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Grading the Offense: Week Eight

Not only was this the first loss of the season, it was the first time the offense looked out of sorts.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew that the Temple Owls could play defense. They certainly showed that on Saturday, as the Cincinnati Bearcats had more than a few problems on offense, an issue that really hadn’t come up much during their sprint to 6-0. Now that UC is in the wake of its first loss of the campaign, its time to look at what went wrong on offense, as well as the few things that went right.

Quarterback

The Good: Desmond Ridder finally looked like a redshirt freshman this week. Despite that, he still showed resilience by continuing to throw the ball and try to make plays down the field. I know that’s not much, but it indicates that his first bad game of the season won’t cause him to crumble.

The Bad: Obviously we were grasping at straws a bit in the section above because this was a dismal game from Ridder. The Bearcats’ starting quarterback only completed 14-of-33 pass attempts, lost a fumble and was intercepted on the last play of the game. Normally, Ridder has been able to make up for any passing shortcomings with his ability to run, but even that was subdued. Part of it was pressure from Temple’s defense, as he took three sacks, but he only rushed for 42 yards when you take out any lost yardage. This was clearly Ridder’s worst game of the season. The hope is that it will be a learning experience that helps him improve.

Final Grade: D-

Running Backs

The Good: This was the only part of the offense that worked. It’s why Michael Warren is very much the MVP of this team, at least offensively. Warren rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. In a game when the Bearcats only scored 17 points, they needed every one of those yards.

In addition to Warren’s fifth 100-yard game of the season, UC also got a breakout effort from freshman running back Charles McClelland, who carried the ball four times for 70 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the Bearcats up 17-10. All told, the Bearcats rushed for 200 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and that’s including the big losses from Ridder. The run game works and the Bearcats should continue going to it.

The Bad: For as great as he played, Warren did make a mistake late in the game, as a fumble in overtime led to an 11-yard loss and was the beginning of the end for UC’s chances at escaping with a victory.

Final Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The Good: With only 111 passing yards to go around, the Bearcats did not get a ton of production from their pass-catchers. The tight end spot continued to be a major source for the aerial strategy, with Josiah Deguara and Bruno Labelle each catching three passes.

The Bad: Despite those three receptions, the two tight ends only accounted for 52 yards combined, while Rashad Medaris (two catches, 15 yards) was the only receiver to have more than one reception.

Final Grade: D

Offensive Line

The Good: Warren was excellent (except for that fumble) and he didn’t do it alone, as the guys up front provided some good running lanes. Perhaps not consistently enough, but they were still there.

The Bad: The most obviously egregious miscue was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from senior Dino Boyd in overtime. It occurred right after an incomplete pass forced the Bearcats into a third-down situation and pushed the team back even further than it already was, turning an already improbably third-and-21 into a third-and-36. Ridder was intercepted on the next play and the game was over.

In addition to that poorly timed penalty, the Bearcats allowed three sacks to Ridder and plenty of other instances when pressure created bad passes.

Final Grade: D

Overall

There were some positives to be gleaned from this mostly bad effort. The running game was still solid and UC was much better on third down (7-for-19) than Temple (4-for-17). However, a measly 311 yards of total offense and a complete failure in the red zone (0-for-2), led to very few points in a game where the margin for victory was razor thin. It didn’t help that Cole Smith missed three field goal tries in the game, but the offense didn’t help itself much either.

Final Grade: D