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Desmond Ridder
NFL Draft

What Does Desmond Ridder Have To Prove In Cotton Bowl?

  • Crissy Froyd
  • December 31, 2021
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Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder was one of the most highly touted quarterbacks in this class and he’s hung in between QB5 and QB8 across most mock drafts. But he’s got a chance to further increase his draft stock in the Cotton Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Cincinnati enters the game as a heavy underdog despite being undefeated and Alabama not having a perfect record, but the reasoning behind it is the thought that Cincinnati has been up against lower-level competition throughout the season. If Ridder and the Bearcats want to prove they can hang with the big dogs, there is no better time than now, going up against a team that is consistently dominant in all phases of the game for the most part year in and year out. Alabama has proven a much bigger challenge than many anticipated it would be in the postseason after the Crimson Tide put Georgia away in a big way, winning 41-21 in the SEC Championship after entering the game as an underdog for the first time in several years. The Crimson Tide proved that just-good-enough offense wouldn’t be enough to take them out, practically eliminating the Bulldogs’ ground game and picking off a shaky Stetson Bennett twice at some of the worst times for Georgia—so the Bearcats are going to have to bring their A-game and find some explosiveness within an offense that hasn’t always been that in the 2021 season. Outside of this, Ridder’s other opportunity to prove he can play both against several different players from different conferences and with a diverse group within his offensive line and supporting cast is at the Senior Bowl, which will come in February, not long after he finishes out the postseason—regardless of when that may be. This season, Ridder has shown the ability to get the job done, operate efficiently, and lead some comeback efforts. But at times, he has looked lackluster overall and has had some accuracy issues at points in the year. Ridder completed 65.9% of his passes for 3,190 yards with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions, also carrying the ball 100 times for 371 yards and six touchdowns, displaying the ability to make plays with his legs. In his most recent showing, a 35-20 win over the Houston Cougars in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, Ridder completed 11-of-17 passes for 190 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s his lowest total in five games after he snapped a dry spell in passing yardage, when he had back-to-back games in which he passed for less than 200 yards. As the Georgia loss to Alabama would imply, Ridder is going to have to come out hot in the passing game and keep mistakes to a very small minimum if Cincinnati is to have a fighting chance. Relying on the running game at any point is no guarantee.

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Crissy Froyd