In many ways the Bearcats 10-3 loss to Rutgers was a repeat of last season. The Rutgers offense ran the ball right down Cincinnati's throat for 4 quarters. Last year Rutgers had 203 yards. This year Rutgers ran for 235. Savon Huggins ran for 179 yards on 41 carries. The loss drops UC to 7-3, 3-2 in the Big East. Even with miracle scenarios of Rutgers and Louisville losing to bad teams, UC lost to both of them.
The script from last year was followed by the offense as well. Rutgers shut down the running game. 28 carries for 90 yards is all UC could muster. Brendon Kay was forced to air it out. He threw a couple of INTs, one of them was especially crushing, and was generally inaccurate. UC scored 3 points as well, just like last year.
Here are 6 thoughts about the game. I don't feel like doing 10.
Since this bothers me now, Cincinnati should have kicked a field goal with 45 seconds left. The Bearcats had the ball at the 20 and they needed 2 scores. Instead, Kay gets sacked on the next play. They kick a field goal with 15 seconds left. It's a small thing, but it's so annoying when you need 2 scores.
I'm not a fan of Butch Jones' clock management. My biggest problem with him as coach has been clock management. See the Louisville game for more examples.
George Winn had 11 carries for 35 yards. He had 3 carries in the second half. Suffice to say, I'm not a fan of any game plan that gets him 3 carries in a half. RDA IV ran 2 times for 0 yards. Rutgers has the key to the Cincinnati run game. The last 2 years have been incredibly frustrating.
To give the backs some credit, they both had a big impact on the receiving game. RDA was the leading receiver with 52 yards. All 3 of the pass plays to him were great. Winn had a 30 yard reception on a screen. In hindsight, maybe they should have gotten the ball more in the air.
The offensive line was bullied. They have played great and deserve a lot of credit, so they deserve some of the blame for the game today for playing poorly. Rutgers stopped everything. When the game on the line, the line gave up a sack, had a false start and then gave up another sack. Total self combustion at the wrong possible time. Also, as Bearcats Nation pointed out on twitter, Sam Longo fell on the 4th and inches play that Winn got stuffed, which allowed the linebackers to get through scot free.
The defense gave up a lot of yards, but they didn't give up a lot of points. They made 2 huge plays in the red zone. A Rutgers miscommunication on the first drive saw Camerron Cheatham get a red zone INT. Late in the first half, Gary Nova stared into double coverage and was picked by Dominique Battle. Deven Drane tipped the pass a little bit. On top of that, Jordan Stepp blocked a field goal. The defense gave up a lot of yards, but they made a lot of plays when they had to.
Butch Jones talks all the time about 4-6 plays changing the game. One of those plays was the 71 yard pass from Gary Nova to Mark Harrison for a score. It was the only TD of the afternoon. Harrison finished with 106 yards. He had 14 catches for 346 yards and 5 TDs in his 2 games at Nippert. UC killer. The Rutgers run game set up the TD. Arryn Chenault bit on a play action, which left Deven Drane with no help.
I was a little hesitant of jumping on the Brendon Kay train last week because Temple sucks. This game didn't make me feel better. UC has a couple of winnable games left with USF and UConn. Hopefully this will be a good time for Kay or Munchie or Luallen or whoever to get in some good games before the bowl. Everything Munchie had trouble doing, throwing accurately, making good decisions, converting 3rd downs, Kay struggled with as well. Quarterback is something that has to be addressed this offseason.
This was one of the more frustrating games of the season. To me this was worse than Louisville and Toledo. UC got into Rutgers territory 7 times. They scored 3 meaningless points. They couldn't get off the field, yet Rutgers didn't score much. You really feel like UC should have pulled this one out. Hell, you could say that about the other 3 losses. In fact, this game was a summation of the season. Not enough offense and the defense buckled at the wrong time. This one is a bummer. DJ Woods knows how it is.
ESPN box score after the jump.