The team had cramps on day 1

WEST HARRISON, Ind. – The University of Cincinnati football team is no longer hiding in the shadows. Having compiled 31 wins over the past three seasons, it’s no secret that the Bearcats are good. Very well.

Because of this, the target of the defending American Athletic Conference champions collective this season will be more important than ever. But team leaders head coach Luke Fickell and fifth-year senior quarterback Desmond Ridder are embracing it.

“The last couple of years we’ve been running, running, running, chasing championships, chasing teams, and now, finally, we have the target on our backs,” Ridder said. “That’s kind of the message that Coach Fick preaches. We have to come and work hard day in and day out because everyone will come for us every game, no matter who we play. They are going to give us 100% every game. . “

Fickell and Ridder led the Bearcats, the pre-season favorite to repeat as AAC Champions, in the field for Friday Fall Camp Practice # 1 at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center. On Thursday night, Fickell kicked off his fifth camp as Cincinnati coach by asking Ridder to address the team.

“There’s a guy coming here for his fourth year who’s played more football here than probably anyone else,” Fickell said of Ridder. “Since he’s been coming here for 21 days, he has things that he has to do personally. When he gets out by August 21, when he gets on that bus to go home, he’ll have to think about what I’m going to. managing team things, we’re going to manage group things, but each guy has to have individual things.

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell addresses his team after the Cincinnati Bearcats spring football scrum on Saturday April 17, 2021 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“I wanted him to get up and tell the team what to do so some guys can see if this guy has things to do, and he’s been here and he’s played a lot and he’s supposed to be that, I know there’s a lot of things that I need to do. What we’re trying to do is stop ourselves from letting our minds get confused and thinking, “Hey, when are we going Get out of here ? Only 19 days or 18 more days. “To start a countdown rather than really focusing on the things we need to do.”

Ridder, the 2020 AAC Offensive Player of the Year, said his goal by the season opener on September 4 at home against Miami State rival University of Miami , was to be specific, to be consistent and to make sure the offensive confidence is where it is needed. to be.

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“It’s the confidence of the 11 guys on the pitch,” he said. “Making sure we’re comfortable in awkward situations. We’re going to be in a lot of important games this year. Some of these guys haven’t played any games or important games, so you just have to be. comfortable in uncomfortable situations. “

Fickell’s goal is to figure out how to turn two teams into one. Fickell said on Friday that UC is currently made up of an older and more experienced squad who are ready to play a “high-end” brand of football, while the other part of the squad is made up of new players. inexperienced who have a long way to go before they are ready for the first game.

“We have younger guys that we have to do a lot of things to try to prepare them because you never know how a season is going to go,” he said. “It’s kind of unique. We have to swing out, we have to roll out and we did that on day one.”

The Bearcats also came out with cramps. Senior defensive end Myjai Sanders, a first-team All-AAC player a season ago and a 2020 Bednarik Award semi-finalist, was just one of many players who needed help out of the game. pitch due to cramping problems.

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Fickell said he wasn’t too worried.

“It’s really not that hot in here, but what people forget is all of a sudden you put on a helmet and then throw anxiety into things,” he said. “You can say anything. I mean, you could say a guy like Myjai Sanders, who played football a lot, but you come in here and all of a sudden it’s a little more intense. It’s not live, but situations are like that. Anxiety rises, and the first thing that wears you out and cramps you up is anxiety. I think all of those things kind of add up. “

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