It doesn’t seem possible that we are already near the halfway point of the season, but somehow we are. In five games, we have learned a lot about this team, although since its Luke Fickell’s first there should be some leeway given.
In week five against the Marshall Thundering Herd, we learned some new things, while other lessons were just reinforced. One of those that fell into the latter category concerned the offense. I wrote yesterday about the offense’s major step back after promising production against Navy. Here’s how each individual position group contributed to a performance that could be called lackluster at best and abysmal at worst.
The Good: You’re kidding, right? If you really need something to be happy about, Hayden Moore did spread the ball around, completing passes to 10 different receivers. But that’s probably because more guys were given a chance in a game that was over at halftime.
The Bad: For six glorious days it appeared that Moore had made adjustments and was finally coming into his own. There’s just no way you could come away from his brilliant performance against Navy without thinking, even if it was just in the back of your head, that Moore was finally ready. That all went out the window during the first half against Marshall when Moore missed pass after pass. He did end up throwing for 211 yards, but not all yards are created equal. When the bulk of his production came as Marshall was content to just sit back and let the game clock run out, that’s a really bad sign.
Final Grade: F
The Good: We got a look at the depth that the Bearcats have in the backfield and what to expect in the Mike Boone-less future. Four different running backs recorded a carry, with Gerrid Doaks, Michael Warren and Jaelen Greene all getting into the game. Doaks did his best in the second half after all runners were disastrous in the first, rushing for 55 yards and a touchown.
The Bad: The Bearcats had nine yards on eight attempts in the first half. That is bad, even if a lot of the blame deserves to be placed on the offensive line as well.
Final Grade: D+
The Good: Devin Gray led the team in receiving yards (68) for the second-straight week and gave the Bearcats one of their few big plays of the day, snagging a 42-yard reception late in the first half. Tight end Josiah Deguara showed that he can be a reliable target as well, tallying a team-high four receptions for 30 yards. Lastly, Javan Hawes got a chance to prove himself and he did quite well, producing 37 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
The Bad: Even though both Gray and Deguara had relatively decent games, each of them had an ugly dropped pass. Kahlil Lewis and Thomas Geddis, who had been the more reliable targets the first few weeks, both had poor outings as well. Lewis had 24 yards on three receptions and Geddis didn’t make a single catch in the game.
Final Grade: D+
The Good: The O-line did not give up a single sack and was only penalized once...
The Bad: ...but that one penalty was a pretty big one, as right tackle Kyle Trout’s personal foul early in the second quarter turned what would have been third and one into third and 16. Additionally, all the struggles with running the football can’t be placed on the running backs. Few, if any, holes opened up for UC’s backs to get through in the first half. Even though the team ended up averaging 5.3 yards per rush, the lasting memory from this game was the clogged front line in the first 30 minutes.
Final Grade: D-
While UC’s run game has not been particularly good most of the season, the complete inability to move the ball on the ground in the first half stopped the offense before it could even get going. Add in Moore’s errant passes and some key drops and you’ve got a recipe for a three-and-out smorgasbord.
Just one week to the day since racking up 439 yards and 32 points against Navy, the Bearcats had 349 yards against Marshall, 265 of which came in the second half. Those yards only came after they dug themselves into a 24-0 ditch by losing two fumbles in the first half and punting on four of their other five possessions. That led to just 5:41 of time with the ball in that opening frame. If you don’t have the ball very often, you can’t score very often, unless your offense is capable of going 70 yards on two or three plays consistently. We’ve clearly seen the Bearcats are not one of those offenses.
Final Grade: F