With the bubble top lifted off the Sheakley Athletic Complex on Friday and sun drenching the turf, a fresh feel came over the latest session of spring practice.
That feel will dramatically change again Saturday when UC takes to Paul Brown Stadium for a full-uniform, full-contact scrimmage. And nobody will taste the difference more than the quarterbacks.
"Big day for the quarterbacks (Saturday)," Tommy Tuberville said. "We are going to do a lot of different things on defense and get in their face and try to make them make mistakes. We'll see how they handle it. I've been impressed with the quarterbacks. Mentally they have handled it pretty well."
In the first scrimmage, Brendon Kay went 7 of 11 for 115 yards and two touchdowns without a pick. Munchie Legaux was 8 of 15 for 150 yards with one TD and an interception. They've both been asked to handle quite a lot during this run of spring practices. On top of soaking in a new offense along with the rest of the team, demands have been placed upon them to know the job of every position on every play.
With the two weeks of practice time away due to spring break and cold weather, Tuberville and his staff installed 20 percent more of the offense and defense.
That means 20 percent more audibles, hot routes and protections slides to call off at the line. All this under duress unseen thus far in the Tuberville practice era. He wants to learn what his QBs are made of and he wants to know learn as soon as possible. No rush exists to officially name a starter in the battle between Kay and Legaux, but the two must both be pushed to begin peeling the layers.
"It's as much of a gameplan as we've had entering the scrimmage," Kay said. "We can see what we are able to do and see what this offense is made of. He's challenging the quarterbacks, but on offense everyone has to be on the same page."
Tuberville didn't discount the possibility a starting quarterback could be named at the end of camp, but didn't seem concerned about the designation, either.
"We just have to wait and see," Tuberville said. "There might be a distinguishable difference at the end of spring between Munchie and Kay. We just have to wait and see. Really not concerned about it they are all taking the same number of reps."
Certainly, there would be advantages and disadvantages to knowing the starting quarterback before fall practice. Tuberville says in the past he's done it both ways, where the starter was known or a battle brewed through camp. Regardless, with so many practices before Aug. 31 against Purdue, any starting position comes with an asterisk: *Subject to change.
For Kay, who didn't find out if he was playing days, hours or even minutes before games last year, being prepared for all scenarios comes with the territory. He doesn't know another way.
"I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity," Kay said. "It's there."
The next step comes Saturday.
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