Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft: Dueling Meek Brothers Edition

With the 2021 NFL season half over, it’s been a yearly tradition for the past 5 or so years for Bengals fans to look ahead to the NFL Draft. However, with the win over the Raiders, the Bengals are firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt and fans have more important things to look forward to than the draft.

Next week’s game against Pittsburgh is a huge game and has nearly all of our focus. With that being said, my brother and I decided to take a quick look ahead to the 2022 NFL draft with this four round Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft.

Cincinnati Bengals mock draft

Vance Meek’s Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

Pick 23: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

The Bengals have an issue on the interior of the offensive line. Trey Hopkins rushed back from injury and has struggled at times. Right guard has been a revolving door of inadequate players all season. Linderbaum is a bit small, but has tremendous technique and knows how to use leverage to win. He could be a long-term answer at center for a team that has lacked a great one for quite a while.

Pick 45: Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington

With Riley Reiff clearly a short-term solution, the Bengals can certainly stand to add another tackle. Kirkland has experience outside and inside, but has the physical gifts to enable him to be a starting NFL tackle. He has great length and moves well laterally. He also should be solid as a run blocker with his movement skills.

Pick 89: Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee

Arguably, cornerback is the Bengals biggest need going into the 2022 offseason. The top guys were all gone before earlier picks, but Taylor has nice value here. He has good size and physicality for the NFL. Taylor is a solid tackler and isn’t afraid to get involved in the run game. He is still growing as a cornerback, having begun his career as a receiver. His upside is nice.

Pick 119: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

The Drew Sample experiment has failed. Adding another guy who can block, but is also a threat in the passing game is appealing, and the value here is very nice. He has enough speed to be effective at the next level, while also possessing the traits necessary to be a good blocker. He could develop into a solid starting tight end once CJ Uzomah moves on.

Pick 136: Isaac Taylor-Stuart, CB, USC

Another high upside cornerback is the pick here. Taylor-Stuart is a very good athlete with a track background. He still shows some rawness, but he also has a very high ceiling. He could wind up being a steal as a day three selection.

Blake Meek’s Cincinnati Bengals Mock Draft

Pick 23: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

Center has been one of the biggest weaknesses on the Bengals offensive line. Hopkins, who had a good year in 2020 before the injury, just hasn’t been good this year. Linderbaum has been the best center in all of college football this year and would be an immediate starter for the Bengals. Protecting Joe Burrow is still priority number one and adding Linderbaum would be a big help in that department.

Pick 45: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia

Cornerback is one of the top two or three biggest needs for the Bengals this offseason. Chidobe Awuzie has been fantastic for the Bengals this year, but after that it falls off a bit. Kendrick would be a steal for the Bengals at pick 45. He has legit first round talent, and paired with Awuzie would give the Bengals a feared CB duo. This would allow the Bengals to part ways with Trey Waynes and save around nine million dollars.

Pick 89: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Faalele is a mountain of a man on the right side of the Gophers offensive line. He has elite athleticism for a guy who is pushing 400 pounds. He played rugby in Melbourne, Australia, before coming to the US in 2016 to play his first snap of American football. With Riley Reiff a free agent after this season, right tackle is a position of need for the Bengals. Faalele has the talent to be one of the top right tackles in the league.

Pick 119: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada

Wide receiver isn’t anywhere near the top of the needs list for the Bengals, but Doubs’ talent was too much to pass on here. Doubs is a different kind of receiver than the Bengals currently have. He is a dynamic, big play guy who has the speed to really be an elite deep ball WR. That isn’t all he is though. Doubs also has the talent to separate in the intermediate and short area. Adding Doubs to this receiver room really wouldn’t be fair to opposing defenses.

Pick 136: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State

Tight end may not be a need for the Bengals depending on what happens with C.J. Uzomah in free agency, but Kolar would be a fine replacement if Uzomah decides to sign elsewhere. Kolar is a big bodied tight end who used to play basketball in high school. He is very good in contested catch situations and will be an excellent red zone mismatch.

Check out Around the Block for all of our content and follow Vance Meek @vancemeek and Blake Meek @Bmeek23 on Twitter.

Cincinnati Reds Have Déjà Vu All Over Again With Luis Castillo

Cincinnati Reds Luis Castillo
Luis Castillo Gives Reds Some Déjà Vu (Photo by David Kohl/USA Today Sports)

The Cincinnati Reds face déjà vu all over again with starting pitcher Luis Castillo. Odds are, the Reds learned their lesson the last time they were in this position with an ace starting pitcher from the Dominican Republic by the name of Johnny Cueto.

