With the season opener just a couple days away, the Cincinnati Bearcats seem to be entirely set to get the first season of the Luke Fickell era going. The final domino that had to fall before the season could begin was making a choice about the starting quarterback. While Michigan and Florida are playing a weird game of keepaway, the Bearcats have set their depth chart for the most part, and that includes the quarterback position.
If you don’t already know, Hayden Moore was named the starter over Ross Trail. Here are some reasons why that’s a good thing and some reasons why its not.
Pro: Moore is the more efficient passer
While Moore certainly didn’t destroy opposing secondaries like a dragon raised from the dead would take down an ancient wall of ice, he was better at keeping the ball safe and turning drives into touchdowns than Trail in 2016. He finished with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions while averaging 6.5 adjusted passing yards per attempt. That last metric, which takes touchdowns and interceptions into account, isn’t otherworldly, but it was certainly better than the work Trail put in by tallying six picks and just one passing score.
Con: Moore has less upside
Trail may have thrown the ball to the opposing team too often, but he is a former four-star recruit who was getting his first taste of college football in 2016. Trail has the better arm and was a bit more willing to take chances down field than Moore, as he averaged 7.1 yards per attempt compared to Moore’s 6.8. That may be a minor difference but it isn’t a non-existent one. Moore has proven he can be steady at best, but Trail is the player who could turn into a star, at least based on what evidence we have.
Pro: Moore has more experience
As previously mentioned, Trail doesn’t have a ton of playing experience on his resume. He saw action in four games last year and threw a total of 70 passes. Moore had more than double that total in seven games and also played in eight games the season before. And as long as we are discussing that, it’s not Moore’s fault that he was playing in a less than creative offensive scheme the last two years. Perhaps under Mike Denbrock, he’ll flourish, especially if he’s pushed to move the ball more quickly.
Con: Trail is more mobile
The problem there is Trail might be a better fit for what Denbrock wants to do. Moore can move when push comes to shove but he is less agile than Trail, although it’s worth pointing out that he has flashed the wheels at times, like when he rushed for 58 yards and two scores against Purdue.
Pro: Moore is the safe choice
The expectations for Fickell have grown as 2017 has progressed. Some have grown their belief to unfair proportions, but even for the level-headed, immediate improvement is pretty much expected. Trail could be the lottery ticket to the top with his four-star pedigree, but Moore has the experience and the proven track record of at least being a solid game manager. That might be all Fickell wants out of his first starting quarterback as he begins the unenviable task of rebuilding this program. It’s not going to happen with one player, even if he happens to be the quarterback.