Quick look at the 2011 Cincinnati Bearcats

Despite an explosive offense, Cincinnati 2011 success will lie on the defense.

The Cincinnati Bearcats

Last Season: 4-8

Returning starters: 17

Key losses:

Armon Binns (WR) – Led the BIG EAST in receptions (75), yards (1,101) and touchdowns (10).

Jason Kelce (C) – The former walk-on was a three-year starter and four-year letterwinner for the Bearcats.

Ben Guidugli (TE) – A four-year letterwinner and three-year starter at tight end.

Key Returners:

Senior Zach Collaros (QB) – Led the BIG EAST in total offense (282.2 yards) and touchdowns (26), and was second in passing efficiency … Davey O'Brien Watch List … unanimous first team BIG EAST selection.

Senior Isaiah Pead (RB) – He possibly the best running back in the BIG EAST … Doak Walker Watch List … Second Team All-BIG EAST Conference honoree last season after rushing for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns on 157 attempts … missed two full games with an injury.

Senior J.K. Schaefer (LB) - Second-Team all-BIG EAST selection in 2010, Schaefer posted his second straight 100-tackle campaign with a team-high 111 tackles and 67 solo stops … Rotary Lombardi Watch List … limited depth at linebacker puts more pressure on Schaeffer to produce.

Best game:

At Paul Brown Stadium, Louisville visit Cincinnati.

Projected finish: 9-3

After back-to-back BIG EAST titles, Cincinnati stumbled to a 4-8 record and finished 2-5 in the conference. Despite having one of the best offenses in the conference, a young defense struggled to make key plays. The Bearcats return all 11 starters on that defense that will improve. Offensively, the most of the key components to UC's offense return. Keeping Collaros upright needs to be a priority as Cincinnati was next to last in sacks, yielding 33 sacks last season.

With an improve defense, the Bearcats will rebound in 2011.

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