Like his predecessor, Castillo has excelled at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. His 3.18 ERA at home with a 1.109 WHIP in 382+ IP attests to that. As good as Castillo has been at GABP, Cueto has posted even better career numbers in Cincinnati: 2.96 ERA and 1.089 WHIP in 656+ IP.

The Reds staged a small-market team coup a decade ago in 2011 when they bought out Cueto’s three arbitration years plus his first two years of potential free agency for a paltry $37M over five years. But Cueto wasn’t great yet when he inked that deal. In his first three years with the Reds prior, Cueto posted a 4.27 ERA with a 1.348 WHIP in 531 IP.

The Reds didn’t pull off that kind of coup last year with Castillo. He entered his first arbitration year in 2021 after putting up a 3.62 ERA with a 1.168 WHIP in 519+ IP prior with the Reds. Now, the team can’t expect to swing a deal anywhere close to the Cueto one a decade ago.

So, where does that leave the Reds with Castillo? Probably not in a position to offer the 7yr./$131M contract received by Jose Berrios from the Toronto Blue Jays last week.

Hence the sudden flurry of trade rumors surrounding Castillo. Big-market media mouthpieces may promote these trade rumors, but any trade of Castillo is unlikely to happen until July. Part of the reason for that trade timeline is the subpar 2021 season that Castillo had with the Reds. He finished with a 3.98 ERA and 1.364 WHIP in 187+IP. It took an ace-like second half in 2021 for Castillo to lower his ERA to sub-4.00.

Reds’ ownership under Bob Castellini has faced almost this exact same dilemma before. It really is déjà vu all over again. The Reds have two starters in Castillo and Tyler Mahle headed for free agency in two years. Castillo is headed into his age 29 season in 2022. It’s age 27 season for Mahle in 2022.

Cueto and starting pitcher Homer Bailey presented the same dilemma for the Reds in the mid-2010s. Therein lies the déjà vu for the Reds. Cueto was headed into the last year of his extension in 2015 at age 29. Bailey would’ve been free agent eligible in 2015 at age 29, but the Reds made a fateful decision.

The Reds responded by inking Bailey to a 6yr./$105M contract in 2014 in his last arbitration year. The deal included a team buyout option in the last year, making it a 7yr./$125M deal on paper.

Those numbers conjure too much bad déjà vu for the Castellini clan to offer Castillo anything comparable to the Bailey deal. Bailey was an unmitigated disaster. He signed the deal in his age 29 season. His first year was solid enough, then the wheels fell off. Over the next four years, Bailey had a 6.25 ERA in just 46 starts. His merciful end in Cincinnati produced a 1-14 season in 2018 with a 6.09 ERA.

In contrast, the Reds played out Cueto’s contract, trading him in 2015. Cueto would then go on to score a 6yr./$130M deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2015. That big contract didn’t do too much more for the Giants than Bailey’s did for the Reds.

All of which is why the Cincinnati Reds will likely stand pat on Luis Castillo for at least the first half of 2022. Same for Mahle, who has paled in comparison to Castillo at GABP (5.09 ERA and 1.398 WHIP in 221 IP).

College Football Playoff Predictions: Week 9

This Tuesday the College Football Playoff Committee will release their first rankings of the season. Today I will release my College Football Playoff predictions, with the four teams who will be in and four teams that just missed the cut. Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s get angry about rankings!

Image via GettyImages, Joel Auerbach

College Football Playoff Predictions: The Four Teams In

1.) Georgia

This was the easiest decision to make. Georgia has been dominating everyone they have played with their elite defense. Their offense is not very explosive, but they rarely turn the ball over and have played good enough to keep pressure off of the defense.

Stetson Bennett has kept his turnovers to a minimum (four interceptions on the year), while allowing the running game to be the engine to this offense.

2.) Ohio State

Ohio State has arguably been the second best team in College Football this season with C.J. Stroud developing into a star signal caller and TreyVon Henderson finding his stride as arguably one of the best running backs in college football.

Ohio State’s offense has been incredible. However, their defense still raises some questions and could be the reason they aren’t raising the CFP National Championship Trophy in January.

