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Clock strikes twelve on Bearcats' Cinderella run

Jan 2, 2010, 5:47 PM EDT

Brian Kelly’s former team, the Cincinnati Bearcats, got drilled last night in the Sugar Bowl, losing to a Florida Gators team that could’ve named the score against its out-classed Big East opponent. Whether it was Kelly, interim head coach Jeff Quinn, or the ghosts of Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi, the Bearcats would’ve had absolutely no answer for Tim Tebow and the high octane Florida offense, as the Bearcats’ achilles’ heel — their defense (sound familiar, Irish fans?) — was unable to force a punt until Florida was leading 44-10 in the fourth quarter.

For Irish fans watching the Bearcats for the first time, there were more questions than answers after watching Cincinnati try to slow down the Gators attack. Likely defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense gave up 659 yards of offense, 533 yards of it to Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, and the Bearcats explosive offense only managed 246 total yards, nearly all of it after the game was well in hand for the Gators.

For those Irish fans that worry about Kelly’s ability to install a defensive system with the ability to play passable defense, Friday night’s game does nothing to instill confidence in the new coaching regime, which will have as many as four Cincinnati coaches  joining Notre Dame’s staff. But those sweating the ghosts of Rick Minter, Jon Tenuta, and defensive coordinators past, fear not: the Irish defense already has better personnel than the 12-1 Bearcats.

Diaco and his new Notre Dame defensive staff will inherit a defense replacing little in the front seven, and only Kyle McCarthy from the starting secondary. They’ll also have nine months to instill a new attitude and develop fundamentals that plagued the Irish defense during its transition back to Jon Tenuta’s favored 4-3, heavy blitzing, Cover 2 system.

Anybody that watched Cincinnati this season knew their defense was mediocre, and even Brian Kelly acknowledged his coaching strategy was designed to win football games — most often in spite of his very green defense. While it would’ve been nice to see the Bearcats put up a good fight against the defending national champs, there’s no reason to hit the panic button just yet.

  1. Rob - Jan 2, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    I was more disappointed in the Bearcat offense. After 1st downs on their 1st two plays, the wheels really fell off. Hard to believe that QB was a Heisman candidate before he got hurt, because he was Awful with a capitol A!

  2. sharkey - Jan 3, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    The outcome of this game is no surprise. Cincinnati was WAY over mathed by the mighty Gators going in. Even if Kelly had been coaching them (they got blown out last year too, even with all their senior defense) the result would have been the same.
    However, in Kelly’s defense(pun intended), Cincinnatti is a pretty good team that was built by mainly local players from the state of Ohio, or that region. Now his recruiting is national, and, to me, that is what is going to make or break his tenure at ND as his coaching seems to be solid. His “philosophies”, and “RKG’s”, saying the right things, yada, yada, yada are all wel and good, but will it succeed at ND?
    Charlie left Kelly with a lot of good players even without Jimmy and Golden, so I expect Kelly can and will start strong the first couple of seasons. After that, we shall see. I hope he does well, it would be nice to be in the thick of things. I really missed ND being in a bowl this year.

  3. StephenOfTroy - Jan 4, 2010 at 2:54 AM

    It seems foolish to try to discern anything useful to ND or pertinent to The Liar from the Cincy – Florida game. Way too many variables in play. Then again I’m an English major. If any of you readers are calculus-addicts from MIT, please step forward and identify yourselves now.
    Brian Kelly wasn’t coaching. How many of the players were less-than-motivated as a result? That’s rhetorical; I don’t claim to know. I just know it’s a “known unknown,” to quote Rumsfeld.
    Tim Tebow was playing his last game. How many teams would have had a chance to stop him under those circumstances?
    Urban Meyer had had some sort of medical exhaustion incident, which may have motivated his players and staff to work extra hard (or, maybe, just maybe, the fact that they lost the big game against Alabama motivated them).
    And, of course, there were undoubtedly shenanigans aplenty from the vast zebra conspiracy. Okay not really. But I felt obliged to give Robert T. Gilleran a little shout-out for his tireless efforts to convince us that the absurdly impossible is in fact TAKING PLACE RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES EVERY DAY.
    All that said, what do those of you who were pooh-poohing Tebow’s ability a few weeks ago say now (when we were discussing who should be invited to the award ceremony for best QB in the nation in the context of whether Claussen got slighted by not being invited)? I’m not a Florida fan, but Tebow is the real deal. And he has a great attitude. If he doesn’t make it as QB, you can bet he would cheerfully play RB or even LB if they asked him to. How many Heisman winners can you say that about?
    Fight On, Trojans and Go Irish!

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