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Grading the Offense: Week One

A lot of players will need to get their report cards signed by their parents.

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Martin at Cincinnati Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that the Cincinnati Bearcats are 1-0. The bad news is they were trailing 7-6 at halftime to an FCS foe in their season opener. The 28-7 win over the Tennesee-Martin Skyhawks taught us a great many things about the team. Now, with a few days to digest those 60 minutes, let’s break down each position group.


The good: Hayden Moore certainly didn’t throw away the key after locking up the starting quarterback job. However, he did complete 61.8 percent of his pass attempts (21-of-34), which was a slight uptick from last season, when he completed 59.4 percent.

The bad: Too many of those 13 incompletions were way off the mark and Moore did not look entirely comfortable, especially in the first half. He also didn’t excel in the area of ball security, throwing an interception and fumbling.

Final grade: D+

Running back

The good: In all, the Bearcats rushed for 140 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Tion Green broke off a 23-yard run and finished with 97 yards on 16 carries. He also contributed 11 yards on two receptions out of the backfield.

The bad: Mike Boone is supposed to be a difference maker but he struggled against one of the weaker defenses he will face this season, managing only 35 yards on 12 carries. For all his heroics, Green also lost a fumble.

Final grade: C+

Wide receiver

The good: The offense’s struggles were felt most in the passing game, which produced only 260 yards. Nate Cole (six receptions, 64 yards, TD) and Devin Gray (five receptions, 111 yards) were the best of the group, with Cole serving as the safety net Moore needed and Gray working in as a big play threat. Avery Johnson also had a sensational catch.

The bad: Even with Cole and Gray playing well, the rest of the group didn’t get a ton of work and because Moore struggled, the receiving unit had trouble getting into a rhythm.

Final grade: B

Offensive line

The good: Moore was only sacked once and the line pushed enough people around to give Green running lanes.

The bad: Although the line played a pretty much clean game, Idarius Ray got committed two penalties, as he was called for holding and tripping during touchdown drives in the second half.

Final grade: B


Under first year offensive coordinator Zac Taylor, the Bearcats looked as if they were still learning and improving. That makes it lucky that they faced UTM in the opener and not an American Athletic Conference foe or someone else from the FBS ranks. It may not be time to totally panic, as the second half proved to be a much better 30 minutes than the first, but with Purdue on the horizon and Houston, fresh off its upset of Oklahoma, less than a week after that, the offense has to get better now.

Final grade: D+