Brendon Kay is enjoying the best run of his career as the offense changed to fit his style.
CINCINNATI - In late July, Brendon Kay hovered 30,000 feet above the ground flying on his way back from the Manning Passing Camp in Thibodaux, La.
Staring out the window of the plane it's hard not to think about all the skills acquired over the course of the week and how it can apply to a sixth year of eligibility and opportunity Kay waited for his entire life.
Yet, a two-month blur of injuries, ugly losses, a fight for his job and offensive growing pains left that opportunity as a distant memory and uncertain future.
In the aftermath of a tragedy outside Oxford and gutcheck defeat in Tampa the Brendon Kay who Bearcats pinned hopes of the 2013 offense on emerged, one spiral at a time - the latest tossing four touchdowns in Saturday's 41-16 victory against Connecticut.
Kay and the Bearcats offense have hit the stride Kay daydreamed about this offeseason. Finally. Few thought the offensive identity would take this long, but without doubt it's been established. It wears No. 11.
"You hope it doesn't (take this long)," said Kay after throwing for 300 yards and the four scores. "It's tough with all the coaching changes. There's going to be ups and downs regardless with all the stuff. It's just part or the process."
Tommy Tuberville described Kay's game Saturday as "gutty." A great place to start for a quarterback playing through a multitude of ailments and barely practicing. Through the pain, Kay returned to the same efficiency and execution showcased during his impressive run to close out the 2012 season. For those final five games he threw 10 touchdowns to just two picks to go with 1,282 yards over the final five games.
Since the disastrous first half at South Florida Kay's last 10 quarters have been the best run of his career. He's hit 60 of 79 passes for 717 yards. That's an absurd 76 percent completion rate. In the meantime he's thrown nine touchdowns to one interception.
Not a bad run. Oh yeah, that's for an offense who scored 93 points in the process.
Much of that stems from being willing to crumble up the original offensive philosophy and throw it in the trash. The idea of playing power football need to go. It wasn't working, the time came to play into Kay's strengths and spread the passing game. So, slot receivers Anthony McClung and Shaq Washington began running the slot with Chris Moore and emerging transfer Mekale McKay taking the top off.
It changed the game. Mostly because Kay's proven more than capable to do so.
"We had to find something that will open it up," Tuberville said. "By spreading out it got a guy out of the box, made them play a little bit more zone coverage and Brendon is very accurate. Just happened to start clicking for us."
Saturday's click started with the first snap. All week offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and Kay talked about throwing a bomb to open the game. Only one problem, during the entire week of practice Kay couldn't throw one. It hurt to much.
Dropping back off a play action he stood in the pocket and nobody quite knew what to expect. Not a problem, though. Kay delivered a perfect deep ball that hit Mekale McKay in stride for a 56-yard gain. If UC looked to send a message and set a tone, both were accomplished.
"I didn't throw it all week because I couldn't really throw a long ball," Kay said. "I had the adrenaline going at the beginning of the game."
Kay and the Bearcats never looked back. He connected on five passes of at least 40 yards entering the game, he added two more with the bomb to McKay and another 41-yard bullet to tight end Blake Annen rumbling down the right sideline for a touchdown.
A plot twist in the Brendon Kay saga wouldn't be right without fighting through injuries. Tuberville will demand Kay take nearly all of the 10-day break off before heading to Memphis to play the Tigers.
The quarterback describes himself as "banged up." Don't expect a player who missed years at a time with injuries to let a banged up body keep him from this opportunity. Specifically the way he's play now.
When flying above clouds before the season, allowing injuries to curtail his season wasn't a part of the vision.
"I am going to play and the team knows I am going to play," Kay said. "As long as I can walk I am going to be out there."
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By: Scott Springer
When veteran Pat O'Donnell left spring practice, there was some alarm in the air under the bubble at the Sheakley Athletics Center.
The highly-awarded punter had his degree, so under NCAA rules he could transfer and play immediately elsewhere. Initially, there was speculation he might follow Butch Jones to Tennessee, then O'Donnell eventually went to the Miami Hurricanes, closer to his home.
After the initial surprise of O'Donnell leaving, the question was who would step in?
