Its beginning to be more and more difficult to write the lead in for these posts since Cincinnati has continually put out the same offense on the field each week. In years past, that would be a good thing, as the Bearcats were known for airing it out and raining yards and points down on opponents. When the opposite is the reality, its difficult to scrounge up more ways to say the offense was bad yet again this week. But that’s where UC is at right now. Let’s break it down by position.
The good: That isn’t a typo above. There were multiple quarterbacks used in this game. Let me throw that into the spin zone to explain why it was good. It showed that UC is trying new things and searching for answers, no matter how difficult they may be to find.
The bad: However, on the negative side, using three quarterbacks usually isn’t a recipe for success. I’ll let Oscar Martinez from The Office sum it up.
Hayden Moore got the start in the game and was not very good. He completed 13-of-25 pass attempts for 129 yards and threw a really terrible interception that set UCF up for a score. Ross Trail took turns with Moore, jumping in through the first three quarters, but only as a change of pace, running a few zone read runs which amounted to seven yards for the freshman. Gunner Kiel closed the game out at quarterback and was equally as unimpressive, completing only 6-of-17 pass attempts for 91 yards. He also was intercepted but that came on UC’s final offensive play when he was just throwing the ball up in the hopes of making something happen as the clock ticked toward zero.
Having three good quarterbacks is a difficult problem to solve. Having three bad quarterbacks is an impossible one.
Final grade: F
The good: Tion Green was a steady, if not exciting, force out of the backfield. He rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries and also caught three passes for 17 yards. Green has a team-high 635 yards on the ground and has had at least 70 yards in three of the last four games.
The bad: We’ll start with something outside of anyone’s control. Mike Boone, the lightning to Green’s thunder, did not play after leaving last week’s game with a leg injury and he appears to be gone for the year. That severely hurts the UC running game as junior Chad Banschbach and senior Deionte Buckley are not nearly the player that Boone is. Buckley got some play, especially in the fourth quarter and rushed for 18 yards on four carries. Banschbach had six yards on three carries and consistently showed an inability to get to the edge. This isn’t a situation where a young freshman played poorly while getting important reps toward his future either. As upperclassmen, Buckley and Banschbach are who they are and that’s not very good.
Final grade: D
The good: Kahlil Lewis got involved early and put together a decent game, showing his play making ability by catching six passes for 84 yards. Tshumbi Johnson brought in a 52-yard reception and finished with three catches for 68 yards. He was more involved than usual, as he got nine targets.
The bad: Once again, multiple receivers couldn’t really make too much of an impact. Even though Johnson finished with 68 yards, if it weren’t for the 52-yard grab, he would have had a forgettable day. Speaking of, Devin Gray (three receptions, 16 yards) and Nate Cole (two receptions, 25 yards) were barely there. Gray just had 105 yards on seven receptions the week before, but Cole has been invisible for the last four weeks, averaging 25 yards and 2.75 receptions per game.
Final grade: D-
The good: The line only committed one penalty.
The bad: Coming up with a good thing to say was tough this week, as the O-line was brutalized by the punishing pressure of UCF. Hayden Moore was sacked five times, which was part of a total of nine tackles for loss by the Knights. Dealing with that type of pass rush was to be expected since UCF leads the American Athletic Conference in sacks (33), but there was little resistance put up despite having that knowledge before the game. The line also didn’t help the run game very much, as UC averaged only 3.0 yards per carry.
Final grade: F
By scoring only three points, UC has now been held out of the end zone in 10-straight quarters. Against UCF, the team didn’t have many chances to end that drought, with only two red zone trips. One led to a field goal, but the second ended with no points, as Kiel threw four incomplete passes from the UCF five-yard line. The Bearcats also continued the trend of having trouble on third down, converting on only 5-of-19 attempts, although they did win the time of possession battle (31:05 to 28:55).
There are two games left to play for UC this season. At this point, there should be a general feeling of dread or, worse yet, boredom at that thought, since the Bearcats offense has not inspired anything but malaise with its low yardage, three-and-out heavy efforts.
Final grade: F