First Look: Cincinnati Bearcats Offensive Skill Players

UCF’s next game will require a trip to Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati to play the Bearcats. Here’s a first look at the nationally ranked opponent.
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ORLANDO - When the Knights travel up North to play the Bearcats, a very balanced and talented skill position group will await them. The Bearcats make big plays while also limiting mistakes.

The orchestrator would be a four-year starting quarterback, and he’s at the controls of an offense that possesses speed and skill at running back, wide receiver and tight end.

Cincinnati Offensive Statistics

Points Per Game: 41.0

Rushing Yards Per Game: 173.4

Passing Yards Per Game: 265.2

Interceptions Thrown: 3

Fumbles/Fumbles Lost: 6/4

Average Yards Per Play: 7.0

Penalties and penalty Yards Per Game: 6.4/44.8

Rushing Attack

The Bearcats primary running back would be Jerome Ford from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood. He originally signed with Alabama and played for the Crimson Tide in 2018 and 2019.

During his first season with Cincinnati in 2020, Ford rushed 73 times, for 483 yards, a 6.6 average, and scored eight rushing touchdowns. He’s off to another good start in 2021.

Through five games, Ford already accumulated 82 carries, 520 yards, 6.3 average, and eight touchdowns. During the game against Temple, Ford toted the football 15 times for 149 yards, 9.9 average, and two touchdowns. To say the least, Ford is explosive. He earned high honors from his coaches for his performance:

The second string running back, Charles McClelland, only carried 13 times for 84 yards, a 6.5 average, and one touchdown. The Bearcats utilize a different kind of second running threat.

Signal caller Desmond Ridder does a great job of running the football. He will take off and scramble, and he’s adept at picking up yards during designed quarterback runs. So far this season, Ridder carried 33 times for 104 yards, a 3.2 average, and three touchdowns. He has been sacked several times, so that goes against his rushing total. Keep that in mind. Ridder is a dangerous runner, especially during short yardage and goal line situations.

Passing Game

Ridder came on strong even as a freshman in 2018 when he threw for 2,445 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His 62.4% passing percentage, as a mere freshman, showed just how smart and physically talented Ridder had already become. 

Fast forward to 2021, and Ridder is doing very well this season. He's in control of the Bearcats and what they do with the passing attack. Best of all, Ridder does not force the football very often.

Ridder’s five-game passing statistics include a 65.5% completion percentage, 1,304 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s averaging 9.0 yards per attempt, which should be considered good.

Most importantly about Ridder’s statistics would be consistency. He’s thrown for at least 210 yards and one touchdown in each of the five games for Cincinnati this season. Additionally, Ridder is clutch. That cannot be shown within statistics very easily, but many of his yards and touchdowns came during critical moments.

Playmakers on the Perimeter

Ridder will spread the football to different players, but he possesses a handful of players that can be really deadly in space. Here are his three most trusted targets from the wide receiver position:

Alec Pierce caught 21 passes for 384 yards, 18.4 average and two touchdowns.

Michael Young, Jr. grabbed 15 passes, 163 yards, 10.8 average, and one touchdown.

Tre Tucker hauled in 11 receptions, 155 yards, 14.1 average, and one touchdown.

At tight end, Ridder also likes to throw the football to Leonard Taylor. At 6’5”, and 250, he can be a prime target in the red zone. Taylor already amassed 12 receptions, 121 yards, 10.0 average and two touchdowns.

Leonard Taylor, Tight End, Cincinnati Bearcats

Leonard Taylor, Tight End, Cincinnati

From this group, any one of them could be the favorite target during a given game, and that’s why Cincinnati can really create chunk-yardage passing plays. It’s difficult to know where the football will go during any given play.

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