Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
In the season opener, against Pitt, Munchie Legaux made many spectacular plays. But he often failed to make simple, routine plays, especially in the passing game. With four games in the books the basic plays in the playbook have become routine. Its a scary thought for Big East defenses.
Lets just throw the concept out there. Munchie Legaux is a good quarterback. There, I said it. Munchie is not great, not in the conventional Geno Smith sense. But he has already shown himself to be capible. He is 6-1 as a starter, he is currently boasting a QB efficiency rating that is higher than anything that Zach Collaros produced in 2011, or 2010 for that matter. Most importantly of all, Munchie is getting better, but he is getting better in subtle ways. Ways that are tough to notice game to game.
For example, an issue that cropped up in the Pitt game was how reliant Munchie was on the short routes, and the screen game. Against Pitt alone, 9 of Munchie's 27 attempts came behind the line of scrimmage. That figure increased to 10 during the Delaware State game. In the last two games the total for passes behind the line of scrimmage is just 6, including just 1 against Miami.
Instead of doing his work in the screen game, and on check downs, Munchie is doing his work on the intermediate area of the field. A constant refrain from Butch Jones this season has been about making the routine play. That applies to everyone, but Munchie's struggles against Pitt are well documented. There is no more routine a play in the playbook than all curls. Its a simple route, but one that Munchie put in the dirt, routinely, against Pitt. Now, that play is back to being an automatic five yards for this offense.
The end result of that is a balanced passing game, one that is capible of stretching a defense horizontally and vertically, and that is a much more difficult offense to defend than one that relies on the screen game almost to a fault, as the Bearcats did against Pitt.
Munchie is growing as a quarterback, but growth takes time. Munchie isn't going to wake up one Saturday and be able to go out there and throw for 300 yards, with an 80 per cent completion rate, and a handful of touchdowns. As Butch Jones likes to say, its a process. Saturday nights game was the first time this season, and in his career, that Munchie posted a QB rating over 100 throwing long, short, and in the screen game. Its a small step, sure, but it is a significant one from where I am sitting.
I still don't know, for certain, that Munchie Legaux is able to lead this Bearcats team to another Big East Championship, and another BCS Bowl. Before the season I had confidence in Munchie, but nothing empirical to back that confidence up, which made that confidence more like faith. With each passing week the evidence mounts, and that faith turns back into confidence.
What I think I know at this point is that Munchie is very good at distributing the ball. Through four games Munchie has targeted 12 different receivers, 11 of which have come up with receptions. Four different receivers have caught 10 balls or more, five different receivers have at least 100 yards receiving. For me the most impressive thing about Munchie is that he forces defenses to cover every square foot of the field.
That is the breakdown of where on the field Munchie has targeted receivers on the field this season. That is the kind of balance that was missing from the offense with Zach Collaros. Because Zach was shorter, the middle of the field was closed off to him, and the passing game took place, almost entirely, outside the hashes. Really the only thing you can say about this would be that Munchie is, slightly, left handed.
That balance is what is going to make this offense really interesting to watch the rest of the season. The Bearcats already have the best offense in the Big East, in terms of scoring, rushing and total offense, but as a unit this group is only beginning to scratch the surface of their potential. As Munchie continues to become more effective, so to will the offense. That is the point where faith turns into confidence.