Cincinnati opens QB competition for Temple game
Bearcats coach Butch Jones is open to changing his quarterback.
Jones said on Tuesday that incumbent Munchie Legaux and backup Brendon Kay will compete for the job in practice this week. Either way, wildcat quarterback Jordan Luallen will likely get a bigger role in the offense against Temple on Saturday.
Cincinnati (6-2, 2-1 Big East) pulled away to a 35-24 win over Syracuse on Saturday after Jones replaced Legaux, who has thrown six interceptions in the last three games. Kay completed all three of his passes, including one for a touchdown.
Kay's solid showing could merit his first career start at Temple (3-5, 2-3).
''We're going today just like every day, and they're going to battle it out with Brendon and Munchie and Jordan,'' Jones said. ''I've spoken to all of them. They understand. We're not going to tolerate carelessness with the football. We're going to take care of the football.''
Legaux became the starter this season and has been inconsistent. The streak of interceptions prompted Jones to make the mid-game switch against Syracuse. Now, he has to decide what type of passer best fits the offense, which has come to rely on senior running back George Winn.
''We're three different quarterbacks completely,'' Luallen said on Tuesday. ''Obviously I'm more of a running guy. Munchie is kind of a combination of both. Brendon can run, too, but he's obviously your prototypical pocket passer.''
Jones is trying to keep Temple guessing, going so far as to suggest that Luallen - a receiver who used to play quarterback - might start. He hadn't said anything like that to Luallen.
''That's news to me if that's the case,'' Luallen said. ''If it is, I'll be ready to go with whatever.''
Jones had been publicly supportive of Legaux, a junior who moved into the starting job this season. Only four days after saying he'd never considered changing quarterbacks, Jones benched him in the midst of another erratic performance.
In the last three games, Legaux completed only 45 percent of his passes for 508 yards, two touchdowns and those six interceptions.
Kay, a senior who figured he might never get a chance to play, replaced Legaux and threw for a touchdown on his second pass.
''I thought I played well,'' Kay said on Tuesday. ''Obviously there are things you can do better. I thought I managed the offense well.''
Jones also liked what he saw, saying Kay gave the offense a spark. He doesn't think changing quarterbacks would shake up the team.
''Here's the great thing about our football team, and it's different than any football team I've coached: They're resilient and they just go with the flow,'' Jones said. ''Even though they're extremely young, they just take it and go with it. They don't ask questions.''
The quarterbacks seem to be handling the uncertainty well.
''We've been together for three years now, all three of us,'' Luallen said. ''We've seen all kinds of different situations, from Munchie playing wide receiver (in the wildcat) to me playing other positions. We've all been together through a lot of stuff. It makes it easy to be able to cheer for one another.''
The Bearcats used their wildcat package more extensively against Syracuse. Luallen ran six times for 32 yards and completed a pass for 14 yards.
Winn also threw a touchdown pass off a trick play. He took a handoff, ran toward the line, then jumped and made a left-handed flip to an uncovered tight end, getting a touchdown off his first career pass.
Luallen would love the chance to throw a jump-pass.
''My role model is Tim Tebow, so I've watched him do that,'' Luallen said. ''That would be pretty neat, to do what he's done. That was a neat play. I liked that a lot.''
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay