Cincinnati – Football coaches from pee-wee to the pros will tell you games are won and loss in the trenches. That theory was epitomized Thursday at Nippert Stadium as the Cincinnati Bearcats dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage in waxing North Carolina State, 44-14.
The front four harassed quarterback Mike Glennon for six sacks and limited the Wolfpack to negative 26 yards on 22 carries.
“As a linebacker, does it get any better,” said linebacker J.K. Schaffer glancing over the stat sheet that detailed the Bearcats defensive dominance in the rushing game. “Our first goal is to stop the run.”
The pressure served its residual affect also with the Bearcats forcing three turnovers, including two interceptions.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line kept its signal caller, Zach Collaros, relatively clean as he was sacked just once. Meanwhile, they were opening up holes that allowed running back Isaiah Pead rack up 167 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown.
“We out-physicalled them tonight,” said Pead. “(The offensive line) wanted to run the ball to take their will away. They were why I was able to do the things I did tonight.”
WHAT THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: One of the biggest faults last season for Cincinnati was the inability to force turnovers, while giving the ball away all too frequently. Well through four games, those concerns seemingly have been fixed. Entering the game, the Bearcats led the nation in takeways and were first in turnover margin. They added three more takeaways (two interceptions and a fumble recovery) against the Wolfpack Thursday.
BLACKOUT BONUS: Cincinnati is 3-0 under coach Butch Jones in “Black Out” games. They routed Miami 45-3, then rolled Rutgers 69-38 last season.
RED ZONE MAGIC: Once Cincinnati gets into the red zone, there is a good chance the Bearcats will come away with points. They scored on 18 straight trips into the red zone before Collaros’ second-quarter interception. On the season, UC has recorded points on 22 of 23 red zone trips.