3.) Alabama

Nick Saban just turned SEVENTY YEARS OLD and is still dominating college football. Bryce Young, the Heisman favorite right now, is leading the team as a redshirt freshman at Quarterback with playmakers Brian Robinson jr., John Metchie III, and Jameson Williams.

Alabama still has enough fire power to score on anyone even after sending five offensive playmakers and two quarterbacks to the NFL in the past two drafts. With a defense that still ranks in the Top-15 among FBS teams (according to NCAA.com).

Alabama might be the most well-rounded team in college football when all is said and done. Nick Saban is the greatest of all time.

4.) Oklahoma

Oklahoma was looking like a team destined to get upset a few times this season. However, they’ve pulled out the win on every occasion thus far. With the change to Freshman Quarterback Caleb Williams, Oklahoma’s offense looks more dynamic than ever.

This defense is littered with talent including: Nik Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey, and Isaiah Thomas on the defensive line. If Alex Grinch can get this defense to play to their potential, they will be an elite front seven come December and January.

College Football Playoff Predictions: The First Four Out

5.) Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Bearcats are going to be huge Notre Dame fans for the rest of the season. They came away from South Bend with a win earlier this year and so far it’s the only loss Notre Dame has had. Although Notre Dame has had some close calls to questionable programs this season, namely Florida State and Toledo, they still stand with a (7-1) record.

Cincinnati is headed by Luke Fickell, one of the hottest up-and-coming head coaches in college football at the moment. Fickell is a defensive mind, as he was a co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ohio State before taking the Cincinnati job.

The Bearcats are also littered with talent on their roster, especially at premium positions. Headlined by Desmond Ridder at quarterback, a potential first round pick next April. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a shut down cornerback, currently having an elite-level season. Myjai Sanders is another high-impact defender for the Bearcats. However, he is currently sitting with a pedestrian one sack on the season.

I believe the College Football Playoff Committee will leave Cincinnati out of the Top-4 for the time being. This committee will do anything they can to keep a non-Power Five school from being in the playoffs. The reason is money. Keeping all of the College Football Playoff money within the Power Five conferences is good business. Spreading it to another conference — is not.

I hear the arguments for Cincinnati “deserving” to be in the playoffs because they’re undefeated, they beat a blue blood program on the road, they’ve done everything they could thus far. I just do not think they’re one of the four best teams in college football.

6.) Michigan State

After a huge win against rival Michigan in East Lansing, Michigan State is the last remaining un-beaten team in the Big Ten.

Mel Tucker has crafted an incredible bend-but-don’t-break defense, allowing over 420 yards per game but only 20.5 points per game.

Kenneth Walker Jr. is having one of the best seasons a running back has had since Derrick Henry won the Heisman in 2015. Accumulating 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games.

7.) Michigan

With a loss to Michigan State, the Wolverines chances at a College Football Playoff looks slim. However, a big win against Ohio State and Michigan State dropping two games with Ohio State and Penn State still on their schedule, still gives Michigan fans some hope of finally making a playoff.

8.) Oregon

With their win against Ohio State fading more and more into the rear view mirror, Oregon must stay focused and win-out in a bad PAC-12. The loss to Stanford has probably already sunk their chances of making a playoff. A scenario to get them in could entail Ohio State losing one more game to Michigan State or in the Big Ten title game. Alabama and Oklahoma would both have to lose their Conference Title Games as well for Oregon to have any chance at making the playoffs this season.

Closing

This College Football Playoffs prediction is hardly set in stone and completely fluid. As of right now, this is who I would have in the playoffs and who I would have on the outside.

Please make sure to comment and tell me who YOU would have in your College Football Playoff prediction. Peace!


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Falcons Dueling Mock Draft

Falcons Mock Draft

We are back today with another big edition of Falcons Dueling Mock Draft. With the win against the Dolphins, the Falcons now have the 17th overall pick in the draft. And now we are back with the Falcons ATB Crew’s dueling mock draft. Big thanks as always to nflmockdraftdatabase.com for the simulator we use.

Hunter’s Falcons Mock Draft (@hthompsonNFL)

Round 1 Pick 17: Kinglsey Enagbare, EDGE, SC

  • The 6’4″ 265lb EDGE is where I go with my most first pick of the day. The pass rusher has exploded at South Carolina over his career with 6 sacks in the shortened season and already has 4.5 this season. Box stats aren’t everything but Enagbare is a steal here and looks to be another great EDGE prospect in an absolutely loaded EDGE class. The toolsy EDGE dominants with his athleticism and long arms and would be a perfect addition to the Dean Pees defense. He needs to work on his run defense, so he isn’t perfect, but he does improve a lackluster pass rush.

