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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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- UConn: 52
- Memphis: 15
- SMU: 101
- Rutgers: 51
- Houston: 74
- Louisville: 3
The trying week for the Bearcats football team and university family teaches one life's hardest, unforgettable lessons.