Now that the Cincinnati Bearcats have been officially eliminated from bowl contention, the rest of the season will be for developing players and strategy. In the last “meaningful” game of the season, the Bearcats lost 35-24 to the Temple Owls, falling to 3-7 in the process. However, that doesn’t mean evaluations of player performance will come to an end. Luke Fickell and his staff are building something, and to do that they need to make sure the foundation is sound. Let’s take a look at what could be taken away on the offensive side, both positive and negative, from this most recent game.
The Good: For the second week in a row, Hayden Moore avoided the interception bug, as he did not throw one while completing 20-of-36 pass attempts for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards on 11 carries and even caught a pass. This doesn’t mean Moore is turning into the super quarterback that will lay waste to the college football landscape, but with five touchdowns, one pick and 820 total yards (654 passing, 166 rushing) over the last three games, he may finally be finding a rhythm.
The Bad: While he did not make any mistakes in terms of interceptions, Moore only completed 55.6 percent of his passes after connecting on a season-high 66.7 percent the previous week. In addition, while he was not picked off, he still had some mistakes, including a lost fumble.
Final Grade: C+
The Good: Mike Boone is back! At least on a limited basis. While he only had nine attempts, Boone rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He also caught a touchdown pass and completed a four-yard throw to Moore, although I don’t think he’ll be pushing Ross Trail for the backup QB role anytime soon.. Michael Warren also got work and was relatively effective, averaging an even 4.0 yards per carry en route to 40 total yards on the ground.
The Bad: Gerrid Doaks has been in the midst of a breakout season but he suffered an injury in this one and only ran the ball four times. He is currently listed as questionable for the team’s next matchup against East Carolina.
Final Grade: C+
The Good: Kahlil Lewis returned to the top of the box score, catching five passes for 84 yards. It was a nice bounce back for Lewis, who leads the team in receptions (53) and receiving yards (528). He has had at least five catches in six games this season and had at least 70 yards four times. However, he hasn’t had a touchdown since week four against Navy. I guess that belongs in the bad section. Let’s pretend it’s there. Speaking of touchdowns, Thomas Geddis caught his second in the last three weeks and had at least 40 yards receiving for the fourth time. That’s not incredibly impressive, but isn’t bad for a UC offense that isn’t eating up yardage. Devin Gray also had 50 yards on three catches.
The Bad: There were only 21 receptions overall, and running backs/quarterbacks accounted for seven of those. Tyler Cogswell had three receptions for only 16 yards at tight end, while Geddis, Gray and Lewis were the only wideouts to really be involved. JaQuay Savage’s four-yard reception was the only other completed pass to a wide receiver.
Final Grade: D+
The Good: Going up against a team that is tied for the lead in the American Athletic Conference in sacks, the Bearcats really did a good job protecting the passer against Temple. Moore was only sacked once and Temple only had three tackles for loss. Additionally, there was enough push up front to allow a 5.3 yards per carry average from the backfield. There were also very few penalties against the line, with Kyle Trout’s holding infraction in the first quarter the lone misstep.
The Bad: This was a largely strong game for the line, which kept Moore safe, made room for the running game and didn’t get the team penalized much.
Final Grade: B+
Cincinnati is still last in the AAC in total offense, but it got more than 400 yards of total offense again this week, although just barely (405). While penalties were not a big encumbrance, there was a 12 men on the field call against UC, which is something that should never happen. Getting back to more positives, there was marked improvement on third down, with UC going 9-of-18 in such situations. However, there were not enough sustained drives, with the Bearcats getting into the red zone twice. So, in all, it was a clean effort but not the most effective one.
Final Grade: C