Expectations on rise at Cincinnati

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Garrett Campbell, a former walk-on, will start at center for Cincinnati. [University of Cincinnati]

Cincinnati at UCLA


Series: First meeting

Garrett Campbell stresses investment, loyalty and trust when discussing how much Cincinnati football will change this season in coach Luke Fickell’s second season.

One of the first things Fickell did in the offseason was invest in Campbell by putting him on scholarship.

When Tommy Tuberville was coach, Campbell played the offensive line for free. He was redshirted as a freshman walk-on in 2013, injured in '14 and played in nine games in ’15 before getting injured. He became a starter last season when UC hired Fickell away from Ohio State.

“I had three different (line) coaches, and there would be promises and then they left,’’ Campbell said. “I can’t thank Luke enough for providing me with a scholarship. You sit in there and listen in the meetings and think, ‘Am I really sitting in here paying for this?’ This was a big gift to my parents.’’

Campbell, a sixth-year medical redshirt from Cincinnati St. Xavier, will start at center when the Bearcats open against UCLA. He said the team should look a lot different than the one that went 4-8 last season.

“The first year under coach Fickell was about implementing the culture that he wanted and his system,’’ he said. “It was a whole new offense and defense and we played a little bit cautious. In the second year, we can play loose and fast. I’ve been through the ups and downs, the championship years and the losing years. I couldn’t tell you that I knew a lot of these guys six months ago, but coach has brought us together through a lot of activities.’’

Fickell actually is bullish about opening the season against Chip Kelly making his coaching debut with UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

“I have high expectations on how we play,’’ he said. “That’s what I’m most intrigued to see. I am excited to see how we’ve grown. There’s no greater opportunity by starting the season in a venue like the Rose Bowl.’’

He said that last season “was a long year” and that having to wait through the winter, spring and summer for another season “has been a long time coming.’’

One of the Bearcats victories last season came against Austin Peay, an FCS team, in the opener. Another was in the final game against lowly Connecticut.

“I think we’ll see a looser and more confident team,’’ Campbell said. “We know the system. Coach Fickell has talked to us about shaking things off and playing with some swag. I think that’s going to be the new Bearcats.’’

Campbell is being a team man by moving from guard to center.

Howard at Ohio


Howard shouldn’t be looked down on after going 7-4 last season under first-year coach Mike London. Bison quarterback Caylin Newton, the younger brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, racked up 3,185 yards in total offense.

Marshall at Miami University

3:30 P.M., OXFORD

Miami moved the ball up and down the field last season in gaining 426 yards, but Marshall scored on two kickoff returns and one interception return to win. This time, the key could be RedHawks quarterback Gus Ragland returning and Herd having to replace quarterback Chase Litton and his 3,115 yards and 25 touchdowns passing.

Ohio Wesleyan at Otterbein


Otterbein won last season’s game 36-15 behind 464 total yards and four touchdowns by quarterback Logan Stepp. First-year senior quarterback Steven Irwin, his successor, has played only parts of 12 games over two seasons.

— Mark Znidar