Round 2 Pick 50: David Bell, WR, Purdue

  • Adding a nice WR talent here, we take David Bell. He’s a 6’2″ 205lbs WR from Purdue who can do it all. He is a physical receiver who wins with his blend of size and speed while dominating at the point of attack. Bell would give the Falcons a nice vertical threat to play opposite of Ridley and Pitts while they rebuild the offense to fit Arthur Smith’s dream and vision.

Round 2 Pick 58: Jalen Catalon, SAF, Arkansas

  • I will admittedly say I have not watched a ton of Catalon yet, but in the little I have watched I have liked. He is a very old school style safety who isn’t afraid to lay the hammer. He gets moved around the Arkansas defense as a versatile chess piece, with some action in the slot, in the box, and as a free safety. I’m a little concerned about his previous injury history. But his talent is hard to question. Adding Catalon would allow Dean Pees to roll out plenty of different looks for opposing offenses.

Round 3 Pick 81: Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington

  • Yes I went EDGE again because our team needs help. Means isn’t it and Fowler is set to become a FA at the end of the season. Here we take my classic ZTF, after coming back from his achilles tear he was back with a sack the other night against Arizona. ZTF is a physically dominant EDGE who has a decent pass rush arsenal and dominates with his physical tools. Bit raw in some aspects, but if we have an EDGE group of Ogundeji, Enagbare, ZTF, and JTM going into next season, we will be looking good.

Round 4 Pick 120: Zach Charbonnet,, RB, UCLA

  • Zach Charbonnet has really emerged this season at UCLA. The Michigan transfer has come alive under the Chip Kelly and helped propel UCLA back into some form of the spotlight. The 6’1″ 220lb RB has put up 732yds and 7 TD’s on the ground while maintaining a 5.9 yards per carry. Charbonnet would be a great fit in Arthur Smith’s zone blocking offense and would be able to step right into the Mike Davis role and become the main back.

Adam’s Falcons Mock Draft (@Damski32)

Round 1 Pick 17: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

  • Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a sticky CB with good hips who can carry speed downfield. He understands man really well and shows constant ability to play through WR’s hands and even beat WR’s to the catch point on balls. I was extremely impressed with his tackling ability despite having a slender frame and from time to time ducking his head and putting his neck in danger, he shows really good physicality. One thing I LOVE from my CB’s is talking that talk on routes, meaning getting into WR’s faces and letting them know they’re getting locked up. Sauce shows confidence in bunches, and I love that about him. Pairing him with AJ Terrell would give ATL the most talent they’ve had at CB in quiet some time.

Round 2 Pick 50: Thayer Munford, OG, Ohio State

  • Thayer Munford is a LG from THE Ohio State Buckeyes and he’s in his first season as the starting LG, prior to he was the starting LT but the Buckeyes realized his future was at LG. This season Munford has given up very little and has been physically imposing in the run game, several times when the team needs yards they go up his alley. I know people will question this with Mayfield coming along, but imo you can always use bodies on the OL and we shouldn’t let Mayfield get complacent, I think Munford is the perfect scheme versatile player we need, who also can flex a little bit at OT if need be.

Round 2 Pick 58: Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA

  • Zach Charbonnet is an extremely talented RB out of UCLA, formally of Michigan. Standing at 6’1 225 he’s got a physical downhill style to him that’s reminiscent of what Arthur Smith likes in his back, guys who can just be physically imposing on defenders for all 4 quarters. He’s got great vision and good contact balance, when he’s in open field he shows that he can take is south/west to make defenders miss, or he can go right through you, he’s my kind of back, and I think the kind of back that Smith wants here in ATL.

Round 3 Pick 81: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

  • I constantly talk about having these big OLB’s that can destroy gaps and create lots of havoc in the pass and run game, Foskey is that kind of guy, and pairing him with Ogundeji (former Notre Dame DE himself) would be something I’d be in on. He’s a long, powerful rusher, that doesn’t have quiet as much pass rush sense as Ogundeji did coming out, but he rushes with a plan and understands that he has to have different pitches when rushing the passer, and for the most part he does. I love his size 6’5 260, he’ll have a lot of room to put on the weight he needs to and be a physically imposing OLB for us in the future.

