March 27, 2012
Most spring football practices end with a few consecutive first down plays. Tuesday Head Coach Butch Jones got bold.
'We have 4:18 left in the game,' barked Coach Jones. 'We are going to play this down to the end.'
Starting quarterback Munchie Legaux was given the task of marching his troops down the field, hopefully scoring. Ever the improviser Munchie galloped instead of marched.
Facing the best defense Cincinnati could field Munchie faked a handoff, which tugged the whole defense away. Legaux kept the ball and dashed 33 yards. The drill was supposed to take three or four game minutes. Instead Munchie crossed midfield on the opening play.
Cincinnati's second play was modest, a George Winn two-yard run. The impressive aspect was the swiftness with which Legaux executed the pre-snap offense.
Remember how confused Legaux looked last fall when running the offense? The weakest part of his play occured before the snap. While Zach Collaros could run a string of plays under 1:00, Munchie typically took the full minute for two plays.
It was clear the sophomore's mind was swimming with details. Now he can settle in. Winn's first carry of the drive began at 3:55. To further drive home the point Munchie mimicked a hand off, scooted 33 yards, settled the offensive line, accepted a play from the sideline, called it out, and hiked the ball in 23 seconds.
All this deserved praise hit a snag when the left tackle committed a false start on 2nd down. Fortunately Winn picked up the first down with a deft 12-yard run up the middle.
Nearing the final whistle
It looked good. First and 10 on the opponent's 37-yard line.
One mistake (penalty) was easily swept over by Munchie and Winn running free. Still stocked with plenty of downs and 2:21 UC was motoring along, fully capable of tacking points on the scoreboard.
Winn run left for three yards, but was cut off my Maalik Bomar. Munchie and Winn squandered another opportunity on the subsequent play. The pair took too long to get out of the gates.
Jordan Stepp slipped into their pocket and tagged Winn to discontinue the play. Sigh. A long third down attempt coming up.
After five plays of run, run, run, run, and run it became clear a pass call was required. Munchie dropped back and fed Danny Milligan. Milligan's slippery moves were not enough to evade and UC came up just short of the first down marker.
Offensive coaches T.J. Weist and Mike Bajakian implored their quarterback to go for the fourth down conversion. An overrule from Coach Jones brought on the field goal unit.
As the game clock ticked under 50 seconds Tony Miliano lofted a kick from 46 yards out. It sailed just wide right.
Despite starting with so much promise the drive failed. Zero points. Defenders rejoiced.
Though the result was zero points this offensive drive does suggest late-game success. Munchie and the offensive sideline did well to hurry without rushing. Plays went off in a timely manner.
Munchie further demonstrated his slithery, elusive running style. He even looks faster in the open field, but perhaps his tacklers are relatively slower.
Of concern is the dearth of passing plays. What does this mean? Is Munchie incapable of making crisp passes? Did UC want to utilize the alternating runners? Are receivers less worthy of late-game opportunities?
Save a few series in 2011 Munchie was not an accurate passer. It will be interesting to see if the offense completely changes or merely adapts gently to Legaux's skill set.
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