Cincinnati redshirt freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder began the season on the bench, but he didn't stay there very long. And he won't be there when No. 20 Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) visits Temple (4-3, 3-0) in Saturday's noon homecoming game at Lincoln Financial Field.
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Ridder is a dual threat quarterback who has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,062 yards, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has rushed for 315 yards (4.5 avg.) and four scores.
"They have a young quarterback who can make all the throws, he has a strong arm, but the thing that really stands out is when plays break down in the zone read attack that they use, he can really hurt you with his feet," Temple coach Geoff Collins said about Ridder.
Ridder supplanted redshirt senior Hayden Moore as the starter. Moore was in the starting lineup for the opener at UCLA, but after two series, he was replaced by Ridder.
The Bearcats won the game, 26-17, spoiling Chip Kelly's UCLA debut. More important, Ridder hasn't left the starting lineup.
Supplanting Moore was no small feat. In addition to starting all 12 games last season for the 4-8 Bearcats, Moore has thrown for 6,328 career yards and 40 touchdowns.
The Owls defenders have been putting in extra time studying Ridder and the Bearcats' offense.
"We have to rush efficiently but have to contain him and make sure he stays in the pocket," said Temple defensive tackle Michael Dogbe of Ridder. "When he steps up, a defensive tackle has to be there to sack him."
It won't be easy to sack Ridder for a few reasons. First off, he has great mobility and can escape the pass rush. The other main factor is an offensive line with an average size of 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. Cincinnati quarterbacks have been sacked 10 times, just six since the opening win at UCLA.
Some games Ridder has been better with his arm and others with his feet. For instance, during a 21-0 win against Miami of Ohio, in a game played in steady rain, Ridder threw for just 45 yards, but rushed for 100.
During a 30-3 victory over visiting Ohio University, he ran for just 28 yards but threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns.
Besides a strong offensive line, Ridder also has plenty of other weapons. Running back Michael Warren has rushed for 665 yards (5.4 avg.) and 11 touchdowns.
"They have a big physical running back, weapons on the perimeter and their tight end is their leading receiver," Collins said.
That tight end is Josiah Deguara, who has 21 receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
And Cincinnati is known more for its defense. The Bearcats are third in the country in scoring defense, allowing 13.7 points per game.
Yet the key will be how Temple handles Ridder.