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Ross Trail Should be the Leader in UC’s QB Battle

This opinion is subject to change.

Miami Ohio v Cincinnati Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

You may have read earlier today, possibly during your lunch break, that the battle for the starting quarterback job is in its early stages for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Under new head coach Luke Fickell, and without the looming shadow of Gunner Kiel, this should be a more straight forward competition than a year ago. The two heavyweights in the fight are recognized names. In one corner you have Hayden Moore, who won the starting job out of the summer last year, and Ross Trail, who made a couple starts in a lost season for UC football.

The two will be competing for the starting gig for the second-straight year. Moore may have won the first skirmish, but he didn’t really take a stranglehold on the position. After starting the first three games, weak performance on the field and a bit of an injury scare opened the door for Trail to get a chance. Unfortunately, Trail was unable to take control, flailing through two starts before Moore and Kiel took over for the rest of the campaign.

When the year had mercifully come to an end, Moore had thrown for 1,744 yards and 11 touchdowns on 57.3 percent passing. Trail completed a higher percentage of passes (65.7) in a smaller sample size, but he was intercepted six times and threw just one touchdown pass. So what’s with the headline, right?

There are a few reasons Trail should be given a leg up on Moore. I feel that we have largely seen who Moore is. He has a decent arm and ran Tommy Tuberville’s offensive gameplan OK. But now that a new coaching staff is in town, Moore’s familiarity with the previous regime’s playbook is no longer an advantage. That means these two players are both starting from scratch.

Trail, a former three-star recruit, has yet to show consistency in completing passes downfield, something Moore has done, though not as much as needed. However, I’m not convinced that Trail can’t develop that because Trail has the better arm of the two and Fickell won’t be imposing an air raid style attack. That’s where the differentiation between Trail and Moore becomes even more important. Fickell has said he wants to go fast and run a power-spread style offense. That means you need a quarterback that can move. Until Torrance Gibson is eligible, Trail is the best signal caller on the roster when it comes to making plays on the ground. Although it only showed in short bursts, Trail can move out of the pocket more effectively than Moore, which could be a crucial element of UC’s new offense.

In addition, Trail has not been given a full swim in the deep end. Moore got his shot to be the starting quarterback and he really struggled. Sure, Trail struggled as well, but remember he played in three games and one of those was against USF. Since UC isn’t going to be competing for championships next year, no matter how good Fickell is as a coach, it just makes more sense to try to use the most suitable (and younger) player at the most important position in your scheme.

This is in no way my way of saying Trail should be the starting quarterback and there’s no reason to reexamine throughout the spring and summer, but I would lean toward Trail at this point since there’s more potential upside.

Poll

Who should be the frontrunner for starting QB right now?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Ross Trail
    (45 votes)
  • 43%
    Hayden Moore
    (34 votes)
79 votes total Vote Now