The improvement we expected to see out of the Cincinnati secondary simply was not there in the first half against Tennessee.
The Vols passed at will on the defensive backs. Quarterback Tyler Bray was 21-of-27 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Da'Rick Rogers had seven receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee racked up 19 first downs and 332 total yards. The Vols used some trickeration, too, recovering an onside kick after tying the score up at 7 early in the game, and converting it for another touchdown.
Isaiah Pead has shown flashes for the Bearcats, with 10 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown. But they hurt themselves on two critical fourth-and-1 situations. Both times, Cincinnati tried to run for it and failed to convert. That has been a huge difference in the game so far.
Tennessee had to like its matchup against the Cincinnati secondary going into the game. The Vols' receivers are much taller, and the Bearcats secondary struggled mightily last season. So what has to happen in the second half for Cincinnati?
Cincinnati needs to get more pressure on Bray. He has basically had all day to get the ball to his open receivers.
Stops are critical. Tennessee only had one punt in the first half.
Bigger plays in the pass game for Cincinnati. Right now, the longest completion Zach Collaros has is for 15 yards.