Category Archives: Katz on the Cats

A conversation with Brandon Underwood

(11:41 a.m.): After a 2008 NFL Draft in which three UC defensive backs were selected, only one has emerged on an active roster. It wasn’t Mike Mickens – who was cut by the Cowboys and then signed to their practice squad. And it wasn’t DeAngelo Smith – who’s been involved with three organizations already this season.

Instead, it was the least-heralded of the group, Brandon Underwood, a player who was highly-recruited out of Hamilton High, flamed out at Ohio State, transferred to UC and transformed himself into an NFL prospect.

Underwood, drafted by Green Bay, made the 53-man roster out of training camp, and although he hasn’t been on the 45-man active roster for the Packers’ first two games this season – including their loss to the Bengals on Sunday – he’s beginning to make an impact at the professional level.

Read the rest here.

Facing a tough environment

(3:28 p.m.): The crowd at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday could present a problem for the UC football team. The fans are rowdy. They’re passionate. They’re liable to disrupt the opposing offense and intimidate the opposing defense.

If you were at the West Virginia game last season – Bearcats senior wide receiver Mardy Gilyard called it the loudest place he’s ever played – you’ll have a sense of what to expect when UC plays Oregon State at 6:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. But the fans in Corvallis might make it even tougher for the Bearcats than the Mountaineers followers did. These fans carry some serious vocal chords behind them.

Take it from somebody who knows: former USC and current Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga, who played in Corvallis twice in his career and lost both times.

Read the rest here.

Short week isn’t a problem

(5:10 p.m.): If you remember last year’s UConn-UC game, you remember what a disaster that game was for the Bearcats.

A 40-16 pounding that had people questioning what kind of team the Bearcats ultimately would be. Quarterback Tony Pike having to leave the game at halftime because he had lost feeling in his arm. The inability to stop Huskies running back Donald Brown. The 0-for-25 stat on third downs.

It was brutal. And you know what the Bearcats did the next day? They practiced. They had to practice, in fact, because South Florida was coming to town five days after UConn pasted UC. That Sunday workout, though, was a huge event. You could make the argument that it turned around the entire season.

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The rise of Sam Griffin

(10:58 a.m.): When UC junior offensive tackle Sam Griffin first arrived at UC, he weighed between 210-220 pounds and the coaching staff wasn’t exactly sure where to play him.

The Bearcats could 1) put massive bulk on him and throw him on the offensive line; 2) slowly increase his weight and use him on the defensive line; or 3) keep him around the same weight and have him compete for a tight end spot.

They had signed Griffin because he was 6-foot-5 and he had the potential to play in a variety of positions. They liked his ability to grow. But before his freshman year, there was still a question as to what position group the coaches should assign him.

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NEWS CONFERENCE!

(1:32 p.m.): Ah, the first weekly presser of the year, complete with upper administration in attendance (most likely to score free food), a bad BK joke and plenty of reporters.

One of the oft-discussed questions of the preseason was brought up again, but BK, proving once again that he’s a friend to the media, gave us a new, juicy quote. The discussion had to do with how he felt about having to open the season at Rutgers and whether he looked forward to it.

He talked about how if it was his decision he wouldn’t play the game, but that the decision was made above his pay grade (well, not his pay grade per say, but a little higher on the decision-making food chain, I suppose) and there wasn’t much he could do about it expect go play. Standard fare from BK.

Read the rest here.

Questions answered

(9:15 p.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – With a week to play before UC kicks off its season with a jaunt northeast to face Rutgers, BK seems pretty pleased with how his squad has come together.

That’s what the past few weeks at Higher Ground have taught him.

“We feel we’ve developed the depth necessary to be Big East champs,” he said. “We had a lot of question marks coming in. We had some players that we thought could be Big East caliber, but we really didn’t know until we got the pads on and started to compete. Now, we can see we’ve got some pretty good depth over what we’ve done the past couple weeks.”

Read the rest here.

Revels a microcosm

(10:43 a.m.): WEST HARRISON, Ind. – That’s what I think anyway. The knock you no doubt have heard about UC’s football team – one of the major reasons the Bearcats aren’t ranked in either preseason poll – is because they lost 10 defensive starters from last season.

I don’t buy the premise that this will be a huge problem. The season before last, UC had to replace about half of its defensive starters – while adding a defensive end in Connor Barwin who had spent his college career playing tight end, a safety in Brandon Underwood who had flamed out at Ohio State and a linebacker in Torry Cornett who previously had played basketball at Prairie View A&M – and the Bearcats were just fine.

They were more than fine, in fact. In total defense and scoring defense, they ranked in the top quarter of the country’s squads, and they led the Big East in sacks.

Read the rest here.