Can BYU make it past its biggest home challenge or will the Cincinnati Bearcats be too much for the Cougars? On Friday October 16th 2015, BYU and Cincinnati will meet for the first time ever. Last year Cincinnati finished with a decent 9-4 record and was in a three way tie for first place in the AAC, and lost to Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.
Gunner Kiel returns for his Junior (RS) season with a lot of returning weapons. He is in my opinion the best quarterback BYU will face this coming season. Gunner Kiel had an interesting journey to Cincinnati. He was the number one pro style quarterback recruit in 2012 and is remembered for not being able to make up his mind. He committed to Indiana and LSU before going to Notre Dame his freshmen year. He then decided he didn’t like Notre Dame.
Sounds like a Jake Heaps kind of story, but Gunner Kiel had immediate success with the Bearcats. He sat out the 2013 season per transfer rules. In 2014 the sophomore quarterback threw for 3254 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In retrospect Max Hall threw for 3848 with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a sophomore. Kiel had fewer yards but more touchdowns and one extra interception.
Gunner Kiel is a drop back passer, but coach Tuberville claims he is deceptively fast. He had lots of success throwing all over the field last year, but needs some improvement with footwork. It will be to the Cougars benefit to get pressure and get him scrambling.
Backs and Receivers
Coach Tuberville calls his receivers “as good, deep, and athletic as any group in the nation”. They are returning five receivers that had 25 plus receptions and over 400 yards. Kiel’s best targets are 6 foot 6 wide out Mekale McKay, who had 725 yards and 8 touchdowns last year, and senior Shaq Washington, who had 761 yards last year.
Even Tuberville admits they were “too one dimensional last year”. The Bearcats had a very inconsistent run game. In wins they averaged 184 yards per game and in losses they averaged 94.5 rushing yards per game. Not impressive either way you look at it. They are going to try to throw all over the Cougars which in years past spells disaster.
Last year the Cincinnati defense started awful, but improved when it looked like they started to read and react instead of sticking to scheme. This is good and bad, a read and react defense means that the players on that defense are aware enough to make plays, but made them much worst against the pass. I think Taysom Hill will do will against such a defense. Last year they didn’t have much of a pass rush mainly because they didn’t trust the secondary. They claim that things are different this year. That’s still yet to be seen.
Too Early Prediction
This game is in Provo, but is the biggest home challenge the Cougars will face in 2015. Looking at style of play it looks to be another shoot out. I see Taysom being healthy and building off of past performances, in the end he and Jamaal Williams will be too much for the Bearcats. BYU wins 54-48 in an entertaining fashion. GO COUGARS