EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the fourth of eight team previews leading up to the 2011 football season. The previews will be released in reverse order of the preseason poll.
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CINCINNATI'S 2011 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Cincinnati looks to return to postseason play in 2011 after missing a bowl for the first time since 2005.
Cincinnati has won two BIG EAST titles in the past three years (2008, 2009).
Cincinnati will play two home games at Paul Brown Stadium — the home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals — in 2011 (Oct. 15 vs. Louisville, Nov. 12 vs. West Virginia).
The Bearcats were -15 in turnover margin last season, ranking eighth in the BIG EAST.
QB Zach Collaros was unanimously chosen as the All-BIG EAST First Team quarterback last year. He threw for 2,902 yards and 26 touchdowns and led the BIG EAST in passing yards (263.8 ypg) and total offense (282.2 ypg).
RB Isaiah Pead, who was fourth in the BIG EAST in rushing last year, is the conference’s top returning tailback (1,029 yards, 6 TDs).
WR DJ Woods earned All-BIG EAST Second Team honors last year after finishing second in the BIG EAST in receiving yards (74.8 ypg). Woods had eight touchdown receptions in 2010.
The question mark on offense is with the offensive line. The Bearcats return just two starters on the line — OT Alex Hoffman, and OG Randy Martinez. Hoffman was an All-BIG EAST Second Team pick in 2009.
Cincinnati was the only BIG EAST team to average better than 400 yards per game in 2010 (417.3).
Cincinnati returns 11 starters from last year’s defense.
LB JK Schaffer was an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection in 2010. Schaffer has registered back-to-back seasons with at least 100 tackles.
DT Derek Wolfe is the featured man on the defensive line. Wolfe had four sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 48 tackles in 12 starts last year.
Cincinnati ranked in the top half of the BIG EAST in rushing defense (135.4 ypg), but looks to strengthen a secondary that was eighth in pass defense (234.0 ypg)
P Pat O’Donnell ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in punting average last year (41.9 ypp).
The Bearcats will have to replace the production of kicker Jake Rogers, who finished fourth on the BIG EAST’s career list for points by a kicker (339).