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Extra Points: Vols thump Bearcats

Tennessee 45, Cincinnati 23
September 10, 2011
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.

Drew Frey (photo by Brian Baker/Lacking Focus Photography)

The Cincinnati Bearcats lost their first game of the season on Saturday, falling to the Tennessee Volunteers by a final score of 45-23 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In the beginning, the game appeared to live up to its build – two high-powered offenses moving up and down the field and lighting up the scoreboard. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, they never really could find a way to stop the Volunteer offense.

The Bearcats offense showed how explosive they could be, but it simply wasn’t enough to keep up with Tyler Bray and the Volunteer offense. Bray threw for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns, while running back Tauren Poole rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries.

For the Bearcats, quarterback Zach Collaros threw for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Isaiah Pead carried 14 times for 155 yards and a touchdown. DJ Woods, the Bearcats’ leading receiver, caught 9 passes for 111 yards.

With the loss, the Bearcats’ record drops to 1-1 on the season. They return home next Saturday to take on the Akron Zips at 3:30 at Nippert Stadium.

Quotables

Cincinnati Head Coach Butch Jones

(Opening statement)

Butch Jones (photo credit: Brian Baker/Lacking Focus Photography)

“You look at the first half and two fourth-and-shorts that we didn’t come up with anything. Our defense did a great job of answering the call on one and they missed the field goal. But the tipped field goal, we gave them a possession on the on-side kick, we have a long way to go and we have to get better in a hurry. The biggest thing is rushing the passer, they threw the ball 40-something times and we had zero sacks. We have to get better in pass coverage, I think everyone saw that. We’ll go back to working on that.”

(On any positives he took from the game)

“We didn’t turn the football over, we made some plays, but the season is still very early, we just need to keep progressing.”

(On how his team handled the atmosphere of Neyland Stadium)

“I thought we were ready to play and jumped out early, but when you go on the road, you have to play with a high level of consistency, you can’t beat yourself.”

(On the quick start and the play of senior RB Isaiah Pead)

“He just continues to get better and better. He was really focused and kept having second and third ef orts. I thought our receivers did a good job blocking down the field, and up front, if you take away a couple of third-and-shorts, I thought we did some good things in the run game.”

Senior QB Zach Collaros

Zach Collaros (photo credit: Brian Baker/Lacking Focus Photography)

(On the Tennessee defense)

“They came out today with a dif erent look than what we were expecting. We were expecting a lot more of a quarters coverage that we didn’t get. I thought we adjusted well to it and moved the ball well, but we didn’t finish drives. A couple of third and ones, fourth and ones and some missed opportunities. We would like to have those back.”

(On not converting near the endzone)

“I thought I was over (the goal line). You never know how that would have changed the game but we still had two more downs to get it in and we didn’t. That’s on us. It’s not on the referees and it’s something we have to correct.”

(On what went wrong)

“We’ll have to watch the i lm. I think Tennessee did a better job than we did. We tried to go smashmouth on them and run the ball on third and one, fourth and one and if you expect to win the conference and expect to be a good team, you expect to get that yard. I don’t know what went wrong, but like Isaiah said, we are going to get in and watch the i lm tomorrow, put this game behind us and move on for Akron.”

Senior RB Isaiah Pead

(On his long touchdown run)

Isaiah Pead (photo credit: Brian Baker/Lacking Focus Photography)

“Once I broke the first tackle all I saw was KT (Kenbrell Thompkins) getting the block and sideline and touchdown. You run for the touchdown. That is what you play the game for.”

(On breaking a tackle on the TD run)

“I was expecting to get hit. You have to expect to get hit every play but you don’t have to expect to go down.”

(On when the game was tied at 14)

“I felt like we were ready to go point-for-point with them. If it would have been a shootout, we were up for it. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. We had a few mistakes in big situations and we have to get that corrected like Zach said. We get back in the lab tomorrow and get ready for Akron.”

Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley

(On the onside kick and the message it sent to his team)

“We go into every game with stuf to try to generate some plays on special
teams. We’ve done a pretty decent job in the last two years, and (Michael) Palardy just had great execution. We’ve practiced it a lot and felt like we had a chance. The First drive, the guy goes 60-something yards and runs all over us, and then we scored. I just wanted to keep a little momentum going. It worked, so it was a good way to kind of l ip the momentum.

