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Grading the Offense: Week Two

It’s tough to pick up yards and score points in the pouring rain.

Cincinnati v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

This week we really need to grade on a curve. It’s tough to imagine any offense would have been able to produce a ton of yards and points at Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday. The Cincinnati Bearcats did enough in a 21-0 victory against Miami-Ohio, but tons of rain didn’t help.

Even in the rain, the image of just what the Bearcats’ offense will be this year continues to become clearer. They are going to run the ball and run it often, while relying heavily on whichever running back is playing the best or, in this case, the healthiest. Let’s take a deeper dive into the offense’s successes and failures in week two.

Quarterback

The Good: Desmond Ridder made his first collegiate start, so a big congratulations to him. The redshirt freshman’s biggest contributions were on the ground, as he led the team with an even 100 yards rushing. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry, had a long run of 39 yards and wasn’t sacked once. He also threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Deugara.

The Bad: Taken with a big grain of salt since the rain made passing almost impossible at times, but Ridder did not exactly light it up threw the air. Other than that Deugara touchdown strike, Ridder made very few plays via the passing game. He completed only 6-of-11 attempts for 45 yards. Such production can be excused partially due to the conditions, but as good as he’s been, Ridder still has to get better.

Final Grade: C

Running Backs

The Good: Michael Warren has already scored five touchdowns this season, adding two more in the win against the RedHawks. Both were fairly short plunges into the end zone, but Warren’s early relish for putting points on the board has been a huge driver for the offense. Warren didn’t lead the team in rushing, but he still managed a very solid 91 yards while carrying a tremendous amount of responsibility, as he ran the ball 29 times. Tavion Thomas was the only other running back to get a carry, turning his one chance into three yards.

The Bad: Gerrid Doaks remained sidelined, which is bad in of itself, but the fact that Warren is running so much means getting back their other premiere back would be very beneficial going forward. In terms of actual play, Warren had a nice final line, but he averaged only 3.1 yards per carry. Once again, messy conditions made making cuts and darting in and out of trouble more difficult, so this isn’t a huge deal.

Final Grade: B

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The Good: You’ll notice that this category has an updated title. UC tight ends have been largely invisible for the last few years, capturing a handful of receptions here or there but being more meaningful as blockers. This week, Deguara was the leading receiver and by quite a bit. He brought in Ridder’s one touchdown pass and finished with four receptions for 34 yards. Through two games, Deguara leads the team in receptions (six), receiving yards (44) and touchdown grabs (one).

The Bad: You can’t really blame the wideouts for not getting a lot of chances. After all, UC only threw the ball 11 times. Still, the fact that every non-Deguara target managed all of two receptions is not indicative of strong wide receiver play.

Final Grade: D+

Offensive Line

The Good: Blocking for Ridder must make life a bit easier because when things break down, the signal caller can escape the pocket. But that doesn’t mean the fact that the Bearcats’ offensive line didn’t give up a single sack is entirely due to Ridder’s elusiveness.

The Bad: UC was flagged for eight penalties which cost it 86 yards. The offensive line was guilty of a number of those infractions, being called for two false starts, two holding penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct. Miami also got in for four tackles for loss and the Bearcats only averaged 3.7 yards per carry, even with Ridder’s running.

Final Grade: C-

Overall

The Bearcats finished with only 233 yards of total offense. Yes, the rain slowed them down quite a bit, but that’s still not a great number, especially after they just barely got past 300 against UCLA. There is still work to be done in improving this side of the ball. Positives like winning the time of possession battle (32:51-27:09) and turning all three red zone trips into touchdowns, were soured by weak play on third down (6-of-15) and the lack of yardage. For now we’ll chock it up to the rain, but in the weeks to come, there needs to be real progress shown.

Final Grade: C-