Expectations are through the roof this season for the Bearcats as they return their deepest and most talented roster, probably of all time. In this multi-part series, I’ll examine each of the position groups, expectations, potential break out stars, and weaknesses. This article we will examine the safest position that doesn’t require any Fall Practice assessments, the Quarterbacks led by Desmond Ridder.
Cincinnati enters this season with it’s fourth year of QB stability, something that’s unprecedented at most schools and absolutely for the Bearcats. Desmond Ridder enters this season as the NCAA Active Leader in Wins with a 30-5 record as a starting QB. Ridder has a chance to enter elite territory in NCAA Football history, with a legit shot to bump Peyton Manning off the Top 5 list of all-time wins:
Kellen Moore (Boise State): 50-3.
Colt McCoy (Texas): 45-8.
Andy Dalton (TCU): 42-7.
David Greene (Georgia): 42-10.
Peyton Manning (Tennessee): 39-6.
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Ridder has the skillset to get UC to the College Football Invitational, and it would take an undefeated National Championship Season to tie Colt McCoy on the list. I think ultimately a tie with Andy Dalton and David Greene is the most likely scenario for the Ridder and the Cats this season, finishing 3rd in All Time Wins, go ahead and start ordering the statue.
Ridder took a big step forward in 2020, after an injury riddled 2019 season. After a slow start in which many people were calling to the start of the Ben Bryant era (including myself), Ridder literally and figuratively turned on the burners, finishing the season against Georgia with 206 yards passing and 2 TDs. Ridder finished the year throwing for 2296 yards at a 66.2% completion percentage and 19 passing TDs. He added 592 yards on the ground averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 12 rushing TDs.
The sky is the limit for Ridder this season, the offensive line and a healthy Alec Pierce is going to be key to his success this season. If the Offensive Line holds up for him, I look for Ridder to throw for 3500 yards (including AAC Championship and Bowl Game) and rush for 750 yards with 40 total touchdowns. The ceiling is much higher than this, but UC has a strong RB in Jerome Ford that should rush for 1000 yards and they are going to be looking to get heir apparent Evan Prater in early and often this season.
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) June 4, 2021
Evan Prater, the highest rated recruit in Cincinnati history and future Head and Shoulders Representative, made a quicker ascension up the depth chart than expected, with the departures of Ben Bryant and Michael Lindauer in the off-season. Prater is very much in the mold of Ridder, so it should make for a seamless transition from Ridder to Prater, when he enters the game. We’ve not seen much of Prater in live games, as he only made one appearance last season against Austin Peay. In the Spring Scrimmage, Prater (and Ridder at least early) looked rough against the UC defense, which will probably be the best defense he’ll see on the schedule. I expect we’ll see Prater in the fourth quarter against Miami and that will give us a better idea going forward if he’s as advertised.
The only other QB on the roster this spring was JUCO Transfer, walk-on Jack Perry made a couple big throws in the Spring Scrimmage, and according to Chad Brendel from Bearcat Journal, he made at least one big throw in each practice in the Spring. Perry likely spends a lot of time running the scout team this year, while incoming freshman Brady Lichtenberg becomes the third team QB.
Brady Lichtenberg and the rest of the freshman class is moving in this weekend and will start their training with Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and madman Brady Collins. Lichtenberg is more of a pocket passer than Ridder and Prater, so if Brady makes his way into the game or is forced to play due to injuries, the Run Pass Option offense that Cincinnati started running heavily last season probably goes out the window. This isn’t to say we won’t see some of those style plays if Brady makes his way into the game, but this kid has a big arm so they’ll be pushing the ball downfield. Brady threw for over 9000 yards and 109 TDs in his high school career. Hopefully we don’t see much of Brady this season, because that signals bigger issues for the Bearcats.
If the Bearcats want to make the College Football Invitational this season, they are going to need Desmond Ridder to stay healthy all season and that means keeping his rushing attempts per game down. Ridder’s attempts per game has gone down every year, with last season averaging 9.8 attempts per game. I look for Ridder to rush about 8-10 times per game to limit contact and keep himself healthy. Ridder will leave UC as the all time leader in wins, 2nd in passing yards, and 1st in total touchdowns. Ridder has been a treasure for the Bearcats and I hope he has the season that has his name called on the first day of the NFL Draft in Las Vegas next April.
Desmond Ridder (14 starts)
Evan Prater (5 appearances)
Brady Lichtenberg (1 appearance)