After a season that most of us could only dream of a few years ago, the Cincinnati Bearcats ended last season with a loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semi-Final at the Cotton Bowl. The Bearcats had 9 players taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. After years of stacking talent, it’s time to see if Fickell’s mantra of “Iron Sharpens Iron” comes to fruition. Desmond Ridder has moved onto the NFL and looks to get meaningful playing time for the Atlanta Falcons after leaving UC as the 3rd all-time Winningest QB in college football history. Alec Pierce and Jerome Ford look to be contributors from day one as well. The Bearcat offense returns more than the defense, but looks to have the biggest changes as Gino Guidugli takes the keys to the offense from Mike Denbrock.
You didn’t really think I was going to bury the lead up front did you? After being a position of strength over the past few years, we enter this season some uncertainty at the running back position. Charles McClelland and Ryan Montgomery return 502 yards and 4 TDs. Former Roger Bacon RB, Corey Kiner decided to come be with his real family after a season at LSU and brings with him 324 rushing yards and 2 TDs in reserve duty. Coach Fick announced in his Game 1 press conference that Ryan Montgomery would get the start for the Bearcats. Redshirt freshman Myles Montgomery was a name that flashed throughout spring camp and fall camp as well. It’s looking like a running back by committee approach this year, but I think Kiner ultimately leads the team in rushing.
A position of strength after Josh Whyle and Leonard Taylor decided to return for their senior years. If Whyle can stay healthy, he’s likely to be the next Bearcat great TE in the NFL. LT is no slouch as well as the two combined for 600 yards and 10 TDs. They’ll provide an excellent safety blanket and mismatch for this season’s QB. Redshirt freshman Chamon Metayer was the workout darling of the offseason and looks to get some snaps with the reserves this season listed 3rd on the teams Unofficial Two Deep.
Alec Pierce has moved on to the NFL and Michael Young made some noise in NFL training camps, but Tre Tucker and Tyler Scott return as the teams leading receivers, totaling 946 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jadon Thompson looks to build off of a freshman year in which he had 208 receiving yards. Incoming Hawaii transfer Nick Mardner brings his 6’6 frame along with 913 yards receiving and 5 TDs last season. Ohio State Transfer Blue Smith finally sees his name on the two deep, will he take meaningful snaps with the offense? True freshman Quincy Bourroughs has made some noise in fall camp, but look for him to get most of his play on special teams.
The key departure from the Offensive Line room is former OL Coach Ron Crook. Crook was replaced by former Central Michigan OL Coach Mike Cummings. Cummings has experience turning rags to riches as he turned former 2 Star Recruit Eric Fisher into a #1 overall pick. Last season he developed Luke Goedeke and former Austrian Tight End Brenhard Raiman into 2nd and 3rd Round NFL Picks. The Bearcats returned all 5 starters from last years squad, but it doesn’t sound like that will be starting the line-up at Arkansas on 9/3. James Tunstall looks to keep his starting LT position and Jake Renfro, one of the best centers of the country, won’t be moving. Dylan O’Quinn has shifted from right tackle to right guard for this season. Incumbents Jeremy Cooper and Lorenz Metz may have been demoted to reserve duty to make way for Gavin Gehardt to take over the reigns at left guard. The biggest surprise of camp, walk-on Joe Huber has played well enough to lock down the Right Tackle position. Speaking of Joe Huber…
— 513shirts․com (@513shirts) August 28, 2022
The moment we’ve all been waiting for this off-season. The biggest question for the Bearcats is who is replacing the 3rd winningest QB in NCAA history. The heir apparent after the team walked off the field in Arlington was Evan Prater, at the time the highest rated Bearcat recruit of all time. The last Bearcat to start a game besides Desmond Ridder has returned to the program after taking a year sabbatical at Eastern Michigan University. Ben Bryant threw for 3100 yards, 14 TDs, and 7 interceptions in his year away from the program. Prater threw for 105 yards and 2 TDs in mop up duty last season. The two QBs had a back and forth Summer and neither was able to separate themselves from the pack. Official prediction – Ben Bryant takes the first snap against Arkansas. I think they run a similar plan to what happened at UCLA in 2018. Bryant is scheduled for the first 2 series and Prater the second set. Will one of them separate from the pack when the lights come on?
A lot of people complained about the offense last year, as Ridder didn’t use his legs as a weapon as often as we’d like. It was one of the most dynamic Bearcat offenses of all time, but seemed to get in it’s own way at times. What kind of offense will Guidugli run in his first season as offensive coordinator? This offense has the potential to be just as productive as last season, but time will tell if Guidugli can have this offense taking the next step.