I think everyone, in their heart of hearts knew that Brendon Kay was likely to start against Temple. Butch Jones went out of his way to say that turnovers, mistakes and inconsistency won't be tolerated of anyone, but especially not from the quarterback position. He didn't name Kay the starter in that moment, but it was clear that he would be.
Kay took the field for the first time as a starter and delivered a stellar performance. He completed 61 percent of his passes, averaged 11.6 yards per attempt and delivered two bombs to Kenbrell Thompkins and Chris Moore. His yardage was modest, 244 in total, but his greatest contribution was making timely plays.
Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian aren't going to ask Kay to carry this team. These Bearcats are built to run the ball and use that running game to create big plays in the passing game. The QB must make those plays when the opportunities present themselves. Munchie Legaux simply couldn't make those plays when they were required. Kay did against Temple, but the real test comes next week against a Rutgers defense that is by far the best group, top to bottom, that the Bearcats will face until the season finale against UConn.
Meanwhile the defense continues to adjust to life without Walter Stewart. The defensive line rotation has deepened, considerably, since the departure of Walt. But the right combination has yet to be found. Here is the stat of the week; The last time a defensive linemen registered a sack was the Toledo game. Since then the only sacks have come from linebackers (Greg Blair has 1.5 sacks, Nick Temple .5) and defensive backs (Chris Williams has 1 flying squirrel sack, and Camerron Cheatham has 1). UC went sackless against Temple. The last time that happened was against Tennessee during the second week of last season. Needless to say this is an issue.
With the way the Bearcats play defense the sacks will be spread around a little bit. When you send people on blitzes as often as John Jancek does its not uncommon for linebackers and defensive backs to pick up sacks, particularly Chris Williams who is a really talented blitzer from the nickle spot. But it is troubling that the Bearcats are no longer capible of getting pressure with the defensive line. Brandon Mills, Silverberry Mouhon and Dan Girodano have really faded down the stretch without Walt to draw double teams.
At this point the Bearcats are relying on scheme, rather than talent to generate pressure. That becomes a problem in situations where the offense knows that pressure is coming. When the Bearcats bring the fire zone, which remains the preferred method of bringing zone pressure for UC, the offense knows what is behind it, in terms of coverage. It will be a cover three deep, with three intermediate defenders underneath. The quarterback doesn't know who is coming, or who is dropping, but he knows where the coverage will be, and more importantly, where the holes are.
That is one reason why the loss of Walter Stewart has been huge for this defense. Because he could dominate one on one match ups he could create pressure on his own. That allowed the Bearcats to really mix up coverages in the back end to confuse quarterbacks. With Walt out no one else has shown themselves capable of generating pressure in one on one's, and the Bearcats have become predictable with their coverages.
Do you remember when people thought that Jawan Jamison was the best running back in the Big East? Me neither. George Winn is running hard, and putting in work to ensure that the Big East rushing title comes back home to Cincinnati. He had another workmanlike game against Temple. Grinding out 83 yards on 20 carries, scoring two TD's against a defense that aligned itself to stop the run, and make Brendon Kay make plays with his arm. Winn has two big challenges left with Rutgers and UConn both ranking in the top 20 nationally in rushing D, and in the top 10 in yards per carry allowed.