Here We Go Again

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Let's see if any of this sounds familiar.


It's late in the season.  The UC football team loses its starting quarterback to injury and has to turn to an inexperienced backup before a key game with major bowl implications.  Sure enough, the second-stringer not only comes through in that game, but in the weeks to come.


You know who I'm talking about right?


No, not Zach Collaros...or Tony Pike...or Dustin Grutza...or Chazz Anderson.


Does the name Nick Davila ring a bell?



If any fan base in college football should realize that losing your starting quarterback doesn't necessarily spell doom, it is Cincinnati Bearcat fans.


This is the sixth consecutive year that Cincinnati's starter will miss at least one start due to injury.


Here's how the team has done:


2006:  Dustin Grutza is unable to start the next-to-last game of the regular season and Davila throws for 277 yards as the Bearcats stun previously unbeaten and 7th-ranked Rutgers 30-11.  The following week, Davila comes off the bench to lead Cincinnati to two scoring drives in the last 4:00 as the Bearcats beat UConn 26-23.  New head coach Brian Kelly then picks Davila to start the International Bowl and he leads the 'Cats to a 27-24 win.


2007:  Ben Mauk misses two starts due to shoulder woes and Grutza leads the Bearcats to wins over Miami and Marshall.


2008:  Grutza breaks his leg in week two at Oklahoma, and Tony Pike is the starter in wins over Miami and Akron before breaking his arm against the Zips (with Zach Collaros coming off the bench to lead the team to a game-winning field goal).  Chazz Anderson then gets the call and leads the 'Cats to wins over Marshall and Rutgers before Pike returns to start the final eight games of the season.  When Tony was knocked woozy in a pair of late-season games, Grutza answers the bell on a gimpy leg to rally UC to second half comebacks at Louisville and Hawaii.


2009:  Pike is being mentioned as a Heisman candidate before breaking his forearm at USF.  No big deal.  Collaros rushes for a career-high 132 yards to led the 'Cats to a win in that game, before starting in victories over Louisville, Syracuse, UConn, and West Virginia.


2010:  Collaros misses the Syracuse game with a knee injury, and Anderson struggles in a 31-7 loss to Syracuse.


By my count, over the last five years when forced to start a backup quarterback (I am not including Davila in the International Bowl, or Pike in the second half of 2008 because Grutza available in both cases), the UC Bearcats are 11-1.


Now Benton "Munchie" Legaux will try to add his name to the list.


The 20-year-old from New Orleans passed for 144 yards and rushed for 77 after Collaros broke his ankle last Saturday vs. West Virginia.  In the second half, Legaux (pronounced leh-GO) led Cincinnati to a pair of touchdown drives to turn a 10-point deficit into a 21-17 lead in the 4th quarter.  Then after WVU pulled back in front 24-21, Munchie started a drive at his own 30-yard line with 1:09 remaining, and calmly drove the 'Cats to the Mountaineers' 14-yard line before West Virginia blocked a game-tying field goal attempt.   


"He actually provided the spark," said head coach Butch Jones.  "He provided the big plays and got us into a rhythm offensively.  The way we practice, our number two quarterback gets the same amount of reps as our number one quarterback.  So he's had the repetitions and as we know, repetition is the mother of all learning.  So he's had that - now it's a matter of being able to do it at game speed."


He faces a serious challenge this week since Rutgers lead the Big East in scoring defense (18.2), total defense (322 yards), and interceptions (16).


"The big thing for Munchie is to be able to practice this week at game speed and make quick decisions with the football," said Coach Jones.  "As the backup quarterback you're always one snap away, but sometimes, you're sitting there and it's very difficult to prepare during the week because every week you're preparing but your time doesn't come.  Now all of the sudden you're forced into it and I thought he did a great job (against WVU).  That just builds that confidence that our team has in Munchie."


On Saturday, it will be exactly five years and one day since Davila came off the bench to lead the Bearcats past the Scarlet Knights.  Can Legaux do the same?


As investment advisors always point out, past performance does not necessarily predict future results.


But it's nice to know it can be done isn't it? 


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