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Grading the Offense: Week 10

Scoring three points is not what you’d call good.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Its ironic that Tommy Tuberville would tell a fan to “go to hell”, when watching the Cincinnati Bearcats offense this past week was what I imagine hell might be like. A week after being throttled by Temple, UC managed to pick up a few more yards against BYU on Saturday, but 295 is not going to win you games unless you are employing the greatest defense known to man. As great as Eric Wilson is, UC does not have that benefit.

Therefore, another sorry offensive showing doomed the Bearcats to yet another setback, as they lost a 20-3 decision in another game of uninspiring drudgery that dragged on toward an inevitably negative conclusion.

Another ironic comment made by Tuberville came at halftime, when he essentially laid the blame for the Bearcats problems at the feet of his players.

While Tuberville may have gone a bit far, the players on offense do deserve some of the blame. Let’s break it down.

Quarterback

The good: Gunner Kiel made his third-straight start and recorded a season-best in completion percentage (59.4).

The bad: Even though he completed a higher percentage of passes than his first two starts, Kiel still looked bad. He made a number of errant throws, overthrowing a number of receivers, including one that was so far over his target’s head that it traveled several yards further and landed in BYU’s Austin McChesney’s hands. Kiel posted an efficiency rating of 105.36, which was the lowest mark he has had in a start this season. He also failed to reach 200 yards passing for the second-straight game.

Final grade: F+

Running backs

The good: Tion Green was very solid. He pounded through limited running lanes and fought for extra yardage, finishing with 82 yards on 16 carries. He also ranked second on the team with five receptions for 22 yards.

The bad: Mike Boone had a 15-yard run on his first carry of the game, but he missed most of the game after being taken off the field with a lower body injury. Obviously the injury is not his fault, but losing a player with Boone’s talent really hurt and could continue to do so, as Chad Banschbach didn’t look particularly effective as the second back behind Green (four yards on two carries).

Final grade: C-

Wide receivers

The good: Devin Gray was the only receiver Kiel seemed to have any rapport with, as the JUCO transfer hauled in seven passes for 105 yards. However, that work was unevenly distributed. Gray had three catches for 54 yards in the first quarter and then was held without a catch until the Bearcats’ final drive when he brought in four passes for 51 yards.

The bad: Despite solid numbers, Gray still made mistakes. He had a bad drop and was also flagged for a false start in the fourth quarter, halting a drive that had gone into BYU territory thanks to 46 rushing yards from Green. Nate Cole and Kahlil Lewis did pretty much nothing. Play calling and bad work from Kiel had something to do with it, but the fact that the two had two combined receptions, and none until the third quarter, is not a positive for the receiving corps.

Final grade: D

Offensive line

The good: Kiel was only sacked two times. It was a nice improvement from last season when the Cougars racked up eight sacks on Hayden Moore. The line also committed just one penalty, a false start against Ryan Stout in the third quarter.

The bad: Despite Green’s best efforts, UC still didn’t have an exceptionally strong game on the ground, averaging 3.8 yards per carry as a team, while consistently running plays that involved a handoff out of the shotgun that ended soon after. Green frequently had to fight through tacklers right at the line or before to even grind out a few yards.

Final grade: D-

Overall

The offense’s biggest problem was staying on the field. Even the first drive, which spanned 59 yards and ended in the field goal that amounted to the Bearcats’ only points of the game, lasted less than three minutes. Too many three-and-outs kept the team from finding any rhythm on offense and put tons of pressure on a tired defense. In all UC converted on just 4-of-13 chances on third down, turned only 1-of-3 red zone trips into points and had a total of 22:03 in terms of time of possession. French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in his play No Exit that “hell is other people.” Mr. Sartre may have changed that line if he ever had to watch the offense of the 2016-17 Bearcats.

Final grade: F