CINCINNATI— The Bearcats made it easy in their 21st straight home win over Kennesaw State 63-10.
They didn’t tighten everything up, but the Bearcats left no doubt about their standing against a solid FCS opponent in the Owls. Ben Bryant and the rest of UC’s passing offense staged a hyper-efficient outing.
They took over from a hungry defense that forced two turnovers and both came back for touchdowns.
It is UC’s fourth performance of the Luke Fickell era with at least 56 points and is tied for the most points during that span. A different Bearcat scored each of the nine touchdowns on Saturday.
Let’s dive into the final huddle of UC’s 28th straight home win.
The Blackcats were roughed up on the ground last week against Arkansas, but they turned the tables against KSU. Every 1-11 player played locked in and never gave up on this triple option attack.
Ivan Pace Jr. again led the way with 11 tackles (one for loss) and a forced fumble. He was one of six Bearcats to make at least one tackle for loss. Add the two turnovers returned for the scores, and it’s hard to ask for a much better performance after struggling towards the end of last week’s game.
The triple option stop starts with the back dive stop, and UC had the perfect duo for the job. Jowon Briggs and Dontay Corleone combined for 14 tackles and 1.5 TFLs in the afternoon and were there to meet nearly every inside running back for KSU right on the line.
Block rushes are essential to keep a triple option player alive. UC allowed a 10+ yard run all day. Overall, the UC defense kept KSU to 142 rushing yards, snapping the Owls’ 73-game streak of at least 150 rushing yards dating back to 2015.
The UC opponent averaged 3.3 yards per play on Saturday, which would have tied for last place on the FBS in 2021.
Blistering Bryant, Performing Prater
UC brought both quarterbacks into the game Saturday, but there’s no QB controversy at Clifton. Bryant (17 of 20 for 201 yards and three touchdowns) made sure to start strong this week, picking up a pace early on.
The transfer did a good job of progressing through his reads, taking what the owls gave him and cutting things along the way for an 85% completion rate. It was the highest completion percentage of his career (min. 15 attempts).
Bryant led UC to a 3-on-3 performance in the red zone and hit its two best tight ends (Josh Whyle and Leonard Taylor) for touchdowns early in the game. He and Prater combined to go 4-for-4 on passes from 5 to 14 yards and 5-for-7 on deep passes (over 15 yards).
Speaking of Prater, he looked like he could replace Bryant and not let the offense miss a beat if needed. He showed his dual-threat talent as he went 4-of-5 for 92 yards and stayed untouched on a 44-yard QB guard.
The best 2020 UC rookie was precise, balanced and effective in an opportunity he eagerly took advantage of. Both QBs performed exactly what the fans wanted against inferior competition.
Penalties keep popping up
Saturday ended with a great day for UC as they took full advantage of their athletic advantage. Yet the mental game was still lacking at times, as UC committed ten penalties for 90 yards.
That marks UC’s fourth-most single-game penalty yards since 2020. Some of them canceled big plays in scenarios that won’t be as easy as they were on Saturday. Two games and UC committed ten penalties in each game.
That’s currently tied for 83rd nationally and would have led the entire country last season by 0.2 penalties per game. Many of them were mental errors that can be cleaned up, but the cleaning must take place first. Errors had little effect on Saturday’s result, but we saw the impact in week one, and that’s a big reason why UC are 1-1 not 2-0 as we turn to battle for the Victory Bell.
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