By Mark A. Hodgkin
Twitter - @Mark_Hodgkin
The Cincinnati Bearcats’ two losses this season have been by a mere nine points. Despite those competitive losses, they are still very much alive for a BIG EAST Championship and the league’s automatic berth to a BCS bowl game. To shake up a season with such promise through eight games by switching quarterbacks should tell you all you need to know about the confidence head coach Butch Jones has in senior backup quarterback Brendon Kay.
Kay made his first career start in last week’s 34-10 win at Temple and rewarded his coach with a solid performance – 244 yards passing and two touchdowns with no interceptions as well as another 71 yards on the ground. Kay was honored with a spot on the BIG EAST weekly honor roll.
“We expect and demand a lot from our quarterbacks,” Jones said on the weekly BIG EAST teleconference. “First and foremost among them is managing the football game.”
Kay had seen sparse action in 2009 and 2011 before making appearances in six of the Bearcats’ first eight games this season – primarily late in blow out Bearcat wins. An efficient passer and capable runner, Kay fits the mold of recent Cincinnati quarterbacks.
“I thought Brendon did a great job in terms of managing our offense,” Jones said in his weekly press conference. “That’s what we ask of the quarterback, you have play spontaneously. You have to have great discipline. You can be reckless with the football or careless. I thought he played within the confines, constraints of the offense.”
Kay replaced Munchie Legaux, who had led the Bearcats to a 5-2 start. Legaux won a close training camp competition with Kay to replace Zach Collaros as the Bearcats’ quarterback. LeGaux’s season was not without its share of success, including a standout performance (376 yards, three touchdowns passing) in a thrilling win over Virginia Tech on September 29.
“Both are high character individuals,” Jones said. “We have tremendous faith and confidence in both. It’s been a close competition each week in practice.”
While Jones has given the reins to Kay, he is not interested in looking back at the season in hindsight.
“I know how people talk,” Jones said. “I think in society everyone is concerned with the end results: who’s going to be the BIG EAST champion, who’s going to play in the national championship game, what if Brendon Kay would have been playing the whole season. Well I’ll tell you this: no body felt that way after week 3 when Munchie Legaux stood in the pocket with the fierce pass rush from Virginia Tech and threw the ball deep to win the football game. I don’t believe in should of, would of, could of’s. Munchie Legaux was 8-3 as a starting quarterback.”
Kay will be tested again this week as the Bearcats host BIG EAST frontrunner Rutgers at Nippert Stadium (noon) in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week. The Bearcats are one of three BIG EAST teams still alive for a BIG EAST Championship and berth in the BCS.