first_img Published on October 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr Isaiah Pead is tough to tackle. Cincinnati’s junior running back was tops in the Big East last season in yards per carry and has improved upon that number this season, rushing for 7.7 yards per carry. Despite those numbers, he sometimes gets overlooked. It’s easy to miss him. Quarterback Zach Collaros’ 20 touchdowns garner the national attention. But without Pead for two games earlier in the season, the offense struggled to find any balance. Since his return from a knee injury, it’s been smooth sailing. ‘Just his overall playmaking ability has really been beneficial for us to get him back to full strength,’ Bearcats head coach Butch Jones said in the Oct. 11 Big East coaches’ teleconference. Pead is the motor that keeps the Bearcats offense going. Without him, Cincinnati (3-4, 1-1 Big East) lost to North Carolina State by double-digits, scoring just 19 points in the process. Cincinnati’s backup running backs combined for just 43 yards as Collaros worked with a one-dimensional offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Pead’s first game back from his knee injury was against then-No. 8 Oklahoma. The junior gave UC the rushing attack it desperately needed, running for 169 yards on just 21 carries. The Bearcats looked little like the team that won the Big East last season, falling to the Sooners in a 31-29 nail-biter. Cincinnati played like a different team against OU. And the reason why was clear, crystal clear for Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. ‘He gives them a very good dimension on the ground,’ Stoops said. ‘And any time you have a back of that quality, it sets up other aspects of the offense as well.’ Pead’s ability to break off a big run has opened up Cincinnati’s passing game even more. Collaros has thrown for 11 touchdowns in the three games in which Pead has run for over 100 yards, compared to nine in the four games in which he hasn’t. Pead, who was also a track star in high school, has helped shape Cincinnati back into the Big East title contender that most expected it to be. Oklahoma couldn’t tackle him. The highlights from that game are full of Pead jukes and spin moves. Miami (Ohio) couldn’t tackle him. Pead ran for 197 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries — all in the first half — while Collaros threw for three touchdowns. Pead broke through for an 80-yard touchdown in the first quarter, the longest run of his career. The Bearcats’ first team didn’t even need to play in the second half after a 45-point output in the first two quarters. ‘Obviously he’s one of our playmakers on offense,’ Jones said. ‘Not just from a run standpoint, but from a pass standpoint, too. … He’s got probably some of the best hands we have on the team.’ In Cincinnati’s Big East opener, Louisville couldn’t tackle him. Pead ran for 145 yards on 21 carries against the Cardinals on Oct. 15 in a UC victory. It was against a Louisville defense that has shut out its last two opponents other than the Bearcats. This past weekend was the first time anyone limited Pead since his return from injury. South Florida stacked the box, and the junior couldn’t find any holes, rushing for just 48 yards on 15 carries. Still, his ability to put fear into USF meant Collaros would have more open receivers to throw to. The quarterback managed to throw for 463 yards, and the Bearcats put up 30 points. UC might have lost 38-30, but it wasn’t the offense’s fault. Even in the loss, Cincinnati’s offense made a statement. Pick your poison: run or pass. Because you can’t stop both. ‘We felt like we needed to make them one-dimensional, one way or another,’ USF coach Skip Holtz said. ‘We tried to turn and stop a little bit more of the running game. But Zach Collaros is a very efficient quarterback. ‘I don’t think you’re going to line up and scheme Cincinnati. … You’re not going to win that game 10-9.’ Holtz is right, based on the Bearcats stats this season. It doesn’t look like there will be any 10-9 games. UC’s offense hasn’t been shut down since Pead has returned. Cincinnati’s last four point totals: 29, 45, 35, 30. When a team is averaging almost 35 points per game in a month’s stretch, it’s hard for a defense to game plan. Two playmakers like Pead and Collaros make it nearly impossible. ‘I think it all stems from balance,’ Jones said. ‘Any time the defense makes you one-dimensional, it’s extremely difficult. Isaiah Pead brings so much to our offense.’ Big man on campus QB B.J. Daniels Sophomore South Florida Last week: 13-of-16, 286 yards, 2 TDs, 9 carries, 35 yards, 2 TDs Whew. South Florida fans breathed a collective sigh of relief after Daniels finally displayed the talents he showed off so frequently last season. Daniels, who had thrown five interceptions to zero touchdowns in USF’s first two Big East games this year, figured things out Friday night against Cincinnati. He ran for a touchdown from three yards out to give the Bulls a lead early in the second quarter and then helped extend the lead less than two minutes later, as he delivered a 31-yard touchdown strike to Evan Landi. He would add two second-half touchdowns — including a 70-yard touchdown pass — as South Florida (4-3, 1-2 Big East) defeated the Bearcats 38-30. It’s the most points USF scored against an FBS team all season. And it’s no coincidence the two games in which South Florida has scored 30 against FBS teams (31 against Florida Atlantic being the other) are the two games in which Daniels hasn’t turned the ball over. ‘B.J. has been through a lot of adversity and criticism the last couple weeks,’ USF head coach Skip Holtz said. ‘He was really dialed in, he was focused, he was into it. I thought he played an excellent football game.’ [email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more