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Grading the Offense: Week Four

A slow start was washed away by a magical finish.

Ohio v Cincinnati Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After the first quarter ended in Saturday’s matchup between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Ohio Bobcats, the Bearcats had a grand total of 20 total yards. They also trailed 14-0 and would go on to fall behind 21-0. That is a pretty horrendous way to start a game.

Despite those shortcomings in the early going, the Bearcats actually ended up having a solid offensive afternoon. If you were to just look at the final score (34-30) and their final yardage total (424), you would think that the offense was clicking on all cylinders from start to finish. While that isn’t entirely true, we can still go a bit deeper and look at the highs and lows of the day.

Quarterback

The Good: If Desmond Ridder isn’t the real deal than I don’t know who is. The redshirt freshman looked completely outmatched early on, but he didn’t let that get to him. After completing just 2-of-8 pass attempts to start, he ended up having a pretty excellent game. He connected on 19-of-29 throws overall, and wound up with 274 yards and two touchdowns. He orchestrated several drives under immense pressure in the second half and even scored on the ground himself.

The Bad: That slow start may not have been lethal this week, but it could have been against another opponent. Ridder can’t afford to dig the team into a hole like that going forward. He was also intercepted once, which is worth a deduction.

Final Grade: B+

Running Backs

The Good: Michael Warren is one of best running backs in the American Athletic Conference. If it wasn’t for Memphis’ Darrell Henderson, he would be No. 1 without a question. Warren has rushed for 435 yards and eight touchdowns already, making him one of three AAC running backs to be averaging more than 100 yards per game. He piled up 124 yards and two scores on 23 carries against Ohio and even put the game-winning points on the board. It doesn’t even matter that he was hit with a penalty for his celebration after. Warren attacked Ohio’s defense all afternoon and came out the victor.

The Bad: UC still hasn’t found a way to give Warren much of a rest. After the showing Tavion Thomas and Charles McClelland had against Alabama A&M, it appeared that they might get a handful of carries as Warren’s backups, but the Bearcats seem content to ride Warren as far as he will take them.

Final Grade: A

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The Good: The Alabama A&M game woke these guys up. While the first two weeks featured pretty uninspired work from the whole unit, the last two weeks have featured much more production. Junior tight end Josiah Deguara had a team-high six receptions for 69 yards, while wide receiver Rashad Medaris led the team with 104 yards on three catches, none bigger than his 77-yard touchdown grab early in the third quarter.

In addition, Kahlil Lewis made a number of tough catches (five receptions, 51 yards), while Jayshon Jackson made the most of his two grabs, securing a spectacular over-the-shoulder touchdown catch.

The Bad: There’s really not a whole lot to complain about here. The Bearcats would very much like that to continue.

Final Grade: A

Offensive Line

The Good: Warren had plenty of holes to run through thanks to the offensive line. UC finished with exactly 150 rushing yards, marking its fourth-straight game of at least that many yards, per UC’s athletic department. Ridder was also not sacked once and Ohio managed only one quarterback hit. While Ridder’s ability to escape pressure had something to do with that, the guys up front certainly made a difference as well.

The Bad: There were a ton of penalties called on both sides in this game, including two holding infractions against UC’s offensive line.

Final Grade: B

Overall

A slow start did not doom the UC offense as much as it could have. Along with 424 total yards, the Bearcats accumulated 24 first downs while converting on 7-of-12 third down tries. They also scored 34 points despite only making it to the red zone twice. They scored touchdowns on both of those drives and have now gotten into the end zone on 14-of-15 red zone trips. Due to the fact they only had a few drives that went all the way through, the Bearcats did face a pretty steep difference in time of possession, accumulating only 24:38 themselves. Apparently that was exactly the right amount of time to rally.

Final Grade: B+