Allowing 305 yards of total offense and 17 points is a strong day for a defense and its just what the Cincinnati Bearcats’ unit did against the UCF Knights on Saturday. However, a defensive touchdown from the Knights and a sputtering mess of offense from UC led to a 24-3 loss. Of course there were some things UC could have done better defensively, but in general it was a solid day at the office. Let’s take a look at each position group.
The good: Against a UCF team that is built on running the ball, the Bearcats did a solid job of containing rushers and closing running lanes. UCF only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, even if it did rack up 155 yards on the ground. Leading rusher Dontravious Wilson had the most trouble with the Bearcats up front, finishing with 23 yards on 10 carries. Cortez Broughton also broke through for a sack. He now has 2.5 on the year. Marquise Copeland had six tackles and a quarterback hit, with Alex Pace and Kevin Mouhon each recording one as well.
The bad: Broughton’s sack was the only one of the game for UC, while the Knights piled up five on their side. Additionally, while Wilson was kept in check, Jawon Hamilton had a nice day on the ground, rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts.
Final grade: C+
The good: Eric Wilson was Eric Wilson once again, finishing with 10 tackles, although none came for a loss. The American Athletic Conference leader in tackles now has 104 this season and his seventh double digit tackle performance of the campaign. However, he had managed only 13 total in the previous two games. Mike Tyson also returned to action and was effective, recording nine tackles, including one for loss.
The bad: There were a few missed tackles from the linebackers and the defense as a whole. Additionally, the front seven had trouble stopping the pass, as UCF’s McKenzie Milton didn’t throw down field very often, but did complete a fair number of passes close to the line of scrimmage.
Final grade: B-
The good: Safety Zach Edwards had a team-high 12 tackles and nearly collected his second interception in as many weeks. Carter Jacobs filled in at safety for the injured Tyrell Gilbert and did fairly well, recording eight tackles. Additionally, Grant Coleman had a pass breakup. Milton also did not risk throwing downfield on the ballhawking Bearcats, as he accumulated only 150 yards on 22-of-34 passing, averaging only 4.4 yards per attempt.
The bad: In general the secondary was not heavily tested, which meant there were not a lot of glaring issues on the stat sheet, but Milton’s completion percentage wasn’t just the fault of the linebackers, even if his throws were of the shorter variety.
Final grade: B
The 305 yards the Bearcats gave up was a season-low, which is very good. They certainly bent at times, allowing UCF to convert on 7-of-18 red zone trips, but they rarely broke, with the Knights scoring just one touchdown in a mere two red zone trips. On the negative side, they did not do very much in creating pressure and also failed to force any turnovers, which could have shifted momentum and kick started the offense. However, even a few turnovers wouldn’t solve the stagnant play of the offense, so the defense shouldn’t be roasted for not coming up with a loose ball here or there. Obviously the problems with UC run deeper.
Final grade: B-/C+