After catching 61 balls for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, Armon Binns got off to a slow start in 2010. Four games into the season, the senior had a very respectable 19 catches but his yardage and scoring were way down with only 235 yards and two scores. That all changed last Saturday night when the California native returned to form by hauling in 5 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns in just two quarters of play against Miami (Ohio).
As the Bearcats head to Louisville for their Big East Conference opener on Friday night, UC football fans are hoping the man that will always be remembered for his 2009 game clinching TD reception against Pittsburgh is back on track.
Binns spoke about his improved production.
“I’ve been practicing well. Putting together a good week of practice is important. Coach (Jones) always says that if we make big plays in practice, we’ll make big plays in games.”
This will be Binns’ final Keg of Nails game so he was asked what he’ll remember about the heated rivalry.
“It’s always really intense with a lot of smack talking going on, and the crowd is really into it whether it’s here or down there.”
As a true freshman, Binns recorded his first career reception against the Cards, and last year after breaking into the starting line-up, he followed it up with 3 catches for 75 yards including a 24 yard scoring strike from Zach Collaros that put the Bearcats up 14-0 on their way to a 41-10 romp.
His numbers could have been even better because he had a 14 yard touchdown reception erased due to an illegal shift penalty in the third quarter, but Binns himself was the culprit last Saturday night when he was twice called for holding penalties wiping out two big plays for the Bearcats. He talked about the recent infractions.
“I personally didn’t think I was holding, but Coach showed me on film why they called it. I just need to keep my hands inside.”
Cincinnati has twice run afoul of the Cards in their last three visits to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. In 2004, Mark Dantonio’s team was accused of stomping on Louisville’s logo during pregame activities, and a scrum quickly ensued between the two squads at midfield. A similar scene was reenacted in 2008 when Brian Kelly’s group visited Derby City.
Binns remembers the 2008 incident and downplayed it.
“If I remember correctly, we were just trying to circle up and say a prayer, but they kind of took it the wrong way. Those things happen in rivalries.”
At close to 6-feet-4, this senior routinely tries to take advantage of his long frame when going against shorter cornerbacks.
“That’s how I play,” he said. “That’s how Coach expects me to play. He tells me to use the gifts that God gave me. He gave me the ability to jump, some pretty long arms and good height so I try and get the ball at its highest point.”
Every skill player hates to have his speed questioned, and when Binns was asked about his, he scoffed at the notion of his having only 4.6 forty speed.
“No way, man. I’d say I can run the forty in mid to low 4.5’s.”
Despite having access to several years of weight room results, none show Binns as ever having recorded a forty-yard-dash time while at Cincinnati.
As the Bearcats approach the midway point in the season, the fourth year senior knows his college career will all too soon be over.
“The time is ticking away,” he said. “And I’m starting to see my opportunities go away slowly so I have to take advantage of every practice. I think we have something like twenty-one or twenty-two total practices left in the regular season so I want to enjoy playing with the guys while I still can.”
After dominating Miami last Saturday, Binns and his Bearcat teammates are extremely confident, but they have yet to prove they can win on the road. Playing Louisville in what could be a sold-out Papa John’s Stadium on Friday night is their next big challenge, and since the Cardinals’ starting cornerbacks are 5-foot-11 and 6-feet tall, having Binns back on track could be a difference maker for UC.