If the Bearcats were to give out awards, who would win them? Who would each Cincinnati team award go to next season?
From the season kickoff against Austin Peay until the last whistle blows against Temple, there are certain players that need to step up.
The Bearcats will look to capitalize on the momentum from last years’ historic season. From the division championship to the Birmingham Bowl win over Boston College, there was a lot from last season that Cincinnati wants to keep going.
If certain players perform to their potential, then Cincinnati will have a chance at a College Football Playoff spot this season.
Below are five preseason predictions for Cincinnati team awards. If the team does as well as they should, then the winners of these awards will be very happy with their season performances.
Cincinnati Team Award Predictions for 2020
Offensive Most Valuable Player: Desmond Ridder
Quarterback Desmond Ridder will be starting for a third straight season. With the star tight end and running back in the NFL this year, the Cincinnati award for team MVP is his for the taking.
Ridder’s play during his freshman year warranted a Rookie of the Year Award in the conference. He fought through injuries his sophomore season, so his production declined in 2019. Nevertheless, he was able to help take the Bearcats to their first AAC Championship Game appearance.
Ridder is now the most experienced player on offense. He’s “the guy” now. If things go well, he should be the MVP by a wide margin.
Defensive Most Valuable Player: Ahmad Gardner
Marcus Freeman is getting a pay raise, and for good reason. The Bearcats’ defensive coordinator has put together an exciting defense. There are so many candidates for Defensive MVP: Defensive ends Elijah Ponder and Myjai Sanders, linebacker Jarrell White, and safety Darrick Forrest are all going to stand out.
But Cincinnati’s award for most valuable defender on the team will probably go to cornerback Ahmad Gardner.
Gardner had three interceptions last season, which was tied for second on the team and fifth in the conference. He scored two touchdowns, which was first in the conference. Gardner was one of the best cornerbacks in the conference, and he was only a freshman.
With an extra year of experience, Gardner is going to be a standout cornerback for Freeman’s defense.
Rookie Of The Year: Jerome Ford
There won’t be many fresh faces on the team, so Jerome Ford will stand out.
The redshirt freshman transfer from Alabama has 31 carries, 151 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He even started in Alabama’s season opener last year, and led the team in rushing attempts and yards.
Ford will be the number two back behind Gerrid Doaks, but could easily eclipse 100 touches this season.
Coach Of The Year: Gino Guidugli
If Ridder is going to win Offensive MVP, he’s going to need to take a step forward. He’ll need some help from quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli.
Ridder has so much physical talent, but some good coaching can make a world of difference. That’s where Guidugli comes in.
As the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, it all starts with him. We know Luke Fickell is a great head coach, and the coordinators Mike Denbrock and Freeman are at the top of their game. Guidugli can make a name for himself this season if Ridder improves.
Comeback Player Of The Year: James Wiggins
Safety James Wiggins is returning after missing 2019 with an injury. In 2018, he led the team and was tied for second in the conference with four interceptions.
In his absence, Ja’von Hicks stepped up and performed admirably. The team will have to face some tough snap count decisions between Wiggins, Forrest, and Hicks.
But Cincinnati still has high hopes for Wiggins, and if he plays well he will win the award for the team’s Comeback Player of the Year.