Brendon Kay connected on four passes that traveled at least 35 yards in the air Saturday night and reminded everyone how explosive the offense can be on his watch.
CINCINNATI -- On this night, when if not for the a pitchfork splitting the state of Louisiana on the Demons logo, nobody would know where Northwestern State is located, the final score would matter little.
What would move the needle on Tommy Tuberville's barometer of the UC football program would be players proving capable of making plays that win conference games, conference championships.
In the case of Saturday night's 66-9 victory, the proving should be classified more as a reminder.
Brendon Kay - and more precisely the accurate deep ball stemming from his right arm - brings a weapon all teams in the American must prepare for.
Coverage didn't always blanket downfield receivers. And for that matter, pressure rarely fell around the senior's feet. Yet, from the moment Kay planted on his drop and floated his soft spiral no execution appeared more impressive or aesthetic.
"It's not really anything I think about before the play," Kay said. "It's just go out there and do it."
Utilizing his natural instincts, Kay completed four passes that hung longer than 35 yards in the air and all landed perfectly in the hands of the intended target. And in stride, for good measure.
The bombs arrive in different shapes and sizes. Finding the time and place for all makes the difference.
"It's just a feel for the game," Kay said. "Been doing it my whole life. Certain receivers I put more air under it and let them run to it. If it's pretty open you want to put it on him. Just let him make the catch and run with it."
The first Saturday, an intent strike to tight end Blake Annen breaking open between the seams for an eventual 49-yard gain arrived on him like a pregame parachuter careening around the scoreboard.
The second came hung in front of transfer Mekale McKay long enough for him to hold off the defender draped behind him on a broken play for a contested catch.
The last two were the types of throws that make writers like myself consult the thesaurus for adjectives. No other choice, really, when a pass holds high in the air, softly spiraling against the backdrop of a black-clad upper deck at Nippert then landing in the ideal spot for Max Morrison to accept without slowing.
Pick which one you prefer: Exquisite, stunning, angelic, pulchritudinous. (For the record have no idea what pulchritudinous means, but sure rolls off the tongue).
The first bomb to Morrison covered 46 yards to set up an Anthony McClung spinning touchdown.
"I felt the DB right there on my hip and Brendon put the ball exactly where it needed to be," Morrison said. "He was right there with me when I caught it. If it weren't for the great ball from Brendon it might not have turned out the way it did."
The second came as Morrison broke open down the sideline for 41 yards and an easy touchdown to close out a spectacular night.
"Nothing was there but the ball and me," Morrison continued.
Kay finished 12 of 14 for 277 yards while tying a career high with four touchdowns. His final passer rating of 346.2 ranked better than any quarterback in a UC game since the mid-2000s renaissance. It wasn't close.
How Kay can change the game for the Bearcats entering conference play in three weeks will be by stretching the defense with his accuracy deep. Keeping the safeties out of the box allows more one-on-one matchups up front to keep Ralph David Abernathy IV and company in space.
That, according to Tuberville, serves as the key in the chain reaction to moving the ball consistently in this type of attack. From there forward, his next level in throwing the deep ball will be knowing when not to throw. There Tuberville came away particularly impressed in his play.
"He didn't throw the ball up for grabs," Tuberville said. "There was a couple of times he could have chucked it down the field but he tucked it and ran it. He's learning. He's got a lot more to learn about playing quarterback in this type of offense, a pro-style offense, where your running game has to be No. 1 and passing game work off of that."
As for if Kay believes the deep ball is his primary weapon, he wouldn't go so far.
"I'm going to do whatever is called," Kay said. "If it's called on me to throw the ball deep I'm going to do that. If I have to stay across the middle, short game, quick game, whatever it is I am going to go out there and do my job."
In the end, the bomb is one of many ways to do his job. But having it in the arsenal can change the look of the conference chase. And for UC, that's a pulchritudinous thing.
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