Does Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder pose a serious threat to the Alabama Football defense? He is certainly a threat. How dangerous a threat is somewhat difficult to assess. Ridder can be very good, but at times, flaws in his game are apparent.
The Alabama Crimson Tide defense should not and will not take him lightly. Ridder is capable of explosive plays with his arm and his feet. He has tons of game experience in a Bearcats career that spans 49 games. The knock against Ridder is most of his career opposition has come from weak to average defensive teams. There are a few exceptions, the most notable being Georgia at the end of the 2020 season.
The Bearcats came close to taking down the Bulldogs in the Peach Bowl. The game was a statement opportunity for Cincinnati and they faced a less motivated Georgia team. The Bulldogs defense kept Ridder under pressure, including six, second-half sacks. Ridder passed for over 200 yards against the Dawgs, but outside a 79-yard, touchdown run by former Crimson Tider, Jerome Ford, the second-half was an offensive bust for Cincinnati.
What the Peach Bowl game proved was the Bearcats defense was capable of challenging the offensive athletes of a big-time Power Five program.
Getting back to Ridder, he can be compared to a couple of other QBs the Alabama Football defense has faced this season. Ridder has a similar package of skills to Matt Corral and Emory Jones. Both Corral and Jones gave the Crimson Tide defense problems. But the Tide defense has improved in the second half of the season and is far tougher than the one Corral and Jones faced.
Ridder is less likely to run than Corral or Jones, but he has comparable speed and can break tackles. Corral is a better passer and Jones is not as good as Ridder. The Cincinnati QB can make all the throws, but throughout his career, in some games, his passing accuracy has been a problem. Though he has been more consistent in 2021, his performances against Indiana, Central Florida and Navy must concern Cincinnati fans. UCF has performed creditably in Passing Efficiency Defense but the Hoosiers and Midshipmen are statistically porous in defending passing attacks. Ridder’s passing was at best average in those three games.
One of Ridder’s two best passing games in 2021 came against SMU, ranked No. 104 in Passing Efficiency Defense. His other, best game, was the most recent one against Houston. Ridder did not have to beat the Cougars with his arm because the Houston defense allowed the Bearcats an average of 7.5 yards per rush. Ridder threw only 17 passes against Houston, completing 11 for 190 yards. Those numbers are modest, but Houston is ranked No. 21 in Passing Efficiency Defense.
Desmond Ridder is good enough to possibly be an NFL first-round pick. He is certainly too good to be considered just another Group of Five with impressive performances against weaker opposition. He has also not faced a defense equal to Alabama Football.