Cincinnati’s overall 7-6 record was a tad disappointing last year, especially after a 42-7 loss to San Diego State in the Hawaii Bowl. The Bearcats had bigger plans, yet finished just 4-4 in Conference play even with one of the best passing attacks in the nation. The problem was on the defensive side where they gave up points in bunches. With new coordinators on both sides of the field, this team still has a lot of unknowns.
Unfortunately, one of those unknowns is at quarterback where Gunner Kiel will be competing with Hayden Moore for the starting job. Kiel’s overall numbers took a step back last year, mainly in the touchdown department as he had only 19 TDs to go with 11 interceptions. He did complete 65.2% of his passes, but that didn’t lead to fewer interceptions. Moore stepped in and slung the ball plenty, but also struggled with nine TDs and 11 INTs. New offensive coordinator Zac Taylor comes from the Miami Dolphins, so the offense could look a bit different.
The Bearcats lose their top five receivers from a year ago so that’ll probably hurt the quarterbacks a bit. Someone new will have to step up and that could be senior Nate Cole (262 yards). Running back is mostly set with Mike Boone (749 yards, 9 TDs) and Tion Green (729 yards, 8 TDs) still there. The interior of the offensive line is filled with returning starters and seniors, so that should boost a more pro-style offense. Cincy should have no problem scoring again, but probably won’t be as high-flying as a year ago.
The defense actually improved last year, but was still a liability as seen in giving up 53 points to Memphis and 65 to South Florida. There needs to be more consistency from the group, which returns starters at every level.
They were young last year, so that should translate into more experience this season. That starts along the line with tackles Cortez Broughton and Alex Pace. But it’s at linebacker where the Bearcats excel with senior Eric Wilson leading the way to go with Bryce Jenkinson. The secondary is plenty talented as well with all-Conference performer safety Zach Edwards, who had 93 tackles a year ago.
Tommy Tuberville’s team took a step back last year with only seven wins, but he’s hoping a better defense will get them back to eight or nine wins in 2016. But getting those wins will require an upset or two. Cincinnati travels to Purdue early in the year and that’s followed just five days later against Houston. That could easily be two losses if Cincy doesn’t take care of the ball. But after that, their Schedule opens up with home Games against USF, BYU and Memphis standing out as need-to-wins if they want more than seven on the season.
Cincinnati’s over/under is at 7.5 wins with the under being -210 at 5 Dimes in mid-June. Getting to eight wins is definitely a possibility with experience at quarterback and a solid offensive line, but can this team be better overall than a year ago? That requires more consistency on the offensive end and more playmakers on defense. Two things that can’t easily be improved upon.
2016 Cincinnati Bearcats Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. UT Martin
Sept. 10 at Purdue
Sept. 15 vs. Houston
Sept. 24 vs. Miami (OH)
Oct. 1 vs. USF
Oct. 8 at Connecticut
Oct. 22 vs. East Carolina
Oct. 29 at Temple
Nov. 5 vs. BYU
Nov. 12 at UCF
Nov. 18 vs. Memphis
Nov. 25 at Tulsa