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Instant Reaction: Bearcats Beat Miami to Keep Victory Bell in Cincinnati

Bearcats start slow, beat Miami 35-13

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1) defeated the Miami RedHawks (1-2) by the final score of 35-13 to keep the Victory Bell in Clifton for a 14th consecutive season. Cincinnati now trails the all-time series by just one game (59-58).

It wasn’t pretty, especially to start the game, but ultimately the Bearcats did what was needed to get the job done and come away with the victory.

Much more to come from Down the Drive from this game but is my instant analysis and observations.

Desmond Ridder will be fine

Throughout the first half, there were a lot of negative tweets about QB Desmond Ridder. Hard to defend some of the tweets, as Ridder definitely struggled. He struggled with decision making and accuracy. It didn’t help that the Offensive Line was a nightmare and his receivers had several drops. Miami came to play early, but Ridder ultimately settled down and made key throws when it mattered.

Here’s the thing with Ridder. I think a lot of his struggles are mental. I think when you know your Offensive Line can’t block and you only have 1-2 seconds to make a decision, it messes with your head and he was clearly rattled. There is probably also some kind of Ohio State hangover. Ridder was terrible in the week 2 loss to the Buckeyes - it was probably the worst game of his football career and he was constantly beat up on every play. That kind of stuff has to weigh on a 20 year old and it seems like he carried that weight into the first half.

Luke Fickell is not going to bench him. He never benched Hayden Moore during Moore’s miserable 2017 run. If he was that loyal to Moore, he will stay loyal to Ridder. There’s also no guarantee that the guy behind Ridder would do any better, in this case Ben Bryant. Bryant would have the same OL issues and the same WRs to throw it to and the same Offensive Coordinator calling the plays.

Mo Egger, of ESPN1530, had a smart take regarding Ridder’s first half struggles

Ridder will be fine. The bye week comes at an opportune time to clear his head and clean up the mistakes.

Offensive Line is a work in progress

I don’t want to be negative, but the Offensive Line stinks. Coming into the game, the coaching staff shuffled some guys around, notably swapping the sides of OTs Lorenz Metz and Chris Ferguson. It didn’t matter much. Ferguson was beat several times and committed a few penalties. LG Jeremy Cooper had a really rough game, committing 4 penalties (3 of which were accepted).

When the second half started, Vincent McConnell replaced Lorenz Metz at RT and it didn’t seem to make a huge difference.

Cincinnati must use the bye week to find a consistent combination of five guys that can play together, remain disciplined and protect Ridder. And not just protect him, but give him the time he needs to make the appropriate reads and make plays.

Keep on Truckin’

Michael Warren had his best game of the season, He ran for 113 yards on 12 carries, but 73 of those came on one long touchdown run (he had 40 yards on 11 carries). He also caught 5 passes (one shy of his career high) for 45 yards (tying his career high). He had the third three touchdown game of his career.

Defense steps up

After a slow start by the defense, they were able to lock down and hold Miami to just 3 points after scoring the first 10 points of the game in the first quarter. Miami converted just 4-14 third downs, and had just 207 total yards. After starting the season 10-10 in redzone scoring conversions, Cincinnati LB Bryan Wright forced a fumble on a sack (fumble recovered by Myjaj Sanders) to hold Miami to their first failed redzone attempt.

Miami’s biggest mistake

Cheerleaders that carry the flags during intros have one job - CARRY THE FLAGS! Unfortunately, Miami carried their most important letter upside down.

It’s ironic, considering the RedHawks haven’t had a W in 14 years against Cincinnati.

Other observations:

  • Tavion Thomas will come in handy. Michael Warren will remain the top RB and the Bearcats most featured weapon by Thomas ran for 65 yards on 12 carries, one week after gaining 58 on 11 yards in mostly garbage time vs Ohio State.
  • Miami QB Brett Gabbert is going to be a problem. Gabbert is a true freshman (the first true freshman to ever start for Miami) so he will see the Bearcats a few more times. He started the game with a perfection completion percentage in the first half, but struggled in the second half.
  • After committing 10 penalties in each of the first two games, Cincinnati committed 11 (!!) for 115 yards. It’s not just that they are committing so many penalties, it’s that they are coming at inopportune times (I mean, is there ever a good time?). False starts, holding, the Bearcats need to use the bye week to clean up these mistakes before they cost them a game.
  • On 4th and goal with 4 minutes to go, Fickell made an odd decision to go for it, rather than a kick a field goal from around the 15 yard line. Given the issues kicker Sam Crosa has had to starter the season (1 miss, 1 block), it would have been nice to help build some confidence.
  • Safety Darrick Forrest really made his presence known, going sideline-to-sideline and being part of seemingly every play.
  • Throwback week was a major success. Jerseys looked awesome. Field, without logos and paint, looked very nice. Just wish it happened a different week as opposed to against a team that also is predominantly red.

More coverage from this win and what’s next for the Bearcats to come throughout the weekend and the week.