2019 Cincinnati Football Season Preview
Cincinnati may have been the most under-the-radar 11-win team in college football in the last two decades. Will they be able to replicate their 2018 success this season?
2018 Record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in AAC
Head Coach: Like Fickell, 3rd year, 15-10
The offense ranked fourth in the AAC last season–which was a dramatic improvement from the 2017 season, and there is reason it will be even better in 2019. Every skill position player has returned.
Sure, the offensive line needs to replace four starters only senior guard James Morgan returned–but if this unit is half as good as a season ago, it’s a positive start.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder was fantastic as a redshirt freshman completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,445 yards and 20 TDs to only five interceptions. He added 583 yards on the ground and five more scores. With a year of experience under his belt, there is a good chance he can play even better.
For as good as Ridder was, it’s possible the group of running backs the Bearcats have accumulated are even better. Michael Warren was a breakout star rushing for 1,329 yards and 19 TDs last season and he will be joined by 2017’s leading rusher Gerrid Doaks, who missed 2018 with an injury. Add in last year’s No.2 back Tavion Thomas and No. 3 Charles McClelland are back and they combined for close to 1,000 yards. Overall this group has power, speed and receiving abilities. How they work all four into the mix will be the question.
The receiving group lost their top target Kahlil Lewis, but they should be just fine with Rashad Medaris, who averaged over 18 yards per catch, and sophomore Jayshon Jackson came up with 23 receptions. The big question will be, who is the No.1 guy? It very well could be senior tight end Josiah Deguara who was second on the team with 38 grabs and five touchdowns last year.
Cincinnati boasted the conference’s best defense a season ago and while they will need to replace three starters from their solid defensive line, they have seven total starters returning.
Curtis Brooks, Elijah Ponder and Marcus Brown may not have started up front a season ago, but they played a decent amount and will be ready to play a lot in 2018–if they play up to their potential, this defense could be even better this year.
The linebacking core needs to replace one guy, but has Bryan Wright, Jarell Wright and Perry Young to rely on. That is a solid group with triple-digit tackle numbers in their careers.
Last season the secondary was supposed to be the team’s weak spot–they had inexperience and youth throughout all positions. In reality, they ended up the AAC’s best, and every single starter returns. Safeties James Wiggins and Darrick Forrest are solid in coverage and in run support. The corners go at least three deep with Coby Bryant, Cam Jefferies and Arquon Bush all vying for a lot of playing time.
This Cincinnati team is back and reloaded for another run at the top of the conference. They need to replace some beef up front on both sides of the ball, but if they do successfully, look out.
The schedule however, is a lot more difficult in 2019–they have to go to Marshall, Houston, USF and Memphis, and they have to host UCF and Temple (two teams they lost to last year).