Let’s get down to brass tacks, the Bearcats have a solid quarterback, and he is going to tear defenses apart. Quarterback Desmond Ridder had a very nice freshman season as his 2,445 passing yards, and 20 touchdowns helped him claim the AAC Freshman of the Year Award. His 583 rushing yards assisted in that honor.
Ridder will look to pass first, but when everything breaks down, which the Bruins need to be mindful of, he will cut right through the defense.
But those yards on the ground were only second to running back Michael Warren II who totaled 1,329 and 19 touchdowns. If Ridder doesn’t run through them, then Warren will. He is a shifty back that can turn on the afterburners if he sees space. UCLA’s run defense improved from the previous season, but they are going to be tested in this first game by UC’s runners.
Cincinnati 2018 Offensive Stats
Cincy’s top receiver Kahlil Lewis is gone, but the Bruins are going to have an interesting time against Rashad Medaris, Jayshon Jackson and Thomas Geddis who collectively only had 978 yards, but divided up into 14.2 yards per catch.
The thing is, Cincinnati has a lot of players returning with this well-oiled machine and they are going to give UCLA a tough time. It’s no secret that the Bruins severely lacked in the pass rush department and if they do not improve, offenses are going to do whatever they want against this team.
The good news is that the defense has a few more options to lead off in the pass rush. Though Keisean-Lucier South is the top candidate (and we still do not know his status for the 2019 season), Elijah Gates and Idua Isibor along with newcomers Noah Keeter, Jason Harris, and redshirt sophomore Jayce Smalley will try to help out on the edge.
Either way, the Bruins have to apply pressure to take the weight off the linebackers and secondary. Good news, the UCLA LBs are the thickest they have been in several seasons.