Cincinnati Bearcats College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Cincinnati Bearcats Biggest Key: Offense
A few more big pass plays would be nice. The turnover problem wasn’t that bad. The 16 were too many, but most came early in the season. The mistakes turned out to be a steady drip rather than a flood, but it would still be a plus to tighten up a bit.
There wasn’t wasn’t that huge of an issue with the downfield passing game. It was fine, and there were several big shots here and there, but averaging just 12 yards per completion and eight yards per attempt weren’t among the elite.
Cincinnati has the quarterback in Desmond Ridder, and it has the receiving corps to stretch the field. Part of the design is to not take any crazy chances and hit the throws that are there – and again, this isn’t a huge deal other than to nitpick.
However, there were four games when the Bearcats averaged six yards or fewer per throw. Overall, the downfield passing game was the best it’s been in years – it might need to be better to beat the top teams on the slate.
Cincinnati Bearcats Biggest Key: Defense
Gear up for the better passing teams – but there aren’t a ton of them.
The pass rush should be fine, and the corners are tremendous, but the safeties might take a wee bit to live up to the high-standards set by last year’s group.
There shouldn’t be too many worries for most of the season. Cincinnati should be among the nation’s statistical leaders in pass defense, partly because a whole slew of teams on the slate aren’t going to throw all that often.
There weren’t problems last year with SMU, and the win over Memphis was a relative breeze even after giving up a ton of yards, but UCF was effective through the air in the 36-33 UC win and JT Daniels went off for over ten yards per throw in Georgia’s bowl victory.
The season should come down to road games at Notre Dame and Indiana along with the home game against UCF. If the pass D locks down in those three games, everything else should be a relative breeze.
Cincinnati Bearcats Key Player To A Successful Season
OT James Tunstall, Jr.
Or John Williams, or Lorenz Metz, or whoever ends up seeing time at left tackle in place of all-star James Hudson.
The Cincinnati pass protection was fine. It statistically wasn’t great only because Desmond Ridder ran a ton, but it was good enough to make the O go. The Bearcats lose both tackles – Hudson was the star of the line – and now the hope is for someone to step into the role and be more than just competent.
The 6-5, 305-pound Tunstall is transferring in from Stony Brook after starting out at UConn. He’s a tackle, but if he can fit somewhere else up front, that opens up the possibilities to shift things around as needed.
Cincinnati Bearcats Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Indiana, September 18
Winning the American Athletic Conference again and going to another New Year’s Six bowl game is the far more realistic goal than breaking through the College Football Playoff glass ceiling – even an unbeaten Cincinnati doesn’t control its own CFP fate.
But to even be in the discussion for the really, really big dream, the Bearcats have to win everything. They have to win the AAC title again, and they have to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. First, they have to get by an Indiana team that should be every bit as strong as 2020.
Win in Bloomington, and then the national attention will ramp up a few notches.
2020 Cincinnati Bearcats Fun Stats
– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Cincinnati 121 – Opponents 49
– 4th Down Conversions: Cincinnati 10-of-14 (71%) – Opponents 9-of-24 (38%)
– Penalties: Cincinnati 88 for 768 yards – Opponents 57 for 553 yards