Cincinnati is heading into the off week a solid 3-0.
Both the offense and the defense have been rolling, outscoring opponents 85-30 in their three games.
The closest game so far was against Army, which was the only real test of this young season. The Bearcats defeated the Black Knights 24-10 with the only touchdown against off of a turnover.
This first quarter of the season has been fairly easy compared to what’s coming. In the next four games, Cincinnati will face Tulsa, SMU (who are ranked 18th as of Week 6 of college football), Memphis, and Houston. The toughest conference opponents are lining up.
Cincinnati will play Tulsa for their first game after the break. Tulsa lost a one-score game to Oklahoma State and knocked UCF out of the Top-25. Cincinnati will have to be ready.
The Bearcats will have to spend their off week working out some of their kinks. But while Cincy has been so good so far, there are really only two things that need immediate improvement.
The Bearcats rank 24th in the country in scoring offense, 26th in rushing offense, eighth in scoring defense, 13th in total defense, and are tied for 5th in takeaways. They’re doing many things well and only a few things poorly.
Here’s what they should pay special attention to this week in practice.
Things Cincinnati Should Work On During Their Off Week
In order for this offense to become top-tier, Cincinnati needed quarterback Desmond Ridder to take a step forward.
Ridder won the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Award in 2018. He completed 194 passed for 2,45 yards and 20 touchdowns. Right now, he is on pace to break off of those milestones.
Unfortunately, he’s also on pace to throw 26 interceptions.
Even though his pure production is better, his efficiency is much worse. If Ridder doesn’t turn things around, he could have the least efficient season of his career.
Four of Cincinnati’s future opponents have top-40 scoring defenses. Things won’t get any easier for Ridder.
Cincinnati has done really well on kick off returns. Tre Tucker has four returns for 155 yards and a touchdown already. Returning kickoffs are not a problem for the Bearcats.
They only need to make sure other teams do poorly against them.
Currently, Cincinnati gives up 28.2 yards per kick return, which is 63rd in the nation. There will be a lot of talented kick returners in the AAC, so Cincinnati will have to make sure they take care of that.
For what it’s worth, they are currently 79th in punt return yards allowed. That’s decent, but it can be even better.