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Mike Boone Season in Review

An injury and offensive staleness made Boone look less explosive than year’s past.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 637 yards from scrimmage
  • 388 rushing yards
  • 3.7 yards per carry
  • 249 receiving yards
  • 20 receptions
  • 2 touchdowns
  • 24.1 yards per kick return

We all know that the 2016 season was a disaster for the Cincinnati Bearcats. The player that may have best encapsulated the downfall of the Tommy Tuberville era was Mike Boone. The running back had been an explosive playmaker in his first two seasons on campus but last year the brutal offensive showing from the Bearcats hurt him the most. While bad playcalling and poor blocking can’t be blamed for all of Boone’s struggles, it certainly didn’t help.

Prior to last season, Boone had a career average of 6.8 yards per carry. He had also racked up nine touchdowns in each of the previous two years and was coming off a career-best 857 yards from scrimmage. Boone did not even enter the neighborhood of those numbers in 2016. His rushing totals were slashed nearly in half (749 yards in 2015 to 388 in 2016) and he found the end zone only two times. His 3.7 yards per carry was difficult to take and watching him struggle to get past the line of scrimmage was a pain each week. Boone is a player that does his best work in space and UC failed continually to give him that chance.

On the bright side, he was a reliable kick returner, averaging 24.1 yards per return on his 21 chances. That was nearly eight full yards more than he averaged as a sophomore. Also, Boone proved to be an adept receiver out of the backfield, setting personal bests in receptions (20) and receiving yards (249). He had 21 and 170 combined in his first two years.

Of course a review of Boone’s season cannot simply ignore the fact that he was injured for the last three games of the season, something that obviously affected the bottom line in terms of production. Still, even when he was healthy, he had trouble getting it going.

The Best of the Best

Sept. 24 vs. Miami (Ohio)

It wasn’t an effort filled with breakaway plays, but Boone was productive in the win over the RedHawks. He rushed for 74 yards on a season-high 19 carries and also scored a touchdown. That came in addition to the 34 yards he had through the air.

Oct. 22 vs. East Carolina

This was the one game where Boone looked like the Boone of old. He racked up 88 yards on only 14 carries (6.3 YPC) and also had a 54-yard catch-and-run, finishing the game with a season-high 142 yards from scrimmage.

For Next Year

Boone was still sharing the backfield with Tion Green this past season, but he will likely get an increased workload now that Green has moved on, especially if we go under the assumption that he will be back to full health. There are recruits coming in to fight for time, but Boone is the No. 1 as spring approaches. A return to form would mean UC has a top tier running back to build around. If he struggles again then the UC offense will have that much more trouble erasing last year’s debacle.