Cincinnati Bearcats Quarterback Competition; The Opportunity Cost Of A Back Up

US PRESSWIRE

The Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback competition, long thought decided in favor of Brendon Kay, is back on line, at least according to Tommy Tuberville. Not that head coaches are important or whatever. Here is the lay of the land based on all the available information.

"It’s gonna be close. It’s gonna be a lot closer than what people think. We’ll see what happens with Brendon, see when he can come back. If he can’t come back soon, then we’ll make Munchie our starting quarterback. We’ve got to start game planning here in a few days."

Tommy Tuberville

Here is what we know as of today, Sunday. Brendon Kay has had a sore shoulder for the past few days. No one has yet to pinpoint a specific injury to Kay, just saying that it is sore. Because of Kay being out of action for, roughly, the past week Munchie has been able to mount a challenge for the starting job. Those are the facts, what passes henceforth delves into the murky world of assumptions.

Scenario 1

Brendon Kay is perfectly healthy, if lacking some of his characteristic sharpness of late. He will start against Purdue and the offense won't be any worse for the wear. He has sat for the past week because he is entrenched at the top, and the more time you can buy your number one guy in camp the better. That makes sense, particularly when you consider Brendon's rather extensive injury history. Doubly so where you have a decision to make with the back up position.

Scenario 2

Brendon Kay is not healthy, and a real doubt to make it through the year. Keep in mind that for his first three seasons he couldn't' stay healthy for any 12 month stretch of time. Every fall camp or spring practice inevitably resulted in his being injured and losing time. From knee injuries to tendonitis he had it all. For the last 18 months or so he has been healthy, but that history is always a concern. Is this last 18 months the real Brendon in terms of durability, or is it the outlier and the cavalcade of injuries from his first years in Clifton the norm? No one knows, but that is certainly something that has to rattle around Tommy Tuberville's head.

Scenario 3

Munchie Legaux is making a real run at the starting position, and would be in the same position if Kay were healthy. Which wouldn't be all that surprising given his immense raw talent. To me there has never been a question about his ability to do the job physically, Munchie's biggest problem for me has always been in his decision making. No so much in the decisions he makes, but the time it takes execute the decision. I am not talking about his delivery even, but about the split second he seems to take to double check every decision before he starts to throw. That lack of decisiveness is a problem at this level, and I would go so far to argue that it has been his biggest problem as a quarterback. But maybe he has fixed that problem, and that is why he is climbing the charts?

My Best Guess...

Is that Brendon Kay will be the starter for the Purdue game, and that Bennie Coney winds up being the back up. Through no fault of his own Munchie might just end up with the third string, not because he is incapable of contributing to this team, but because there is an opportunity cost associated with making a senior quarterback your back up. And that cost is giving a known commodity crucial developmental reps at the sake of giving them to Coney, a younger guy who does need to develop.

Taking the most cynical possible of all positions there are a finite number of repetitions available to your backup QB in any given week. Depending on the pace of your practices, and the limitations on practice time in a given week (20 hours a week*), there are maybe a thousand reps available for the back up in a season. Those 1,000 reps will mean far more to Coney's development than they would to Munchie's improvement.

*Including not just field time but film study, weight training, team meetings etc

Put yourself in Tubs and Eddie Grans shoes. You have a senior quarterback who is more or less a known commodity. He is the boomiest and bustiest** of all possible quarterbacks. Those 100 reps a week will not change his mentality, or his appraoch to the game. At this point Munchie is who he is.

** I can't believe your mind even went there dude

On the other hand you have Bennie Coney, the most physically gifted QB on this roster not named Gunner Kiel.*** His ceiling is immense and he has shown major flashes in the spring and in camp of just how good a quarterback he can be. At the conclusion of spring football Coney had blown the doors off Munchie, and thats a direct quote from a friend of mine. The only reason Coney isn't the number 2 already is that Munchie put the doors back on his car, lit it on fire, and drove it like a bear. Coney still needs work, and he still needs experience, and the best way to get that is to make him the back up.

*** The gap between Coney and Kiel in terms of talent is really not that much of a gap at all

If it were me I would make Coney the back up, because those 20 reps a day will bear more fruit in the long term than giving those reps to Munchie. That is the opportunity cost. If you give those reps to Munchie you can't give them to Bennie. The zero sum game aspect of it makes decisions like this difficult. Making Munchie the number 2 might give you a good return this year. But in the event that Brendon Stays healthy all year you have then neglected the development of Coney; a guy that could be your starter next year. Giving them to Coney is playing the long game, it might not pay big dividends this year, but it probably will next year and beyond. Given that this is a first year staff, and that no one on it is in danger of losing a job through lack of performance this staff can afford to play the longer view.

If Kay gets injured, and Gran thinks that Bennie is not ready Munchie will still be ready to go. But unless Kay's issues are more serious than anticipated I just don't see how you can make Munchie the back up assuming that Kay will get hurt. They need to get Bennie those reps now or risk having him falling behind.

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