Alabama, Cincinnati, Kobe Bryant discussed on The Lead

The Lead


Well just step onto the field for a minute here. You know, one of the drawbacks of playing in a non power 5 conference is that Cincinnati games are not as widely televised nationally as a lot of programs. So I think a lot of college football fans know this team, but probably haven't seen them play all that much. So give us the scouting report on this team. What exactly do they do well? Yeah, so it goes back to that balance that we talked about. They have a lot of skill a lot of talent on both defense and offense. It's probably still especially internally a defensive mindset focused team. They have a really good secondary two really good cornerbacks, sauce gardener who is a name. It's hard to forget the name sauce. In heavy tracking and the sauce got to him. That's Gardner. Ahmaud sauce Gardner with the pick. And then on the other side, Kobe Bryant, a 5th year senior quarterback, one of the guys who used that extra year of eligibility. He's one of three Jim Thorpe finalists. For Kobe Bryant touchdown 73 yard mixes. So they have a lot of talent in the secondary kind of a really deep and aggressive defensive line that has allowed them to get pressure on the quarterback and kind of set the tone. And that's the way this team wants to be built under Luke fickle. They want to be built from the trenches. He always says they want to be an offensive and defensive line driven program. But on the offensive side, they've definitely stabilized on the offensive line. But the biggest strides have been at quarterback, the way Desmond Ritter has gone from this scrawny running quarterback as a youngster to now and all around dual threat quarterback who's developed into a much better passer and that's going to allow him to be a high round NFL Draft pick. They have Alec pierce at wide receiver, kind of the same deal. He's a guy who's just developed over the course of his time here and is an intriguing NFL prospect, and then Jerome Ford at running back who is going to go against his old team in the playoff. He played in Alabama for two years before Cincinnati picked him up in the transfer portal. And he's averaging 6.2 yards of Carrie. He has over 20 touchdowns this season, just kind of a real home run hitter who when you see him play, do you understand why he played Alabama when you see him run? He has that top tier SEC Alabama talent and it's been a huge boon for Cincinnati in the backfield. Well, speaking of Alabama and them being a really good program, the bear cats play against the number one ranked crimson tide on December 31st. Now, Cincinnati did beat a very good Notre-Dame team this season. But I think it's safe to say that Alabama is a cut above that fighting Irish team. What will the bear cats have to do to be competitive in this game? Yeah, it's only fitting right Cincinnati makes this historic underdog rise to the top to the CFP. And when they get there, they have to face Alabama. In the way the movie script goes, that's probably the way it has to be. It is going to be a tough game. I certainly don't think that Alabama is just going to automatically blow Cincinnati off the field, especially this year's Alabama team. We've seen Alabama beat really good college football teams and playoff semifinals in recent seasons. I don't know if this Alabama team is quite at that level. I think what will be interesting is Alabama can not play its best game and beat Cincinnati in the cotton bowl. I think Cincinnati will probably have to play about as good as possible to beat Alabama, but they are capable of that. We saw them play really well against George and the peach bowl last year a game they should have won. We saw him go on the road in South Bend and beat Notre-Dame by double digits. So if Cincinnati can play to their full potential, this will be a game and it'll be a close game they'll hang with them and certainly one that Cincinnati can win. The challenge with a team like Alabama is it's constant. They have so much talent, they're so deep. And if you have any slip up along the way, it can be tough to kind of take them down to the wire. So Cincinnati is probably gonna have to play a better game than Alabama in order to win, but it's not an impossibility in my opinion. And lastly, Justin, we talked about the blue collar nature of this team and coach fickle. Now that they're in the college football playoff and have this greatly elevated profile, not to mention an invitation to join the big 12. Do you think that they'll stray from the approach that got them here? That sort of blue collar recruit and local guys kind of approach. And emulate some of the bigger programs that they're now scoring up against? So this is I talked to Brady Collins, the strength coach about this for that story. That's going to be the key. I think the best thing that we did was embrace culture of this university of the city, whereas if you want something you've got to put in the work and then things are comfortable. I don't think they ever want to stray from that kind of local recruiting footprint. The city of Cincinnati and the 300 mile radius around it, they always want that to be the core of their identity from a recruiting standpoint. Even as they have made strides in Texas and Florida and Georgia in places like that. They've announced a $100 million fundraising campaign in the lead up to joining the big 12 to kind of get them ready to move up to a power conference. So they're going to have better facilities, their successes allow them to recruit a higher caliber player, but the goal for Cincinnati is how do we keep that same tough and nasty ethos mentality while upgrading and enhancing in all these areas. That's what's allowed them to be so successful under Luke fickle, and that's certainly the same mentality he's going to keep no matter what conference they're in or who they're going against, and I think the goal for Cincinnati is keep that mindset even as all of the things around you might upgrade and enhance. Justin, thanks so much for breaking all this down for us and if you'll excuse me now I'm gonna go find myself a roast beef sandwich. Absolutely honors, I appreciate you having me on. You can follow all of Justin Williams coverage of the Cincinnati bearcats at the athletic dot com..

Coming up next