Round 4 Pick 120: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss

  • Sam Williams is another one of these long, physically imposing OLB’s, I think, at least from what ATL has done last off-season you’ll see the trend of these kind of pass rushers come to ATL. Why double dip ? Well, pass rush comes in layers and having two shots at the target (upgrading the pass rush) in a talented pass rusher class is something I’m really about in this class. I think Williams is a great late round guy that presents big time upside with the power that he has. Against Alabama you see him numerous times just fold OT’s, and even at times he lines up inside standing up and uses his strength to push the pocket.

Stephen’s Falcons Mock Draft (@stevieraylee)

Ok, guys, I’m going out on a limb this week since I’ve finished a distant third in the voting for two weeks straight. It’s a risky proposition, but sometimes you have to give the people what they want. I’m not above shamelessly pandering to the fan base.

Round 1 Pick 17: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

  • Y’all will get sick of seeing Davis’ name in these mocks by the time we get to the draft. I’d imagine he’ll be my pick in the first in the overwhelming majority of these, but he is a perfect fit for what Atlanta needs. So many of the defensive breakdowns for the Falcons start with their inability to control the line of scrimmage. Davis’ ability to command double teams and wreak havoc inside will elevate the play of everyone around him.

Round 2 Pick 50: Derion Kendrick, CB, UGA

  • Kendrick won’t set records at the combine or blow people away with freakish athletic traits. However, he’s a heady, versatile cornerback that fits what Dean Pees wants to do perfectly. A solid man coverage who truly excels in zone coverage, where his background as a receiver makes him especially dangerous. There is room to grow, and that growth may have painful moments, but Kendrick has the tools to be an excellent CB2 to pair with AJ Terrell.

Round 2 Pick 58: Nolan Smith, EDGE, UGA

  • A former five-star recruit, Smith, has the length, flexibility, and athleticism to excel as a pass rusher in Atlanta. He’s having a less productive season than many expected, but I suspect he will turn heads when he makes it to the combine and solidify his positioning as a Day 2 edge rusher. Sub-240lb edge defenders generally get pigeonholed into this role, so Smith will need to add some mass. Still, the traits are all there. It’s just a matter of development.

Round 3 Pick 81: Jamaree Salyer, IOL, UGA

  • I am committed to this all-UGA draft, no question. This, however, puts me in a position where I have to discuss a prospect I don’t know particularly well. Salyer was a five-star recruit and, at 6’4, 325lbs should immediately upgrade the physicality of the Falcons offensive line. Salyer has played all over Georgia’s D-line, and that versatility would prove invaluable on an incredibly thin Falcons roster.

Round 4 Pick 120: Zamir White, RB, UGA

  • I’ll round out my attempt to win votes by unabashedly appealing to UGA fans by selecting Zamir White in the fourth round. White is a bit of a limited player. He isn’t particularly shifty or much of an asset in the passing game. However, he is an excellent north-south power runner and could easily fill Mike Davis’s role with the Falcons.

Five Step Drop – Week 3

Doug McSchooler – freelancer, FR170771 AP

Moving forward, the Five Step Drop article series is how we at ATB Hoosiers will be reviewing the game from the week before and previewing the next game on the schedule.  The hope is that we can be your one stop shop for Hoosier content. 

The first 2 steps will be a review of both the offense and defense from the week before.  Steps 3 and 4 will be an offensive and defensive preview with a few keys to victory for each side of the ball.  The 5th step is going to be a player spotlight.  This can be either a player who played at an extremely high level the week before or could play a large role in the Hoosiers getting a win in the next game.  In place of this small explanation there will always be a very broad review of the week before to set the table for the first and second step!

Week 2 overview

Last week, the Hoosiers had a stereotypical “get right” game when FCS Idaho came to Bloomington.  Following a very underwhelming performance in Iowa City, this was an opportunity for the Hoosiers to get back to the basics.  They finished with a 56-14 victory and were able to get some young guys and backups some live action snaps.  The one thing that was obvious from the opening kick was the energy on the field and in the stands. The Hoosier faithful showed out with well over 40,000 people and a packed student section.  I can tell you from experience, that is an unheard-of crowd unless someone like Michigan or Ohio State is in town.  #LEO was in full affect and it’s amazing to see the players feeding off the crowd!

