March 31, 2012

Deep yet unsettled QB depth chart

On this the last day of March University of Cincinnati's football team begins to mold into a cohesive unit. Several new starters are still adapting to their roles while young upstarts continue to challenge for elevations.

Nowhere is this dynamic more apparent than the quarterback depth chart.

Entering spring Patrick Coyne intended to fight for starting QB. Thus far he has to be considered third with an asterisk. The occasional series operated by Jordan Luallen shoves Coyne back into an unattractive fourth slot. Can he make up the coveted ground?

Today he threw erratically and failed to move the offense downfield. It was one of his poorest showings of the spring.

Coyne has a strong arm and generally hits all short and mid-range targets. Despite a perceptible short-arm motion Coyne was reliable through March. Today several men were underthrown and he just didn't get many chances to prove himself. Maybe another day.

Freshmen struggle

Offensive lineman signee Caleb Stacey was eager to watch Bennie Coney. He had read plenty about Coney and was excited for his first snaps of the day. Unfortunately, Stacey and the rest of the visitors surrounding the football field needed to wait over two hours for Coney's afternoon debut.

And it was less than impressive. When given his first opportunity to rush the ball Coney rolled out and tripped. Tripped by himself over himself really. It was almost too pitiful to be funny. The Cats ran the ball and then Coney was ready for his first full scrimmage pass of the day.

He severely underestimated or simply poorly threw the ball. It landed five yards short on a simple out route. Coney will have many, many more chances in the years to come and most likely this will be his worst display.

The other early enroller of note is former Marshall-verbal Trenton Norvell. The Bearcats really helped the position by signing both Coney and Norvell. Together the pair represents a noticeable upgrade from the Stephen Weatherford/Patrick Coyne freshman duo.

Norvell and Coney were shuffled in and out of the final offensive series Saturday. Norvell's passes were more stout and accurate than Coney's. Still Norvell threw an incomplete pass out wide. His most successful plays were simple hand offs. When he was nudged back into the watching coaches and instructing teammates Norvell accepted an eight yard loss.

At the top

Perpetually-injured Brendon Kay continues to make a very real play for backup quarterback, but the gap between Munchie and Kay grows in the eyes of the coaching staff.

Saturday Kay made the most successful passes and truly inspired enthusiasm in his troops. From an unenviable position, his own one-yard line, Kay scrambled and threw a gorgeous lofted ball off his left foot. Another formerly injured player, Chris Moore tucked the pass away to help UC escape their redzone.

In a telling final minute scenario Kay guided his team to a game-winning field goal. Starting sixty yards out Kay looked over the top to Moore. The big play set up an eventual field attempt that UC neatly placed between the uprights.

Down two fictional points with 1:30 remaining and no timeouts provided Kay with a challenge that he assertively passed.

Kay just might get on the field this fall though.

Alas the starter remains Munchie Legaux. He still has some significant steps to take to match Zach Collaros. The one area of improvement agreed upon by all offensive linemen is leadership.

Munchie was a leader by default when Collaros fell to the Paul Brown Stadium turf. He was asked to call the plays in the huddle and direct the offense, but his personality and confidence lagged far behind his skills.

Now his confidence is plain. Everyone respects what Munchie can do and most see him as the inevitable starter.

More important than outsider's respect Legaux has the offensive line's ear. When moments get tight, get tense you must have a deeply-embedded esteem between the O-line and the quarterback.

In the 1:30 drill Munchie failed the first time through. Legaux tried Danny Milligan[db] over the middle but [db]Reuben Johnson cracked Milligan during the catch. Four yard gain. No yards after catch. Actually no inches after catch.

Next UC tried a snazzy Munchie to Luallen pass play. Any hopes of completing the pass evaporated the second Cam Cheatham bashed Jordan. Three and out. Failure.

Legaux got a second opportunity to drive his boys with zero timeouts. He struck gold with a fantastic deep ball to Milligan, which set up a game-winning field goal. Jameel Poteat followed Milligan's catch with two stuffed runs.

Catch of the day Danny Milligan. Well done Danny-boy.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!