I have to tip my cap to both Eddie Gran and Art Kaufman today. Both of them called a terrific game. Offensively the Bearcats got off to a sluggish start but did pretty much anything they wanted to SMU’s defense after the first quarter. Gran used a combination of outside screens and inside runs to keep the chain moving in the second half with Cincinnati up just 14-10 at halftime. As the saying goes, sometimes the best defense is a good offense and that was the case today. UC converted 10 of 15 third down opportunities. Those few extra downs and precious minutes kept Garrett Gilbert and the dangerous SMU offense on the bench. That was a big reason why the Mustangs scored just 25 points today, a full touchdown short of their average this season.
But another part of that was Art Kaufman’s gameplan. He emphasized to his players that they needed to make sure tackles today. For the most part they did, not allowing for the Mustang receivers to get many yards after the catch. Additionally the defensive line created pressure all game. While they didn’t always sack Gilbert, they were flying around his legs on most plays. Most importantly, Kaufman’s redzone play calling was terrific. He mixed in well-timed blitzes to confuse the timing of SMU’s passing game. So it’s no wonder that while Gilbert threw for over 400 yards today, he only completed just a pair of touchdowns. “Bend don’t break” at its finest.
In the end, Cincinnati was tested against an offense that is capable of scoring several touchdowns per game and came out on top. That was one of the biggest question marks heading into this game. The last time they faced an offensive of this caliber (Illinois), the Bearcats were torched to the tune of 45 points. The fact that UC held a similarly dangerous offense today to just 25 points is very, very encouraging as Cincinnati heads into the most critical portion of their schedule.