Cincinnati enjoyed a nice 38-20 victory over Temple Friday night. As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, I can't help but be a little disappointed by Cincinnati's win. Temple is very bad. That team may not win a game this season. The final margin was a comfortable 18, but the Cats never really put Temple away. Kay's dagger TD run occured at the very end of the 3rd quarter.
There is something about this team where they can't put together a full 60 on both sides of the ball. The offense worked as well as it had all season. Temple could not stop the short passes to save their life. Short passes is the emphasis. Cincinnati was the first team to not throw for 300 yards against Temple. And the Owls played esteemed offenses like Fordham and Idaho. This Bearcat squad doesn't have the kill switch. It caught up to them against Miami, Illinois and USF. It allowed Temple to hang around much longer than they should have. Natural talent can win you games against inferior teams. It did Friday night.
Brendon Kay had been catching a lot of heat from some ends for somewhat inconsistent play. He responded in a major way back on the home field. He had a huge numbers game against Northwestern State followed by a huge numbers game against Temple. He was 31-37 for 270 yards, 2 TDs and he ran for 18 yards and another TD. He didn't get things going down the field, longest completion was 25, but he just chipped away at Temple all night long. This is the Kay that we expected to see. We didn't expect him to be nearly flawless, but we expected him to get the job done. And he did it very well. Yay Kay.
If that wasn't enough for Kay, he punted twice for a 53.5 yard average. Both of his punts were inside the 20. I still don't know why Temple didn't have anyone back when UC always punts out of those formations, but Kay made them pay all day baby.
If we are going to speak about things people have been clamouring about, Tion Green being the man at running back was another. In his first real shot at playing time, he came up roses. Green rushed 18 times for 91 yards and 2 scores. He could have had a 100 yard game if Luallen didn't run the ball late. He looked fantastic. I can't remember who said this, but Green is the only back who always falls forward. He breaks all the arm tackles, see his first TD run, and has plus speed for a bigger, well for this team, back. Tion Green was very impressive. He may not be the starter in name, he's going to be the starter with reps.
The former kind of dynamic duo of Ralph Abernathy IV and Hosey Williams might be on ice for the rest of the year. RDA had 10 carries for 18 yards along with 2 catches for 10 yards. 12 touches for 28 yards isn't good enough. Abernathy did break a kick return 38 yards, his best of the season. But he also had a touchdown and got tripped up by the turf. It's not all on RDA, the coaching staff doesn't seem to know how to properly utilize his talents. It sucks because he has a lot of them.
It sucks more for Hosey Williams because he didn't even play.
Shaq Washington and Anthony McClung deserve their own talking points, but they go together here because they have turned into the best duo at receiver we've seen since 2010. They aren't Armon Binns and DJ Woods in terms of yards, but they are Binns and Woods in terms of you better bring your A game defensively because they are going to get the ball and make plays. Kay's best performances lately have been the 4th quarter against USF and this game. McClung has played well, Washington has played well. They are hard to stop. Especially when you get contributions from Chris Moore (40 yards receiving, 20 rushing) and Max Morrison (37 yards), who we've seen make plays when given the chance. It took a little while, but this is turning into a very dangerous group. And that's not mention Mekale McKay.
Shaq Washington had 11 receptions for 72 yards. He's got 35 catches on the year. His development as the sure handed, move the sticks receiver has been great. He's not getting the yards, he's making an impact with what he does though. I'm a fan.
Anthony McClung had 7 grabs for 86 yards and 2 TDs. He's having the breakout that people believed was possible for Anthony McClung. He's the top dog and he's playing like it.
Cincinnati had 11 penalties for 105 yards. Temple had 8 penalties for 90 yards. It was not sharp football.
Temple's penalties all seemed to help the Bearcats. There was a roughing the passer when Cincinnati would have had to punt from the end zone, which allowed Cincinnati to completely flip field position right before the Edwards pick. There were 2 pass interference penalties on the drive to make it 28-20.
The Temple defense is so bad that the LuallenCat worked very well. Jordan Luallen was second on the team with 59 yards. He had the longest run of the night. Don't know why that package is still around, but hey, it worked against Temple.
Temple racked up 376 yards on the defense. A lot of it was in the first half. The Owls ran for 176 yards, a 5.7 yard average. They averaged 8 yards an attempt through the air. The Cincinnati offense was able to keep the Owls off the field with ball control. Two very costly turnovers by the Owls kept points off the board and gave Cincinnati a chance to extend the lead, which they did. This wasn't the worst defensive effort, that would be Illinois, but it was the most disappointing because a freshman QB ran a terrible offense all over the Cincinnati defense.
The defense did make plays. Zach Edwards had his second INT of the season. He got beat for a TD earlier in the game and made up for it big time by picking off a floater from PJ Walker. Edwards set UC up so they could make it 21-13. He's just a freshman. He might be the best player in the secondary. His future is bright.
The other big play was by Jeff Luc, who forced another fumble. That's two in two weeks. He has a knack for the big play. We should all roll our shirts up in tribute.
Cincinnati has a pretty big coverage issue on their hands. Illinois used creative playcalling to get the linebackers in space to exploit them in coverage. Temple just sent running backs out as receivers. Both worked the same. Zaire Williams, 51 yards, and Kenneth Harper, 40, were the Owls' leading receivers.
Both Temple backs had over or near 100 yards of total offense. Harper ran 10 times for 72 yards with his 40 receiving yards. Williams ran for 47 yards with his 51 receiving yards for 98 total. Harper, Williams and QB PJ Walker all had runs of at least 24. Just did not get the job done.
Greg Blair had a team best 9 tackles, 0.5 for loss. Silverberry Mouhon, Nick Temple and Adrian Witty, 1 TFL, all had 6.
Jordan Stepp, Adam Dempsey and the duo of Marques Aiken and Brad Harrah got to Walker three times.
Tony Miliano hit from 44 yards out, breaking the field goal drought. He hit 4 of his 7 kickoffs for touchbacks as well. Great week for Tony.
We end by shining the spotlight on a Temple player. Tyler Matakevich led the American in tackles going into this game. He ended with the lead as well. He made 15 tackles, 11 of them solo. You hear a lot about guys flying all over the field, well he flew all over the field. He made every play he could. He's really good.
Finally, if there are 25 seconds left on first down in a blowout and all you have to do is snap it, JUST SNAP THE BALL. Why UC didn't have a play, any play at all, ready to go was annoying. Mainly because everyone wanted the game to end. It was a very weird timeout in a game full of very weird timeouts. I blame Marvin Lewis for attending.
Photos via Andrew Weber-USA Today and Ashley Kempher-UC via Go Bearcats