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Grading the Offense: Week Six

It’s midterms time and the Bearcats are still serving as star pupils.

Tulane v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We’ve reached the halfway mark of the season and the Cincinnati Bearcats are showing no signs of letting up on either side of the ball. They are 6-0 overall and part of that is because the offense is absolutely destroying opposing defenses. Averaging 38.3 points and 467.7 yards of total offense per game, the Bearcats seemingly can’t be stopped.

The offense continued its scorched earth campaign by rolling up a 37-21 win against the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday. Let’s take a look at all the offensive goodness (and the few negative points) from that win.

Quarterbacks

The Good: I am not afraid to say it: Desmond Ridder is a very good quarterback. I hope you were sitting down for that revelation. In all seriousness, Ridder has been exactly what the Bearcats needed under center. He is efficient, takes shots down field and can turn bad plays into positive ones with his ability to escape the pocket. All of those skills were on display against the Green Wave. Ridder completed 15-of-25 pass attempts for 179 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 65 yards and an additional score.

The Bad: Ridder was picked off once and he didn’t reach 200 yards passing. On that last point, he really didn’t need to throw for a ton since the rushing game was so good.

Final Grade: A

Running Backs

The Good: I am also not afraid to say this: Michael Warren is a very good running back. The highlight of the game was his 81-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. He ended up with 123 yards and a score on 18 carries. In addition to his rushing, Warren caught three passes for 34 yards. Warren has 100 yards in four of six games and is well on his way to all-American Athletic Conference honors.

Outside of Warren, the Bearcats also got strong running from Tavion Thomas, as he picked up 59 yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

The Bad: Warren’s final line was great, but if you really want to find something to complain about, he did only rush for 42 yards on 17 carries the rest of the day. Charles McClelland had five carries and only averaged 3.2 yards per attempt. These are both pretty small issues.

Moving on.

Final Grade: A

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The Good: Kahlil Lewis may not have racked up 100 yards or 10 receptions, but he scored two receiving touchdowns and had his fourth-straight game of at least 30 yards following 20 yards combined in the first two contests of the year. Josiah Deguara once again led the team with 49 yards on three catches.

The Bad: The rest of the pass-catchers were all pretty quiet, combining for six receptions and 85 yards. Jayshon Jackson had the most receptions of that group (two for 10 yards) and Thomas Geddis caught one pass for 28 yards.

Final Grade: B

Offensive Line

The Good: Even if McClelland struggled to get big chunks of yardage, the Bearcats still ran for 272 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. The line was also on the field a fair amount, as the Bearcats had 32:33 in time of possession.

The Bad: I guess you could point to three false starts and the two sacks taken by Ridder, but overall the offensive line created room for the running game and let the offense keep doing its thing.

Final Grade: A-

Overall

This was the first game when the Bearcats didn’t dominate in the red zone. They scored on only half of their trips (2-of-4) and just had one touchdown from that range. The third down work was also pretty poor (6-for-16), but the Bearcats got enough big plays to overcome those inefficiencies. They still had 22 first downs and 446 total yards while averaging 6.1 yards per play. That’s more than enough to win most football games, including this one.

Final Grade: A-