Professor Andy’s Midterm Review of the Bearcats

We are halfway through November and your University of Cincinnati Bearcats football team is 7-0, coming off an absolutely dominating 55-17 drubbing of the ECU Pirates.  That feels great to say.  We had very high expectations for this year’s team. Even so, the 2020 Bearcats are still overachieving in just about every single facet of the game, and they are a true joy to watch.

Despite the strange nature of playing college football in the COVID-19 era, pretty much everything else has gone on off without a hitch. There have been a few scary injury moments, such as seeing senior safety James Wiggins go down.  However, the team has played over half the season without suffering many injuries.  The media has actually praised the play of the football team more than hypothesizing about when and where Luke Fickell and Marcus Freeman could leave to coach next year. And the Bearcats are rightfully receiving attention for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.  While it is frustrating that the ranking has not reached the sacred #4, there is a lot of football left to be played, including conference championship games, which could cannibalize the ACC and SEC.

The Cats have wins over two teams currently ranked in the AP top 25. Cincinnati finally avenged their losing streak against Memphis, which feels great, especially after how last season ended.  And the team has absolutely pulverized some of the top talent of the AAC in SMU, Memphis, and Houston, by a combined score of 129-33.  

The Black Cats defense is playing lights out D.  While we knew the secondary would be the backbone of the entire team this season, the defensive line has really stepped up.  The defense is as fun to watch as any other Bearcats squad I can remember.  Mr. Sauce is completely shutting down receivers, allowing the rest of the secondary to focus their resources elsewhere.  James Wiggins is back for his senior year, but quite frankly, the team is playing such great team defense, the Freak does not even stand out like he did early in his career.

And have I mentioned Desmond Ridder?  The father-to-be has found his stride after a bumpy start to the year.  The offense is opening up a bit, allowing him to run more and create chunk plays.  The play-calling is taking the pressure off his arm, such that pinpoint accuracy is not really required for the offense to make strides down the field.  In his last four games, #9 has racked up 886 passing yards and 8 passing TDs and 398 rushing yards and 9 rushing TDs.  The last player to accumulate those numbers currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens and goes by the name Lamar Jackson.  It seems Des’ little notebook he keeps on the sidelines and his competitive attitude are getting in sync at the right time down the stretch.

The backfield is really helping Mr. Ridder out as well, with Gerrid Doaks and the addition of the bruising transfer from Alabama, Jerome Ford.  Doaks is really showing his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.  And if Alec Pierce can stay healthy, Des will have a reliable deep threat receiver to truly stretch out defenses.

With games at UCF, at Temple, and a finale at #25 Tulsa, a potential undefeated regular season is within grasp.  Coach Fickell has done a masterful job keeping the players humble, just focusing on one game at a time.

Who’s ready to see the UC defense face off against the potent pass attack of the UCF Knights this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN?  I know we are here at BSR.

By Andy Smith

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