The answer came in John Lloyd who had two years on the squad and won the battle to boot the ball for the Bearcats over some walk-ons and current freshman Sam Geraci of Moeller.
Lloyd has responded with a 44.8 average through six games with a long of 60 yards and three kicks inside the 20. In certain situations, he's shared the punting duties with Brendon Kay who's averaging 37.6 with four inside the 20 and a long of 58.
Geraci is currently injured, so Lloyd is your go-to punter and also the holder for kicker Tony Miliano.
He's a little thicker than your average punter/holder at 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds. At CHCA, he played some quarterback, tight end, and offensive line in addition to punting,holding and kicking off.
He averaged 44 yards per boot as a senior and 42.6 as a junior to lead the state.
He also has the possibility of being a trick play candidate with his high school offensive skills, plus the fact he was a baseball pitcher at CHCA (four years varsity, two-time all-State) and for a while at UC.
By: Scott Springer
University of Cincinnati junior linebacker Nick Temple was hovering around the Tuesday barbecue in the Bob Goin Team Room, so I pulled No. 43 aside for a few questions.
Besides, how often can you interview someone with the same last name as your opponent? It's not like we have a Charlie Rutgers on the squad or even a Matt Houston (I believe that was a TV series in the 80s).
Most Bearcat fans remember Nick most for his defensive touchdown in the Belk Bowl that sealed the game. As I said to him in this video, if Nick Temple scores, UC wins.
Here's the fine product from Indianapolis Warren Central who's such a good interview, he even helps me out when I briefly lose my train of thought at the end. (Hey, I have my brief derailments every now and then.)
Here's to a good showing from "Nick at Nite":
- UConn: 52
- Memphis: 15
- SMU: 101
- Rutgers: 51
- Houston: 74
- Louisville: 3
In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 26-20 loss at USF on Saturday, head coach Tommy Tuberville sounded exasperated in our radio postgame interview with sideline reporter Tom Gelehrter.
"You can't give away 14 points on the road and win -
I don't care who you're playing," said Tuberville on 700 WLW. "We knocked their running back out, we
knocked their quarterback out and we still struggled."
The Bulls entered the game 0-4 and lost quarterback Steven Bench after one pass. They lost the nation's 10th-leading rusher, Marcus Shaw, after 9 carries. But USF didn't need an offensive touchdown against UC, scoring on a 75-yard TD return of a blocked field goal and a 10-yard fumble return.
"You just can't do that," said Tuberville. "I don't care how many games they've won or how they're playing; we gave them all the incentive they needed. When you're playing on the road, we just opened up a can of whoop-tail when we gave them 14 points."
Combine those touchdowns with four field goals and it was enough to beat a Cincinnati offense that sputtered to gain 162 yards in the first three quarters before erupting for 188 yards and a pair of TD passes in the fourth.
We had 86 yards of offense in the first half," said Tuberville. "You're not going to win any games - I mean any games - if you don't play better than that on offense.
"We're going to have to get much better to have the opportunity to win games. We have to get physical and we have to block somebody. That's the number one thing that we have to get better at. We're not doing a great job at the point of attack in our running game."
That was especially telling during a key sequence midway through the third quarter. The Bearcats had a second-and-one at the USF 9-yard line and could not pick up the necessary yard on three running plays.
"You've got to be able to get a yard," said Tuberville. "We had them coming through gaps and we were turning people loose. We made some changes on the offensive line during the game and got a little bit better, but we have to be more physical up front. If you can't get a yard in three downs then something is wrong."
Brendon Kay gave Cincinnati a chance to rally from a 26-6 deficit by going 11-for-14 with 145 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of Brendon," said Tuberville. "I didn't think he'd play in the second half. He took a late hit and really got bruised up in the sternum. We thought about pulling him out, but he wanted to play and he played his heart out in the second half.
"He played his tail off. He ran for his life, he threw on the run, and we're just not giving him much protection. And we have to be able to run the ball a little bit better."
And while the Bearcats struggles on offense began up front, Coach Tuberville says the responsibility for the loss begins with him.
"We have to do a better job of coaching," he said.
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