Gauging The Competiton: UCF, USF, Cincy

surprise

Just a small portion of the 33,306 Temple fans whose chant of “DEE-fense!, DEE-fense!” was so loud the Cincy QB could not hear the snap count. Heroes, really.

Gauging is a pretty good word.

Defined as “to determine the exact dimensions, capacity, quantity, or force of; measure. to appraise, estimate, or judge” it is probably first best used after spring football practice to determine the weaknesses and strengths of Temple football opponents.

If I were writing this with cherry-colored glasses now, I would rate Temple as THE favorite.

The Owls have in my mind the best quarterback in the league in Anthony Russo and POTENTIALLY the best running back in the league in Isaiah Wright. Since we’re not sure new head coach Rod Carey will use Wright on more than a handful of plays from scrimmage, we will have to take those glasses off and put on the regular ones with brown rims and a prescription.

(If Carey made the announcement today or in the summer that he’s putting what Army coach Jeff Monken said was a “touchdown waiting to happen” permanently in the backfield, we’d change our minds.)

temple

Looking through those, I’d have to rate Cincinnati as the AAC East favorite, followed by UCF and then Temple. I cannot see USF rated ahead of Temple under any circumstances, but those are the four strongest teams in the East.

Here’s an early look:

(from USA Today)

UCF

UCF’s annual spring football game Saturday gave fans a chance to see just how close the quarterback battle is for the Knights. Head coach Josh Heupel let all four of his available quarterbacks rotate series under center.

Though they each showed flashes of brilliance, it was clear that more work needs to be done for a true starter to emerge.

“Some good and some bad,” Heupel said of his quarterbacks’ play today. “Today was not any of their best days collectively from start to finish. I thought there were some real positive things early when we were pushing the ball down the field. There were some times where we didn’t handle the tempo as well as we needed to.”

Redshirt sophomore Darriel Mack Jr. opened the game with a two-play drive that was capped off by touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Jacob Harris.

Senior Brandon Wimbush’s best came right before halftime when he led a lengthy drive that resulted in Jacob Harris catching his second touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left.

CINCINNATI

Like Carey, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell does not believe in spring football contact:

He believes full contact special teams in spring are a throwback. Fickell remembered doing them in his days as a player at Ohio State under Jim Tressel.

“It’s not that often that you get to do it,” Fickell said. “Coach Tress used to do it. You kind of get worried. A guy can get rolled up or this, that and the other thing. But as tired as they are by the end of spring, as tired as they are after covering a couple of kicks, the contacts are nearly as high speed.

“It was a great opportunity for our returners, our kickers in those situations were they have to make some decisions.”

The Bearcats are coming off an 11-2 season with a win over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.  Quarterback Desmond Ritter, who blamed the Temple fan crowd noise for a key fumble in one of the two losses, looked good but he has lost his top wide receiver Kahil Lewis.

USF
The Bulls might have a new starter at quarterback in Plant City High’s Jordan McCloud, who was 17 for 25 for 228 yards and two touchdowns (and one pick) in the spring game.

The offensive line, though, which was the team’s weak point a year ago, needs “work” according to Charley Strong. It’s hard to make a living in the AAC with an offensive line in a state of flux like this one.

Sunday: Bulking Up a Position

Tuesday: The Drafted Guys

Friday: Shot Chart

Sunday: Blocked by Collins

4 thoughts on “Gauging The Competiton: UCF, USF, Cincy

  1. The team I’m most worried about is Cinncy. They were the better team last season except on the scoreboard and had a very good recruiting season. Also, they have home field and a reason to beat the Owls. TU’s beaten them 4 times in a row so Cinncy will be fired up especially after last season when but for several missed field goals they would have won. UCF without Milton is beatable. Wimbush can’t throw and that’s why he was benched at ND.

    • That crowd against Cincy made me wonder what 33K plus could like in a 35K stadium at Temple. Cincy has that kind of homefield advantage because the neighborhood there allowed the Bearcats to build a stadium years ago. Somehow, a stadium on Temple’s property has become a political football that no amount of air can make gameworthy.

    • Cincy has more talent and depth. They have out-recruited everyone the last three years aside from UCF.

      In all my years of watching TUFB, the 2019 team has the most talent and depth at the QB position.

      All we need on offence is an identity. Does anyone know what that will be?

      Hard to be run first w/o an all-conference RB.., has Temple abandoned the FB position?

      • Plus, I was hoping Luke Fickell would have taken the WVA job he was offered. He turned it down and Neal Brown got it. I think he feels a championship this year gets him the OSU job he covets. I hope Temple derails those plans but I see the same scenario working out for the Owls that worked out at UCF this past season.Cincy gets all the calls and wins maybe not 52-40 but more like 22-10.

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