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Grading the Defense: Week Five

A 42-point win is not just a symptom of good offense.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The offense got most of the attention on Saturday. That’s what tends to happen when a team scores 49 points and puts together more than 600 total yards. But let us not be remiss and ignore the defensive dominance on display for the Cincinnati Bearcats in their week five win over the UConn Huskies.

Things did not start off on the right foot, as UConn’s Kyle Buss caught a five-yard touchdown pass from David Pindell less than two minutes into the game, allowing UConn to take a 7-0 lead. From there, the Bearcats completely baffled the Huskies. Let’s take a look at each positional group and how they helped shape a convincing win.

Defensive Line

The Good: We covered it a bit during this week’s three stars feature, but senior defensive end Kimoni Fitz had his breakout game of the season. He finished with a team-high 2.5 tackles for loss and even had five total tackles, which ranked second on the team. Sophomore Ethan Tucky and freshman Malik Vann also combined on the Bearcats’ only sack of the game. Marquise Copeland only had one tackle, but it did go for a loss. while normally mobile UConn quarterback David Pindell was limited to 22 rushing yards.

The Bad: As was a theme for the whole unit, the defensive line was hit with a lot of penalties. The defensive line was called for three fouls: a false start from defensive tackle Jakari Robinson, an illegal use of the hands from Marcus Brown and a personal foul from Curtis Brooks. In addition, while Pindell was contained, the Bearcats only produced the one sack.

Final Grade: A-


The Good: Perry Young returned after missing the previous game. His return featured a team-high eight tackles. Jarell White played a strong game as well, recording a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit, while his fourth quarter interception stopped UConn in the red zone. In general, the tackling from the linebackers was better this week than against Ohio.

The Bad: While getting Young back was obviously a good thing, the junior had a tough time avoiding penalties. He was called for three infractions and all for pretty substantial yardage. Bryan Wright also got tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Final Grade: A-

The Seondary

The Good: UConn was only able to complete 14-of-36 pass attempts for 181 yards. The secondary clearly did a great job of shutting down the passing game. Cam Jefferies and Marquis Smith each had two tackles and a pass breakup. Freshman Ja’Von Hicks showed that the safety position is well stocked for the future, as he had four tackles, which ranked third on the team. Starting safeties James Wiggins and Darrick Forrest combined for six stops.

The Bad: A couple penalties against Tyrell Gilbert and Noah Hamlin were all that held the secondary back.

Final Grade: A


What UC did against UConn is the expectation for this unit. The Bearcats only allowed 282 yards of total offense and an average of 4.4 yards per play. The Huskies had to punt six times and only had the ball for a little more than 23 minutes of game time. UC kept that time of possession short by locking things up on third down, with UConn successful on just 3-of-13 tries. UC also had great red zone defense, allowing just one score in three attempts.

Final Grade: A