Advantage: Toss Up
Expect UCLA to bring pressure from the linebackers in hopes of making things difficult for Ridder, who has shown himself as a fine decision-maker, throwing only 5 interceptions in his young career. Aiding UCLA will be a year’s worth of film on the star quarterback, and head coach Chip Kelly is as devoted and skilled at breaking down film as any in college football.
Overall, it will be interesting to see if the Bearcats opt for their bread and butter short-and-mid-range passing attack to take the pressure off their offensive line, or try to mix in some shots downfield and trust in Ridder’s feet to bail them out if needed. Be ready for UCLA to pressure the Bearcats’ rebuilt offensive line early and often, bringing wrinkles and line shifts to confuse the Cincinnati offense, increasing the difficultly of line calls and coverage reads. The Bruins will surely rely on their defensive secondary to hold fast and keep opposing skill players from breaking out, and are hoping desperately that Darnay Holmes will recover from injury.
If Cincinnati can keep Ridder’s pocket clean, they can coast on a solid QB performance to a narrow win, relying on their run game to lead the way in front of their home fans. But if UCLA can dominate the trenches, putting pressure on the offensive line and not giving Ridder time to throw while stuffing running lanes, it could be a long day for a Cincinnati team that is certainly at a talent disadvantage in this early matchup.
Thank you all for reading! Be sure to check out my next segment in the Season Opener Preview, where I will break down the Cincinnati Running Backs and running game.