Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Cincinnati Bearcats season with what you need to know.
2018 Record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in AAC
Head Coach: Like Fickell, 3rd year, 15-10
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CINCINNATI OFFENSE
– The Bearcat offense scored 203 more points than the 2017 version – finishing fourth in the AAC in both yards and scoring – and now all of the skill stars are back.
Sophomore QB Desmond Ridder had a fantastic first season completing 62% of his passes for 2,445 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five picks. He can run a little, too. With 6-4, 212-pound size and a year of experience, he’s expected to be even sharper. The backup situation, though, is shaky with Hayden Moore done. 6-3 redshirt freshman Ben Bryant got in a little work last season, but it’s Ridder or bust.
– The running back situation is fantastic. Michael Warren was a breakout star with 1,329 yards and 19 scores, and now he has more help around him. 2017 top rusher Gerrid Doaks is back after missing all of last year hurt, and last year’s No. 2 running back Tavion Thomas and No. 3 Charles McClelland – they combined for close to 1,000 yards – are back. There’s a great mix of power and speed in the group. However …
– Only one starter is back on an O line that was great at keeping defenses out of the backfield and wonderful at pounding away for the ground game. The line would’ve had a strong left tackle in Michigan transfer James Hudson, but he lost an appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility – UC is fighting this – but there’s good size on the outside. Senior Morgan James is a decent right guard to rebuild around.
– The receiving corps is fine despite the loss of top target Kahil Lewis. 5-11, 177-pound speedster Rashad Medaris averaged over 18 yards per catch, and sophomore Jayshon Jackson came up with 23 grabs. However, the O needs a true No. 1 target. The tight end situation is fantastic with 6-3, 240-pound senior Josiah Deguara back after finishing second on the team with 38 catches and five scores. There’s great depth behind him.