of their staff. This season has seen Ragland connected on just over fifty percent of his throws with five touchdowns and only one interception. While Ragland can be dangerous when forced out of the pocket, so far, he’s only rushed for 21 net yards and one score. The Bearcats must place pressure on Ragland early and often not allowing him time to set up in the pocket and make any throw he wants.
Don’t Allow Redhawks Big Plays on Special Teams
Since the start of preseason camp, Luke Fickell and his staff have made working on special teams a priority. Last season, Maurice Thomas came up big with a 94-yard kickoff return against the Bearcats. While Thomas only has three returns this season for an average of just under 20-yards on each, the Bearcats are giving up 19-yards per kick return meaning Thomas could get a chance to break another big one if the Bearcats are not careful.
Kick Up Running Game
Despite the overall rushing numbers, UC has talent at the running back position in Mike Boone and back-up Gerrid Doaks. Both backs average over four-yards per carry and must be given the chance to do the same against the Redhawks. So, the play of the Bearcats offensive line must kick it up a notch giving the running game a chance to keep things honest. So far, the Redhawks are giving up just under 110-yards per game. UC must run the ball so they can control the clock as the Redhawks have done a great job keeping the ball away from their opponents this season.
Have Success in Red Zone
When the Bearcats have found themselves in the red zone they’ve had success. Six red zone touchdowns out of seven attempts is a solid number. However, the Redhawks have been stingy this season as opponents have reached the red zone three times coming away with zero touchdowns.
Don’t Allow Tony Reid and Heath Harding to Beat You
Bearcat fans have heard the name Heath Harding before as the Dayton, Ohio native has always played the Bearcats tough. Now considered a Top 20 defensive back prospect in the next NFL draft, Harding must be respected as he’s not afraid to support the run and is always dangerous for a pick or a pass break-up. But Harding is not alone as fellow defensive back Tony Reid can come up big as well. Hayden Moore must know where these two are on the field or Bearcat fans could be hearing one or both of them coming away with an interception.