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Desmond Ridder
NFL Draft

Desmond Ridder Showed In Cotton Bowl He Has Plenty Of Room To Grow

  • Crissy Froyd
  • January 3, 2022
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Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder and his Bearcats team came into the Cotton Bowl as heavy underdogs. Unfortunately, they proved that a big point spread really could have been even larger. Instead of making a statement, they fell 27-6 to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Ridder had some bright moments to go with what was an overall lackluster night for him and the offense as he completed 17-of-32 passes for 144 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, he was completely ineffective on the ground with 10 rushing attempts for -6 yards and not a score to his name by the end of the outing. This isn’t to say that Ridder is a bad quarterback or that Cincinnati didn’t belong in the College Football Playoff—the explanation is quite the opposite, really. Ridder has all the right tools to be a successful quarterback or at least a high-end backup in the NFL, but he needs some additional development. Despite hanging around in the conversation for QB1 for a long time, he simply isn’t at the level of quarterbacks like Carson Strong, Kenny Pickett, and Matt Corral. Cincinnati didn’t go undefeated for no reason, and its defense did an admirable job holding Alabama to less than 30 points. They just didn’t have the same amount of firepower against a team that’s consistently been one of the best in the nation for several years and is even hungrier to perform well after hitting a small period of shakiness this season. Looking specifically at Ridder, some things he did in his own right where others came up short in this game could have made Alabama’s margin of victory less than three scores, which says a lot for Cincinnati’s case to belong here. Perhaps the most notable of those was when Ridder placed a ball perfectly into the end zone toward the top of the fourth quarter, but his receiver couldn’t control it all the way to the ground. This play alone certainly wouldn’t have put Cincinnati in any sure position to win, but it definitely could have given the Bearcats a heavy dose of momentum and a manageable 24-13 deficit with more than 11 minutes left to play. All in all, a nice throw by Ridder and what you want to see from a quarterback in this particular situation. This was another one of the Cincinnati offense’s highlights of the night as Ridder delivered a 28-yarder to wide receiver Michael Young to bring the Bearcats well into Alabama territory: As the numbers and film would indicate, though, there’s still a lot of room for growth for Ridder as he prepares to make the transition—he had several balls for short passes batted down by the Alabama defensive line on more than just a few occasions, looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and needed to release the ball quicker than he did on Friday night. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Ridder, who can continue increasing his draft stock in the Senior Bowl next month, but there are large areas he needs to address between now and when he gets to play in the NFL.

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Crissy Froyd