The Hokies are starting to get to the meat of their schedule, with perhaps their toughest non-conference game left to play before starting the ACC portion. Let’s take a look at Cincinnati.
If you missed it yesterday, kickoff for the game at FedEx Field has been set for 3:30 p.m.
Here is what’s going on with the Bearcats …
** They haven’t played a whole lot this year. After crushing Pitt 34-10 on a Thursday night opener, the Bearcats sleepwalked through a 23-7 win against Delaware State, committing six turnovers. Quick starts have been their friend. They’ve out-scored opponents 27-0 in the first quarter and 37-0 in the first half this year.
Amazingly, those are the only two games the team has played. Cincinnati had a bye that first weekend and a bye last weekend, so it should be incredibly fresh for this game (but now has to play 10 straight weeks). That’s probably not a major factor this early in the season, when bumps and bruises aren’t as pronounced as they are by the end of the year, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
** Cincy’s quarterback — Munchie Legaux — has an all-world name and is a pretty good quarterback too. First, here’s where his name came from, per the media guide: ”His full name is Benton Shannon Legaux. The nickname Munchie has existed since age 2 when family members tickled by the sight of his attempts to chew food minus two front teeth replaced Benton Shannon with Munchie.”
The 6-foot-5, 199-pound quarterback came into his own last year, replacing an injured Zach Collaros late in the year. In five games, he threw for 749 yards, with five touchdowns to four interceptions. He also ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns. This year, he’s nearly equaled those rushing totals, with 142 yards. He’s completed 61.8 percent of his passes (up front 47.4) for 413 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions.
He’s still light on experience. Although he tore up Pittsburgh on the ground, running six times for 117 yards, he was a little lackadaisical against Delaware State, with four turnovers. But head coach Butch Jones said the quarterback has his full backing.
Jones, by the way, is the reigning Big East Coach of the Year.
** This team can run the ball. The Bearcats lead the Big East and are 12th nationally in rushing yardage, averaging 259 yards per game on the ground. Running back George Winn has 242 yards, a 6.9-yard average and two touchdowns. Ralph David Abernathy IV (72 yards), who is pictured, and Jameel Poteat (69 yards, TD) have also gotten in on the action.
Abernathy, a sophomore and the grandson of American Civil Rights leader, might be Cincinnati’s best offensive weapon. He’s only 5-foot-7, 161 pounds, but he is elusive and versatile. He also leads the team with seven catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging 31.3 yards on kick returns.
But Cincinnati will spread the ball around in Jones’ offense. Legaux completed 20 passes to nine different receivers against Delaware State.
** It’s a small sample, but the defense appears to be pretty good. The Bearcats have allowed 8.5 points a game (3rd nationally) and 338 yards per game (38th nationally). They have eight sacks in two games and 17 tackles for a loss. That’s not unusual for Cincinnati, which led the country in tackles for a loss and was second in sacks last season.
Defensive end Walter Stewart was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after wrecking Pitt in the opener. He has 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks through two games.
Linebacker Greg Blair leads the team with 17 tackles. He’s the younger brother of DeJuan Blair of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. He joined Cincy a year ago out of Lackawanna Junior College but missed most of last year with a knee injury.
Six players in Cincinnati’s front seven are seniors, as well as nine of the 11 players on the entire defense, so it’s an experienced group.
** Vegas had an interesting take. Virginia Tech opened as 7-point favorites at some places. It’s anywhere from 6.5 to 7 points right now.
That seems odd, considering the teams had drastically different showings against a common opponent, with Cincy annihilating Pitt and Tech losing handily to the Panthers.