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Gunner Kiel Will Start Against ECU

Hayden Moore tried and so did Ross Trail. Now its Kiel’s turn.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Tuberville will empty the chamber at quarterback on Saturday against East Carolina, as he announced that third-string quarterback Gunner Kiel will start.

Kiel will take over where Hayden Moore and Ross Trail fell short. Moore started four games and was named the starter to begin the season. He threw for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns on 56.6 percent passing across 159 attempts. He also was intercepted four times. In all, Moore wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great, and with the team losing its first three league tests, that wasn’t good enough.

Mistakes really sank Trail, a much hyped recruit who was intercepted six times across three games, two of which were starts.

Kiel, of course, isn’t your run-of-the-mill third string quarterback. During the previous two seasons he was the unquestioned starter and he found a heaping of success running Cincinnati’s pass-heavy attack. He threw for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns, compared to 13 interceptions while completing nearly 60 percent of his pass attempts in 2014. In 2015, he dealt with some injury issues, but still amassed 2,777 yards and 19 touchdowns (as well as 11 picks). However, his status with UC has been in question since he missed the Hawaii Bowl last winter and then left the team. He came back to but has been buried on the depth chart ever since despite the insistence from Tuberville that he was still very much a part of UC’s plans.

In the first half of 2016, that statement was false. Kiel played in one game, coming in for mop up duty against USF where he completed only 3-of-11 pass attempts for 47 yards.

As UC embarks on its season-salvaging mission, Tuberville will finally give the keys of the offense back to Kiel. The hope has to be that he will be able to push the accelerator down a bit for a UC team that has looked uninspired offensively and is suffering in the cellar of the American Athletic Conference because of it.