First Step – Week 2 Offense

I’m sure if you go a read articles by other Hoosier sources, they’ll focus on some big plays and the fact that the offense played fine.  That’s it…fine.  Now I’m sure you saw the Hoosiers scored 56 points and now I’m telling you the offense was just “fine”.  Well, it’s the truth.  The Offense ended the game with a total of 338 total yards of offense, and 76 of those yards came on one play in the 4th quarter when backup QB Jack Tuttle hit A.J. Barner for a TD.

It is way too early in the season for overreacting and saying this offense is going to cost the Hoosiers a special season, but that doesn’t mean questions can’t be asked based on this performance.  Ignoring Penix’s rushing due to a couple of sacks, the Hoosiers averaged 4.17 yards per carry vs Idaho.  Truthfully, that number would be ok if it was against Ohio State or Michigan…not Idaho.  The offensive line struggled to open consistent holes in the run game and allowed several pressures.  Moving forward, if the Oline can’t play more consistently, the offense will likely have a glass ceiling as it reaches Big Ten play.

I’d love to say that is the end of the questions for the offense following the Idaho game. There have to be some questions posed to Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach about Michael Penix.  This is the third straight game where the pass game has lacked any creativity.  Sans the 76-yard toss by Tuttle, the Hoosiers passing game went 12/19 for 83 yards.  In 2 games, Penix hasn’t looked anything like the Penix of old.  I still see flashes of the quick release, nice tight spiral, and velocity on a few of his throws, but overall, he seems very tentative.  Moving forward, the hope is that Nick Sheridan is just easing Penix back into the offense and this has just been a bump in the road to a 3rd consecutive bowl game.

Second Step – Week 2 Defense

For all the questions there are with the offense, there are next to none with the defense.  The Hoosiers came out as if they were shot out of a cannon.  From the first snap, the intensity was high and it lasted the entire game.  Allowing only 261 yards, the defense clearly overmatched and overwhelmed the Vandals, as they should have!  Through 2 games, the defense is clearly still running hot following the success they achieved in 2020.  Outside of the long TD run in the Iowa game where Reece Taylor lost contain on the edge trying to make a big play, the defense is showing the ability and potential to carry the offense and all its questions.

Normally Special Teams are just an afterthought.  However, vs Idaho, the defense and specials squads tag teamed to bury the Vandals before halftime.  The Hoosiers scored 2 ST touchdowns in the first half and set the offense up with quality field position all night.  There is no way around it, the game ball goes to the 3rd and often ignored phase of the game in this one!

Third Step – Week 3 look ahead on Offense

This week, the Hoosiers get #8 Cincinnati.  The Bearcats haven’t played anyone of note, their defense has shown it is pretty stout and has several draftable prospects.  Cincy has only allowed 21 points to this point. They have also held teams to under 4 yards per carry in both games and forced 5 turnovers.  For the Hoosiers, the key will be continued continuity on the offensive line.  Yes, I have serious questions about that group.  However, if the Oline can build on some of the positives from the Idaho game, perhaps they can take a little pressure off of Penix and allow him to continue knocking off the rust.  It’s also time for Nick Sheridan to empty the bag a little. IU has try to get the playmakers that exist on this offense into space more frequently.

Fourth Step – Week 3 look ahead on Defense

This is going to be a very fun matchup between the Cincy offense and IU defense!  The Bearcats are led by quarterback Desmond Ridder, who will certainly be drafted this spring.  In the first two games Ridder has completed over 72% of his passes and has 6 touchdowns to 1 interception.  On top of a dynamic passing game, running back Jerome Ford is averaging 7.8 ypc and has 4 TDs.  The Cincy offense will be the first intense challenge for this Hoosier defense.  The first key is to attempt to limit big plays for the Bearcats.  If the Hoosiers can force Ridder to make smart decisions on 8-10 play drives, the chances of him making mistakes are much higher.  The second key is to get pressure on Ridder.  If the Hoosiers can’t make negative plays and put the Bearcats behind the chains, it could be a long day.

Fifth Step – Player Spotlight

I have two players that I’m keeping an eye on Saturday vs Cincinnati, Micah McFadden and Ryder Anderson.  Both have shown an ability to make plays in the backfield, and that will be vital on Saturday.  Simply, if the Hoosiers can’t make Desmond Ridder sweat, I’m unsure they can win.