In truth the backup quarterback spot at UC was up for grabs about 10 seconds after the end of the Syracuse game. Chazz Anderson is a great guy, a well respected locker room leader and all that. But he was existentially done as a player for UC after the Cuse game. This spring basically confirmed that long held assumption for me. It was all but official when Butch Jones moved Anderson to receiver for the last week of the season. At that point Anderson's options were to serve out his time as Dustin Grutza 2.0 or transfer. He chose the latter. So the question then becomes, who is going to be the back-up quarterback?
The short answer is that nobody really knows who it is actually going to be holding that extra special clipboard charting plays on the 3rd of September. We do know who the candidates are though, and that's not nothing. Let's hit them in alphabetical order.
Kay is far and away the biggest of the bunch standing at 6'3" and weighing 233 pounds. In terms of physical ability to run the Butch Jones offense he is pretty much the total package. He has a very strong arm and good enough accuracy to make some of the tougher throws in the playbook. While he is not a burner by any stretch of the imagination he has enough speed to at least hold that backside defensive end on the zone read. Here are some throwback high school highlights.
The biggest drawback with Kay is his inability to stay healthy. I don't recall him making it through a fall camp or spring practice without picking up a major injury. He couldn't even fully participate in spring practice this spring because he was recovering from a knee injury that he picked up in the pre season last year. That isn't particularly encouraging to me. I don't doubt that he has the physical tools to perform in a pinch. But I do doubt his ability to stay healthy. You have to keep in mind how often he has been able to practice in his career at UC. Missing as many spring and fall practices as he has surely has had a negative affect on his development.
Munchie has been in the program for a year and will enter the season as a true Sophomore. He played in 7 games last year, all of them at receiver, and he made a start against Pittsburgh. On the year he came up with one catch for 18 yards. It is a matter of debate whether or not his development was helped or hindered by his brief sojourn at receiver last fall. On the one hand not being able to participate in position specific activities with the QB's is obviously far from ideal. But the other side of that coin is that spending some time at receiver gave him a better understanding of the offense as a whole. I will admit to being surprised seeing that he was moving back to QB for this season even though he has the tools needed to thrive in this offense.
Legaux doesn't have a cannon or anything, but he has arm strength that is well above average. But the thing that I like best about him is that he has an innate ability to sense and break pressure in the pocket. He is far from a statue back there which is a great thing in this offense. His stint as a receiver last year is sure to brand him as an athlete not as a QB. But the jury is out on whether or not he has the wherewithal to carve up defense from the pocket. He clearly had a very strong spring, a slightly partisan Louisiana based publication has even gone as far as to call him Zach Collaro's mid season replacement.
Munchie ended spring practice as the number two QB for the fall for Cincinnati, but I predict he has a chance to be the guy by mid season or sooner.
I am not sure about all that. Munchie is in contention for the back up job, but I wouldn't call it his just yet. Plus I hope the backup, whoever it is, isn't starting at the mid point. That means the offensive line will be as bad as we all feared it could be.
The last of the bunch is also the guy who has had to make the biggest transition. Luallen is something of a gym rat. He spent a ton of time in the film room this fall studying the offense. Jones has commented in the past about the amount of work that is going to have to go into learning the passing game for him.
The big thing for him is just the throw game and the overall mechanics of throwing the football. He did a great job on scout team last year, but it's a lot different when you're just holding a card up and telling him, 'Throw the ball to him.' The decision-making process will be big for him, but he's got all the intangibles you would want from a quarterback.
After spring Luallen still has a long way to go with the passing game. It's not exactly his fault though. He hasn't played anything besides an option offense. Ever. At Center Grove High School they ran a veer variant, (with a lot of double belly), and then at Georgia Tech it was the Paul Johnson Flexbone. Needless to say the difference in approach from what Luallen had done before and what he is asked to do now is vast. He is making progress, the question is has he done enough to be put so close to the firing line?
Projecting The Outcome
Each of these three guys bring something to the table that would enable Jones to at least give them the old college try. Kay has the physical tools and has been around the program forever, Munchie probably has the most raw talent for the position out of the three and Luallen would be a devastating read option guy. But it is hard to know what Jones will do. This staff has a reputation for making some devastating personnel mistakes in the past. I think that Kay is out because he can't be counted on to stay healthy. The majority of the back up reps this off season are going to Legaux and Luallen. Of those two I think Lexgaux comes out with the back up job, I just think that his overall skill set is the best of the back ups. He has great intangibles and a marvelous spring. That combination will put him over the top. Plus it doesn't hurt that he has magical dreadlocks.