Cincinnati Bearcats (3-1) defeated Marshall Thundering Herd (2-2) in Huntington, West Virginia on Saturday in a 52-14 route.
Bearcats were completely dominant, coming out of the off week strong and firing on all cylinders on the opening drive. Cincinnati scored on 4 of their 5 first half possessions, including an impressive 19 play, 9 minute drive that led to their second touchdown. Cincinnati led 28-0 at the half and were up 45-0 before Marshall finally scored two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Ridder threw 4 TD passes, tying a career high (last year vs East Carolina). Overall, he completed 18-22 passes for 221 yards and for the first time this year, did not turn the ball over. Ridder looked like a completely different quarterback than the one we saw at times vs UCLA and Miami (Ohio State not included). Some of his passes were beautiful too, like the first quarter touchdowns to Rashad Medaris and Alec Pierce.
Why not just bucket the defense as a whole as one big, giant good from Saturday. Obviously there were individual standouts like Ethan Tucky, who consistently pressured the quarterback and had one sack. Michael Pitts recorded his 4th sack of the season. Jarrell White had his best game of the season, leading the team with 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and a pass deflection.
For the 3rd time in 4 games, Cincinnati held their opponent to under 260 yards overall. That’s pretty good. And for three quarters, Marshall didn’t score. They finally broke through against some of the backups in the fourth.
Before the season, there were questions about who would emerge from a young and inexperienced room of wide receivers. Alec Pierce has answered that question. Pierce led the team with 6 catches for 108 yards and a TD in the win. It was his first career touchdown and he leads the team with 277 yards and 14 catches through 4 games.
In week 1, Sam Crosa hit a 40 yard field goal against UCLA. Against Ohio State, he had one blocked and against Miami, he never got a chance. At some point Cincinnati will need to kick field goals. That’s why it was important and encouraging to see Crosa hit a 32 yard field goal in the third quarter, to help build momentum and confidence in a real game situation.
Career and Season Firsts
Junior tight end Bruno Labelle, who is primarily a blocker when Josiah Deguara is on the field, caught his first career touchdown in the second quarter.
WR Malick Mbodj, who missed the first three games with an injury, caught his first pass of the season (12 yards).
WR Blue Smith, the highly touted transfer from Ohio State, also caught his first pass of the season (11 yards).
Michael Kopaygorodsky, a walk on running back, played in the fourth quarter, and ran for 19 yards and capped off the Bearcats final offensive drive with a touchdown.
After piling up 31 accepted penalties in the first three games, Cincinnati had another 9 accepted penalties on Saturday. False starts, holdings, these things continue to plague the Bearcats at the worst times. They have overcome it early in the season against inferior competition, but the level of opponents will increase as they enter conference play.
Can we all agree that this should never happen again? Personally, I prefer watching Netflix on my iPad on an airplane. Not using the iPad to watch football, from the couch. It was tough. What made it worse is the fact that the picture went out and everyone missed Deguara’s second quarter touchdown. Did anyone else have flashbacks to the Temple game last year? Cincinnati nailed a long field goal, but it was waved off because “tv wasn’t ready”. Well, if Deguara scores and no one sees it, does it really count?
It was a terrible viewing experience, but thankfully the product on the field made it worth suffering through. So there’s that.
Cincinnati ran for 230 yards as a team, which is pretty good. Michael Warren II only accounted for 42 of those yards. In 2018, Warren averaged 5.4 yards per carry, a number that is down to 4.3 in 2019. Chalk it up to the offensive line issues. Perhaps teams are scheming to stop Warren more, which on days like Saturday, open the passing game.
Despite the slow start for Warren, Tavion Thomas and Gerrid Doaks are both running well behind him and they are running designed runs for Ridder too. One would think, as conference play begins, Cincinnati will find ways to get Warren into space and create holes for him to exploit.
- Cincinnati dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 37 minutes (to 23 minutes for Marshall)
- Josiah Deguara scored two touchdowns - one reception and one on a fumble recovery at the goal line, making a heads up play to scoop up the ball and score
- Tre Tucker, a freshman WR with blazing speed, caught a 56 yard pass in the second half for his longest play of the year. Cincinnati coaches need to continue to find creative ways to get Tucker on the field.