Opponent Breakdown: Cincinnati's Offense

Joe Robbins

Cincinnati has transformed its program into an offensive power under former coach Brian Kelly and now his replacement Butch Jones. Jones has shown his talent by adjusting his team from an "air raid" attack into a run heavy offense in the last two years.

Cincinnati has taken their program to new heights over the past five years with an excellent spread passing attack. Brian Kelly started the trend and Butch Jones took over the job and slowly brought balance to the offense. This season he has all but completely changed the offense into a rushing power. One has to wonder if spotty quarterback play is the reason for the run heavy offense, or if it is just the fact that you do what you're good at.

QUARTERBACK:

Munchie Legaux is custom built to run a spread option offense. He's a tall, athletic, and speedy guy that can make plays with his arm or his legs. Legaux doesn't make a ton of big plays, but he is very capable in that regard. Give the guy a seam and he will get into your secondary quickly.

I tend to compare Legaux to B.J. Daniels a lot. I was hard on Daniels last week because he has a propensity to make "wild" plays. Bad interceptions off of his back foot, taking sacks that he shouldn't, reckless fumbles (see Mauldin's sack last week). Legaux isn't nearly as loose with the ball as Daniels, but he does make a lot of bad passes. It can be argued that Legaux will be the most inaccurate passer Louisville sees this year. He is ahead of only Temple's Chris Coyer in completion percentage out of Big East quarterbacks. But Coyer doesn't have the luxury of throwing bubble screens and quick passes all game. Daniels threw three touchdown passes last week and some said he played pretty well. But two questions needs to be asked: Is a 117 rating, 55% completion percentage, two turnovers, four sacks, and zero rushing yards a good game? And also, could he have even done that without a really good running game to help him.

That second question is a major key to the game Friday night. Can Munchie Legaux win a game with his arm? Outside of a win over a down Virginia Tech team where he made a handful of big plays in the passing game, Legaux hasn't had a marquee game in his career. He's only exceeded a 50% completion percentage twice against FBS competition. He's approaching a full season's worth of games and, though he's a winner, he hasn't proven that he's the reason the team is winning. In my opinion, Louisville's defense needs to drop Hakeem Smith in the box and try to stop what is a really good running attack. Make Munchie prove why he believes he's better than Teddy.

RUNNING BACKS:

George Winn (Great last name) hasn't made people forget about Isaiah Pead just yet, but he's trying his hardest to do so. Winn leads the Big East in yards per carry at 6.3 a clip. He is a stocky back that runs with bad intentions. USF gashed Louisville's defense with the dive back off of a read option all day long last Saturday. Cincy runs the read option but they don't typically run the triple option out of it like USF did. I suspect that that wrinkle might be added this week. The triple option works well against our defense because the line plays with large gaps. The easiest way to put it is that there is already a hole created by the defensive alignment. When they have to account for the quarterback and another running back, that means two guys can't fill that gap and the dive back has a lot of open field. Winn hits the hole hard and doesn't look to make a cut. He could have a monster game if Louisville hasn't fixed the issues from last week. Winn teams with Ralph "I have too many names" David Abernathy IV to create a pretty solid 1-2 punch in the running game.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Cincy's best receiver is actually their tight end. The offense hasn't utilized that position much over the years but Travis Kelce is second in the nation in yards per catch and in my opinion he is the most underrated tight end in the country. He won't put up 6-8 catches a game, but he has gashed teams for big plays all year. Five receivers hover between 13-18 catches on the roster. Kenbrell Thompkins leads the team in catches and is the most likely to have a big game. Thompkins torched a talented Virginia Tech secondary early this year. Abernathy is utilized in a Darren Sproles type of role at times and is a big play threat in the passing game.

OFFENSIVE LINE:

I'll keep it short and sweet. This offensive line has only allowed five sacks this season and is leading the way for the 16th ranked rushing attack in the nation. These guys play in this system about as well as any team in the country.

This spread attack focuses on getting the ball out of the quarterback's hand as quickly as possible. It's similar from a passing standpoint to some of the offenses we've seen earlier this year but the major difference is the running game. When we went up against USM, FIU, and USF the expectation was that we would shut down their struggling running games. Obviously, that didn't happen. Going into this game the coaching staff knows that Cincy will run the ball, and they will run the ball until somebody stops them consistently. Louisville needs to correct it's biggest weakness on defense if they want to stop this offense.

KEY PLAYERS: QB Munchie Legaux, RB George Winn, TE Travis Kelce, WR Kenbrell Thompkins

Notes:

  • Wide Receiver Anthony McClung was once a UofL commit. Strong wanted to greyshirt him and he switched to Cincy.
  • Munchie Legaux's real name is Benton Shannon Legaux
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