Cincinnati goes into the 2016 season relatively optimistic about it's offense. Finishing the season 6th overall in offensive yardage per game will make any head coach and offensive coordinator happy, but knowing that the guy who lead the charge under center will be back as well makes them gleam with joy. The Bearcat offense was one of the most dynamic and dominant in the country, finding a way to balance the run and pass while putting up video game numbers on the scoreboard.
They will return the two players who started games for them this season in Gunner Kiel and Hayden Moore. Kiel spent the majority of the season as the starter with Moore filling in when he was injured or making poor decisions. The question on everyone's minds has to be if Kiel can take steps into becoming an elite quarterback by refining his decision-making, learning how to stay calm in the pocket, and maintaining proper passing mechanics so he can make better down-the-field throws. If he is unable to prove to the coaching staff that he has grown, will we see Hayden Moore step into the spotlight?
Here are my conclusions and takeaways from last season and predictions going into next.
Gunner Kiel - 2015: B-, 2016: B+
He had games where he looked like one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the country at times, but then he would have games where he looked like a youth league quarterback throwing over an oversized offensive line. He was unpredictable and irrational under pressure, which often left fans scratching their heads wondering what on earth he was thinking. Despite all this, he was fairly successful on the season.
He finished with 2,777 yards passing along with 19 touchdowns. He managed to complete 65.2 percent of his passes, but he also threw 11 interceptions. Nothing on here stands out as horrific, but the interceptions, as we noted, were costly. Hopefully, as a player, he takes significant strides in preparing himself for the next level and leading Cincinnati the way everyone expected him to this year.
Hayden Moore - 2015: C-, 2016: C
He had one game where he looked like Tom Brady on the field, slinging the ball for 557 yards and four touchdowns, but after that it was all a mess. He finished the season with 1,885 yards, but as it was noted, a third of them came in one game. His touchdown total for the season was ten, but it also included 11 interceptions. Exclude his one career game, and he has a ratio of 6-11. That is not very good. He appeared in seven of the Bearcats' games this year and was still roughly 1,000 yards behind Kiel.
He shows promise heading toward the future, but he is still a raw and young quarterback who needs to be developed. Moore is most definitely the future, but he is certainly not the present. All of this being said, he still might need to start looking over his shoulder because Ross Trail is on his way up.
Others on the Roster
Ross Trail and Sam Fette both received redshirts this past year. Trail was a highly sought after four-star recruit in high school and chose the Bearcats over other significant competition heading into signing day. He is more or less the most exciting player the Bearcats have to look forward to.
Meanwhile, in the 2016 recruiting class the Bearcats are bringing in Jake Sopko, an Ohio native who went to Avon High School, and received a two-star rating. Sopko is likely to be redshirted this year and likely won't see the field anytime soon.