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Grading the Offense: Week Four

Finally. A passing grade.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The offense lives. It’s unclear whether it is going to keep on living or fall back into a state of hibernation, but for one glorious Saturday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bearcats moved the ball really well, even if they ultimately lost to the Navy Midshipmen.

Hayden Moore threw some passes about and Devin Gray played his best game of the season as the Bearcats tallied up 439 total yards of offense, which was easily the highest mark of the season. Let’s break down how each positional group fared in the treacherous environment of Annapolis, Maryland.

Quarterback

The Good: Let’s save this box score and put it right up on the refrigerator. My god, I didn’t know Moore had it in him. After a brutal first three weeks, the junior signal caller was excellent against Navy, making throws of all distances and consistently leading scoring drives. He threw for 381 yards, which was the second-highest mark of his career, and also racked up three passing touchdowns. He completed 60.9 percent of his passes (28-of-46) and was not intercepted. I can’t emphasize how important that is after he was picked off twice in each of the previous two weeks.

The Bad: There really isn’t much to complain about for once. Moore was splendid, completing passes to 10 different players.

Final Grade: A

Running Backs

The Good: Gerrid Doaks was the starter and he worked hard for every yard he gained, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, mainly inflated by a 21-yard scamper in the third quarter. Doaks also fought off a number of defenders and laid out for a diving touchdown during the game, as he finished with 59 yards on 14 carries, while adding a 19-yard reception as well.

The Bad: Mike Boone was sidelined once again, which is troubling for a number of reasons. First, Boone is a great running back who deserves to play for the entirety of his senior season, not just some of it. Secondly, Boone’s skill set would obviously help the offense, especially considering the Bearcats averaged just 2.5 yards per carry in this game. Even Doaks was stuffed more often than not, as he managed only 19 yards on seven carries in the first half. The ranks at RB also looked shallow, as Michael Warren only rushed the ball three times for five yards.

Final Grade: C+

Wide Receivers

The Good: Devin. Gray. Is. Back. A short pass led to a 46-yard touchdown for Gray in the first quarter and things just built up from there, with Gray ending with 112 yards on six receptions. Gray had 860 yards last season and caught 58 balls. He now has 11 receptions for 171 yards this season, which is obviously off of last year’s pace, but more games like Saturday’s will bring him back toward the production that made him 2016’s breakout star. Kahlil Lewis continued to be a reliable target in the loss as well, matching Gray in receptions while registering 59 yards and a touchdown. On top of that, Thomas Geddis and JJ Pinckney both made some big plays.

It’s also worth noting the solid game from tight end Tyler Cogswell, who turned five catches into 45 yards and a score.

The Bad: I suppose you could say the wealth could have been spread out more, but Gray and Lewis should be getting the Bearcats’ share of passes, so there isn’t much to fault.

Final Grade: B+

Offensive Line

The Good: Moore generally had enough time to pass, which is why there were more passes downfield than usual. He was sacked twice, however. The line was only penalized once as well, helping to keep drives going rather stalling them.

The Bad: A leaky offensive line may be a problem going forward because Doaks and other ball carriers had very little luck, having to do most of the work themselves. Even during Doaks’ touchdown run he was hit in the backfield before escaping to the edge.

Final Grade: C-

Overall

Some suspect offensive line work on running plays can’t take away from the aerial assault the Bearcats put on. Moore looked as good as he ever has, making sharp throws in the short field and showing the courage and arm strength to let it fly deep on more than once occasion. His receivers worked well around him, especially Gray and Lewis, who can take this offense to new heights when they are at their best. While the offensive effort came in a loss, and struggles on third down (5-of-13) certainly didn’t help, the Bearcats have to feel good about where the offense is now.

Final Grade: B+