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Bearcat Quarterbacks Back Taylor

Cincinnati's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, left, works the sidelines alongside Gunner Kiel, right, during their spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Cincinnati. Taylor, the former offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, was hired earlier this year to replace the vacant positions left by former UC offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and former UC quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

His first year as the University of Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator did not go well.

The Bearcats finished with a 4-8 record and only scored 20.9 points per game to rank 111th out of 130 Division I teams.

I am referring to UC’s current offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock.

This past season in Denbrock’s second year at Cincinnati, the Bearcats averaged 34.9 points and finished with an 11-2 record.

My point is that we probably shouldn’t be overly concerned that UC went 4-8 in 2016 and didn’t post great offense stats in Zac Taylor’s only year as offensive coordinator. There likely would have been significant improvement if there had been a second season. 

But don’t take my word for it. Consider how a pair of Bearcat quarterbacks feel about the Bengals new head coach.

“He’s an all-around great guy and I think he’s an even better coach,” said Desmond Ridder. “I think he’s really good on the field and off the field and I think he’s someone that you can talk to. If you ever need anything he’ll be there and I think that’s one of the reasons why I liked him so much.”

“He taught us so much about defenses and when he explained his offense it made perfect sense to me,” said Hayden Moore. “I think his football smarts are definitely top tier.”

Ridder, who earned AAC Rookie of the Year honors this season as a redshirt freshman, was recruited to Cincinnati by Taylor but never got to play for him. His only other scholarship offer coming out of Louisville’s St. Xavier High School came from Eastern Kentucky.

“I fell in love with him when he was in Louisville,” said Taylor. “I remember the workout he conducted with his teammates and he was a great leader. That was the thing that struck me. The guys were drawn to him.”

“I really wanted to play for him,” said Ridder. “He seemed like the type of coach that you definitely want to go out and play hard for. He also seemed like he would have been a great guy to learn from. So I was pretty bummed when I wasn’t able to (play for him), but then (UC quarterbacks) Coach Gino (Guidugli) and Coach Denbrock came in and we are where we are now.”

Moore was one of three starting quarterbacks in Taylor’s only season on the UC coaching staff and gives him high marks despite the Bearcats’ disappointing record.

“I really enjoyed him and his coaching,” Hayden said. “I felt like when we were learning the offense he taught us very, very well and I knew exactly what I was doing. He brought his offense from the Dolphins and I really liked it a lot. I think he got put into a situation at Cincinnati that ended badly for him but I liked him a lot.”

Even though Taylor spent the last two years in Los Angeles he remained in contact with both Bearcat quarterbacks.

“He would text me every couple of games just saying that he’s seeing that I’m doing well and that he’s proud of me,” said Ridder. “I would shoot him a text back saying, ‘Thanks for keeping up with me and thanks for what you did for me.’”

“He’s been busy lately but we did get to talk a couple of weeks ago,” said Moore. “I was going to the Gridiron Showcase (a scouting event for college seniors) and he was giving me pointers. I aspire to be what he is right now. He was so busy with the playoffs and the Rams and he took time out of his day to talk to me and give me advice on what I’m doing.”

So what do the two Bearcat quarterbacks think about the Bengals hiring Zac Taylor as their head coach?

“I think it’s going to give the Bengals a new look and I think his mind and his attitude is going to give them the spark that they need,” said Moore. “I think he’s going to thrive and I think it was a good decision.”

“I thought it was really cool – especially to have him right here five minutes away from campus,” said Ridder.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at @Dan_Hoard.

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