- 60 tackles
- 1.0 TFL
- 1 interception
After the first four games of this season, Malik Clements was on an incredible trajectory. He played so well I had the audacity to proclaim that he had arrived. I may have been a bit premature with that pronouncement. That’s not to say Clements ended up having a bad year. He was still a key contributor to the Cincinnati Bearcats’ defense. He just didn’t take the leap it seemed he was ready for.
In all, Clements was one of the better tackling players in the secondary, ranking fifth on the team in the category with an even 60 stops. He produced most of those via assisted tackle, with 34 of that variety. He didn’t do much work behind the line of scrimmage, though, with just a single tackle for loss.
In terms of pass coverage, Clements was fine, but not spectacular. He did not have a single pass defended, but was still a solid safety. I’d expect him to once again be a starter next year and that’s a good thing, assuming his progression continues and he can live up to the performances he had earlier this season.
The Best of the Best
Aug. 31 vs. Austin Peay
In this game Clements was unstoppable. Any ball carrier was unsafe around him, as he finished with a career-high 18 tackles in the season opening win.
Sept. 16 at Miami (Ohio)
The Bearcats won the Battle for the Victory Bell primarily thanks to Clements. This was his one and only interception of the season.
Sept. 23 at Navy
Even though UC was bludgeoned by Navy, Clements played a sound game, finishing with 10 tackles. He never had more than six in a game the rest of the season.
For Next Year
If Clements can somehow distill the magic he captured in the first part of this season and keep it in a vial around his neck next season, then the sky is the limit for his skills. The former three-star recruit probably won’t become the next Zach Edwards by any means, but even if he isn’t piling up double-digit tackle games all year, he should still be solid. Keeping that solid production at a consistent level will be the key.