(On the short yardage stops by the defense)

“Those are (like) turnovers. People don’t realize how big those are. It’s not just the stops; it’s i eld position. If they punt it, you saw what that punter can do. He put it on the one. Those are about 40-yard stops/turnovers. It generates juice. You get a little excited. Those plays are huge on fourth downs.”

Sophomore QB Tyler Bray

(On expecting holes in the defense)

“They came out with the same defense that Montana showed, so we had a week, already, on that defense. We just went out and executed.

Junior DB Marsalis Teague

(On Cincinnati getting more one dimensional)

“They did. That gives credit to our defensive line, pushing them back, and we really did a good job out there.”

Key Numbers

0.The number of road wins against the SEC in Cincinnati Bearcats football history. With the loss to Tennessee, the Bearcats fall to 0-20-1 all time on the road against SEC teams. Also the number of turnovers the Bearcats had for the 2nd week in a row.

405. Number of passing yards for Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray picked apart the Bearcat defense with ease. Bray threw the ball 41 times, completing 34 of those passes and racking up four touchdowns.

37:23 The number of minutes the Tennessee Volunteers possessed the football on Saturday. By comparison the Bearcats only had 22:37 of possession time. The Vols dominated the ball and simply did whatever they wanted to on offense.

Turning Point

You could argue for a number of different situations, but the turning point of Saturday’s game against Tennessee probably came when the Bearcats failed to convert on fourth down and less than a yard for the second time in the game. After failing on their first attempt, the Bearcats managed to hold Tennessee to a missed field goal attempt. However, after failing to convert a fourth and short a second time, you could sense the frustration setting in, and all of the momentum sliding to the other sideline.

Unsung Hero

After really thinking this one over, the award for unsung hero goes to no one. Not only were the Bearcats blown out by the Volunteers on Saturday, they were blown out in all facets of the game. There was plenty of blame to go around; therefore no one gets the award this week.

First Quarter

The game started in an eerily similar way to the Bearcats game against Austin Peay last week. On his first carry of the game, Isaiah Pead bounced off of potential tacklers before springing free and taking it 65 yards to the house – 7-0 Bearcats.

At that point, all seemed well for the Bearcats, but the excitement was short lived. The Volunteers answered right back on their first drive of the game when Marlin Lane took it into the end zone from two yards out.

On the ensuing kickoff, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley rolled the dice and attempted a surprise onside kick. Perhaps more surprised than anyone was the Bearcats special teams who allowed Tennessee kicker Michael Palardy to fall on his own kick and give the Volunteers the ball back. On that drive, Tennessee QB Tyler Bray found Justin Hunter in the end zone from 33 yards out, giving the Volunteers their first lead of the game.

On the next drive, the Bearcats answered back when Zach Collaros found Adrien Robinson from 13 yards out to even the score at fourteen. That’s where the first quarter ended.

Second Quarter

The second quarter started off with Tennessee regaining the lead, 21-14, when Tyler Bray found Da’Rick Rodgers from eleven yards out for a touchdown. On the Bearcats ensuing possession, they found themselves in a fourth-and-one situation. They elected to run a similar play to the one they ran in their previous game against Austin Peay, starting in the shotgun and hurry to the line for a run play. Much like last week, the play failed, giving the ball back to Tennessee.

The Bearcats defense held, but after a second fourth-and-inches failure, again out of the shotgun formation, the Volunteers was score again to increase their lead to 28-14. The Bearcats got within field goal range as the half drew to a close, but Tony Miliano’s field goal was blocked, sending the Bearcats into the locker room down 14.

Third Quarter

The third quarter started with Tennessee building their lead over the Bearcats. Volunteer quarterback Tyler Bray continued to pick apart the Cincinnati secondary, and then finished off the Volunteers’ fifth touchdown drive of the game when he took it in from one yard out for his first rushing touchdown of the season.

