When Walter Stewart went down, it was a tough blow to this unit. Not only was Stewart a great player, but he was one of the emotional and vocal leaders on this team. In his absence, it has forced other players to step up, mainly Brandon Mills and John Williams. While both have done an admirable job, it will take a while for the unit to gain the cohesive that the previous unit enjoyed. Against Syracuse, the defensive line did not record a sack, and allowed over 193 yards rushing to the Orangemen offense. It wasn't their best showing, but every game is a learning experience for this group. Hopefully they will use the practice time allotted to improve from week to week.
BearcatInsider grade: C
Once again, senior Greg Blair has proven himself to be near irreplaceable on this Cincinnati defense. Blair led the defense with 10 tackles and one pass break up, pacing the way to another solid performance from the linebackers. Senior Maalik Bomar finished with five solo tackles. The Syracuse offense had a solid day against this banged up unit, busting many big runs and picking apart the middle of the UC defense with passing plays up the seams. The linebackers need to set the example for the defense, playing hard on every down and hoping that the rest of the defense will follow suit.
BearcatInsider grade: B
The banged up secondary received no breaks after facing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week. Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib threw for 286 yards and one touchdown against this patch-work unit. With Deven Drane out with injury, Trenier Orr stepped up in his place and had a solid game, finishing with nine tackles and two pass break-ups, both leading the secondary. Senior Camerron Cheatham continued to be the consistent player that he has been all season, finishing with five tackles and doing a great job in coverage. If the secondary can get healthy, they will need to crack down as a unit. The Big East has a solid crop of quarterbacks and they will be tested week in and week out for the rest of the season.
BearcatInsider grade: B-