By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Struggling for the third straight game, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones pulled starting quarterback Munchie Legaux midway through the third quarter against Syracuse two weeks ago after he threw his sixth interception in three games.
The move proved wise as Brendon Kay helped Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1 Big East) snap their two game losing streak. Kay started in the win against Temple on Saturday, and Jones is sticking with him against No. 22 Rutgers (8-1, 4-0 Big East).
While it’ll be a quarterback who’s only played just over five quarters of meaningful snaps this season, Cincinnati’s offense hasn’t changed with a new signal caller.
“It’s really not,” head coach Kyle Flood said when asked if Cincinnati’s offense is different with a new quarterback. “It’s the same offense.”
Which really comes as no surprise. As Ka’Lial Glaud put it, “at a school, the coaches are going to recruit a quarterback that they think can run their offense.”
At Cincinnati, it’s the spread that likes to have a dual threat quarterback. However, the quarterbacks aren’t mirror images of each other.
Legaux is more athletic and fleet of foot than Kay, but Kay is more conservative and takes better care of the football than Legaux. In his 26 pass attempts on the season, Kay hasn’t thrown an interception.
So with Legaux, the opportunities for turnovers would have been aplenty. That may not be the case with Kay. Still, Rutgers’ turnover happy defense is confident they’ll get their fair share.
“We like to go out there and create our own turnovers and sometimes we do the forced fumbles, we do the second man strip,” safety Duron Harmon said. “We’re going to go out there and we’re going to get turnovers.”
The key to doing that could be rattling Kay. Despite being a fifth-year senior, has limited experience, making his first career start last week. With that being the case, Rutgers will try to get to Kay early and often.
“That’s always the key with any type of quarterback – experienced, inexperienced,” defensive tackle Scott Vallone said. “You want to try and get them off of their rhythm so that means hitting them.”
Harmon added: “We’re going to try to rattle him in any way that we can. Try and make him throw us the ball and try to get back there and get some strips on him and stuff like that.”
If that’s the case, it could be Kay that gets benched with Legaux coming in to relief him. Something the Scarlet Knights will be ready for.
“We got to prepare for him [Legaux] because Brendon Kaye has never been in a situation were things have been going bad for him,” Harmon said. “So they might resort to go back to Munchie, so we have to be able to prepare for both.”