With the Volunteers leading 35-14, the Bearcats took the ball and quickly reached the Tennessee one yard line when Zach Collaros found Kenbrell Thompkins on a fade route. The Bearcats again elected to stay in the shotgun formation for three consecutive plays inside the five-yard line. Again, they would fail to find the endzone and had to settle for a field goal.

Leading 35-17, the Volunteers again took the ball and proceeded to pick apart the Bearcats defense. This time Tyler Bray found Zach Rodgers for 16 yards and a Volunteer touchdown, extending their lead to 42-17 as the third quarter drew to a close.

Fourth Quarter

As they say, the rest of Saturday’s game was academic. The Bearcats did score a touchdown midway through the quarter when Zach Collaros found Anthony McClung who made a beautiful catch in the corner of the endzone, but outside of a Texas field goal the rest of the quarter was relatively uneventful.

Final Thoughts

The Bearcats traveled to Knoxville with dreams of landing another program building win. Unfortunately, they left Knoxville with nothing more than a harsh reality check. If the Bearcats hope to compete for a Big East championship, they’ll need to see improvement in every facet of the game.

The play calls were questionable at times, the offensive line struggled again, and the defense looked like they had never played a game. Outside of Isaiah Pead, who continues to establish himself as one of the most talented running backs to ever wear a Bearcat uniform, you’d be lucky to find a silver lining in today’s results.

The team will head back to Cincinnati now, and must immediately turn their focus to the future if they hope to avoid a season that ends up looking an awful lot like the one they experienced just a season ago.

Notable

TEAM NOTES

• UC moved to +6 on the turnover margin with DB Dominique Battle's forced fumble and LB Ben Pooler's recovery in the first quarter. The Bearcats moved to +7 in the fourth quarter after DE Walter Stewart forced a fumble and DT Derek Wolfe recovered.

• Saturday's attendance was 94,207, marking the largest crowd UC has played in front of since playing in front of 84.476 at Oklahoma on Sept. 6, 2008.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

• Dominique Battle started at defensive back instead of Deven Drane. It was Battle's first appearance of the 2011 season and his first start since suffering a season-ending knee injury against Oklahoma on Sept. 25, 2010.

• RB Isaiah Pead had a 65-yard touchdown run on UC's first offensive drive. It was the second straight game Pead has scored on UC's first drive and his longest run from scrimmage of the season.

• Pead carried five times in the first quarter for 104 yards and a touchdown, an average of 20.8 yards per carry.

• It was Pead's sixth career 100-plus yard rushing game and his first of the season. He last rushed for 100 or more yards when he tallied 213 yards on 31 carries against Rutgers on Nov. 20, 2010.

• QB Zach Collaros completed his first six passes of the game.

• Collaros completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to TE Adrien Robinson. It was Robinson's third career touchdown, the first TD for a UC tight end in 2011 and Robinson's first TD since the Oklahoma game on Sept. 25, 2010.

• Battle forced a fumble with 3:33 left in the first quarter which was recovered by LB Ben Pooler.

• K Tony Miliano made a 23-yard field goal with 7:09 left in the third quarter, the second made field goal of his career.

• WR DJ Woods had a 46-yard reception in the second quarter, his longest of the season.

• Woods tallied nine catches for 111 yards, the fifth 100-yard receiving game of his career.

• WR Kenbrell Thompkins had a 24-yard reception in the third quarter on a nice sideline grab. It was the longest reception of his career. He had a career-best four catches for a career high 58 yards.

• DE Walter Stewart had a forced fumble with 9:57 left in the game. DT Derek Wolfe recovered.

• DB Camerron Cheatham had a career high nine tackles.

• WR Anthony McClung had a six-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, his third touchdown of the year.

GENERAL NOTES

The City of Knoxville renamed Union Square Park in honor of the late Paul Hogue, a former UC basketball standout, Saturday morning ... Hogue, a Knoxville native who helped Cincinnati to two NCAA basketball championships, died in 2009 at the age of 69 ... UC's game captains were: QB Zach Collaros, LB JK Schaffer, WR Kenbrell Thompkins and DLJohn Hughes ... OL Evan Davis carried the City of Cincinnati flag out of the tunnel ... Thompkins and Tennessee QB Chris Simms were teammates at El Camino CC ... Both were in the center of the field for today's coin toss.

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