We have come to the end of our series previewing each Big East team as they prepare to open fall camp. Last, but certainly not least ...
Start date: Today.
Predicted finish at media day: Fourth.
Biggest storyline: Is another Big East title in the cards? Cincinnati has been one of the most underrated teams in the Big East for years now. Fans will tell you it drives them bonkers that the Bearcats are overlooked every year despite the championship rings in the trophy case. So are the Bearcats being overlooked again this year? If Cincinnati is going to make a serious run at another Big East championship, it is going to have to answer some pretty big questions and find major production from a new set of players. Familiar faces like Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, John Hughes, Derek Wolfe and JK Schaffer are gone. Coach Butch Jones has said that his quarterback competition is open between Munchie Legaux and Brandon Kay, though most everyone expects Legaux to be the opening day starter. Look for more of a running back by committee approach, with George Winn, Jameel Poteat and Ralph David Abernathy IV. Defensively, questions about depth up front, particularly at tackle, must be answered as well.
Biggest question marks: Cincinnati has plenty of talent on offense but it still must find players to replace Collaros and Pead, as noted above. Only four starters return to this unit -- three offensive linemen have to replaced and so do starters at tight end and receiver. Aside from working on depth up front, Cincinnati has to solidify its middle linebacker spot with Schaffer gone. Solomon Tentman played well in the spring, but Jones also is looking for more contributions out of junior college transfer Greg Blair. Depth in the secondary, particularly at safety, also is a priority area.
Who needs to step up: Anthony McClung. The receiving group took a step back for the Bearcats last season. It was the first time since 2007 that the Bearcats did not have a receiver make the Big East first team. McClung led the team with 683 yards and six touchdowns, but far more is going to be expected out of him this season, particularly as one of the returning veterans of the group. If he can live up to his potential, I think McClung has a chance to really turn some heads and be a force this season.