Emory Jones had a challenging outing in the recent game, completing 14 out of 26 passes for just 96 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball 15 times for 72 rushing yards. Unfortunately, Jones couldn’t establish consistency in his downfield passing and often had to rely on his running ability as the primary source of offense. On the other side, Iowa State displayed an impressive performance by redshirt freshman Rocco Becht, who didn’t need to lead long drives to make an impact.
No Explosive Plays
Photo Cred: WCPO
The downfield passing game was notably absent for Cincinnati in this matchup. Despite attempting to maintain balance, the passing game struggled due to inclement weather conditions and the formidable defense of Iowa State. Entering the game with the third-best interception record in the nation, the Cyclones capitalized on an early interception courtesy of T.J. Tampa. Jones struggled to find a rhythm downfield, raising questions about his abilities as he reached the midway point of his sixth college season.
The Bearcats’ passing game had a tough time, going just 6-of-15 on throws of five or more yards. Jones missed an excellent opportunity when he failed to connect with Dee Wiggins on a wide-open deep post at the start of the game. However, it’s important to note that the lackluster pass game wasn’t solely Jones’ fault. Few players managed to create consistent separation against their opponent’s experienced secondary. Despite his efforts, Emory Jones hasn’t demonstrated enough difference-making capabilities this season to single-handedly lead the offense.
Running Game and Defensive Breakdowns
Photo Cred: Cincy on the Prowl
On the ground, the balance that UC aimed for didn’t translate well for the running backs, particularly with key players like Ryan Montgomery and Ethan Wright missing. Corey Kiner and Myles Montgomery combined for less than three rushing yards per carry. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Becht exploited the matchup against Jordan Young throughout the game, resulting in five explosive pass plays conceded by the Bearcats. This performance underlined why their pass coverage is rated 132nd by PFF.
Penalties and Field Position Battle
Photo Cred: Yahoo Sports
Cincinnati was also plagued by penalties and struggled with field position throughout the game. These issues compounded the challenges they faced. Their special teams, ranked 18th-worst in PFF grades nationally, continued to be a concern. Iowa State frequently began drives with excellent field position, which was attributed to subpar kicking, poor coverage, or a combination of both. Jaylin Noel excelled as a returner, contributing 110 return yards and causing problems for UC.
Notably, two avoidable touchdowns by the Cyclones were the result of costly penalties by Cincinnati: a roughing the passer call by Eric Phillips that nullified a field goal attempt and a fourth-down offsides penalty by Jordan Young that placed additional pressure on the red-zone defense. Despite a decent performance by said red-zone defense, the Bearcats couldn’t afford to put their defense in such precarious situations.
One bright spot for Cincinnati was Chamon Metayer, who emerged as their best player. He even had an impressive touchdown catch, despite a drop on a screen pass. UC managed to work their lone touchdown through Metayer in the middle of the field. With three touchdowns in the last two games, he is becoming an increasingly important asset for the team in a tight end group that desperately needs his contributions. In contrast, Payten Singletary had a challenging day, which marked by an unnecessary blocking penalty in the first half.
UC will now need to regroup and prepare for their upcoming game against Baylor, a 2-4 team likely to be considered the underdog as they visit Nippert Stadium.